A mid-ranking member of the Wood Wailers of Gridania. According to some of the older villagers, Cyrilaux appeared in the Twelveswood shortly after the Calamity of the Seventh Umbral Era with nary a gil or tale to his name. At first glance, he gives the impression of a man of little ambition, seemingly content with keeping out of the spotlight while serving as a mid-level member of the Lancer’s Guild. Despite clearly not being a Gridanian native, his uncanny skill with a spear has helped him earn the trust of the local populations as a reliable, if not unadorned, soldier. His somewhat stiff and noble mannerisms divulge his true background as Show text
a secret exile of Ishgard
Cyril has been known to carry a spear since taking his first steps in Gridania about five years ago. When on duty as a member of the Lancer’s Guild, Cyril wears the standard Wood Wailer uniform complete with mask. Otherwise, he typically sticks to unassuming clothing so as not to stand out, seemingly by deliberate choice. While he has been a part of the Gridanian military for at least a few years now, he has never been said to have been seriously injured. Thus, it is unknown what caused the prominent scar on the left side of his face.
Aspects That Stand Out:
When on duty, he will often be found in areas of the Black Shroud, or in Gridania, keeping the peace. He will leave the Twelveswood on official assignments and missions.
Almost as if by deliberate choice, Cyrilaux is content with his role as a steadfast, reliable, yet unambitious member of the Wood Wailers, and very rarely speaks of his own hopes and dreams beyond his standard duties. As a traveling companion, he is happy to let others take the reins, merely providing the support – both in battle prowess and as a motivator – to see others reach their goals. Despite this, he is no stranger to taking command, and would never allow the lack of clear direction or leadership steer a group towards failure, at least in responsibilities to friend and realm. Yet these same qualities would serve to betray his own deep desires and disparage his hidden potential. Something is keeping him shackled – fears, doubts or something more sinister? Without a push in the right direction, he seems intent to live and die without experiencing all that Eorzea has to offer.
Cyrilaux was born in the waning days of the Sixth Astral Era in Ishgard to House Ardouin, a family of minor nobility. A branch family and bannermen of House Durendaire, and symbolized by the lark, the Ardouins can often be read about in the archives of Ishgardian history as court officials and other public servants. The house has never been perceived as holding any real political power in the Holy See. However, they were perhaps best known for producing generations of Azure Dragoons, up to and immediately preceding Ser Alberic. One of Cyrilaux’s ancestors was even said to have served Thordan VI as a member of the Heaven’s Ward, though names and deeds have a way of being distorted through the ages.
Cyrilaux was the middle child of his parents, having a sister, Rinelle, seven years his senior, as well as a younger brother, Valmont, three years his junior. Their father was a church administrator, and his mother a lady-in-waiting to Lady Durendaire. Cyrilaux’s early childhood was an enjoyable upper-class yet modest life in the Pillars of Ishgard.
But it was not to last.
It was the autumn of 1562. Cyrilaux was half a fortnight shy of his eighth nameday, and the Garlean Empire, having conquered Ala Mhigo some five years prior, seemed to be set on continuing their invasion of Eorzea. Careless whispers run amok among the Ishgardian nobility of an attack at Mor Dhona, and that in the battle the terrifying Midgardsormr himself had lost its life after causing a Garlean dreadnaught to crash into the Silvertear Lake. Astrologians’ reports took note of the immensely increased concentrations of aether among the heavens, and what this could mean for the war with the Dravanians.
Yet not one of the astrologians could have divined an incident from within the city walls. One cold autumn night, a young Cyrilaux had been woken up in his home to the screams of his sister being devoured by two Dravanian aevis, with both of their parents strangely missing without a trace. He and Valmont only barely survived before an order of Temple Knights burst in his home and killed the two dragons. Worse still, the investigation led by Holy See inquisitors had concluded that Cyrilaux’s parents themselves were the dragons, impersonating Ishgardian citizens in order to stage a surprise attack against the Archbishop and highborn persons of influence. How else could the church explain the presence of dragons in the inner sanctums of the city, well behind the magical paling which had protected Ishgard from the Dravanian Horde for centuries? Any other theory would have been a massive embarrassment for both the Holy See and the Archbishop’s divine rule.
As accounts of the impersonation talents of Dravanians was well documented, such an accusation was as good as a death sentence, and in just one night, the reputation of House Ardouin was completely destroyed. Lord Durendaire, the liege lord of House Ardouin, refused to lift even a finger in assistance after the attempted plot on his wife. Convinced that the entire family were nothing more than imposters, the Holy See put dozens of Cyrilaux’s relatives to the sword in a series of mock tribunals and public executions. Others still were lynched in the streets. Even today, he cannot recall many of their names…
By all accounts, Cyrilaux and his brother should have been doomed to the rest of their days as street urchins in some forgotten corner of the Brume, or executed in one way or another like the rest of his kinsmen. Yet it was by the divine grace and enormous political influence of Lord Edmont de Fortemps that the two managed to survive. The nobleman and head of House Fortemps somehow miraculously convinced the other high lords and Archbishop himself not only to spare the boys from certain death, but put them under his official protection. Lord Fortemps argued that two children so young could not possibly have been involved in the Dravanian plot, and that showing mercy on them would prove a popular gesture among the plebian masses. As the bodies of House Ardouin burned or hanged in the streets of Foundation, Archbishop Thordan VII surprisingly acquiesced to the request – though rumors that this was done to cast doubt over the reputation of the otherwise pristine House Fortemps certainly circulated.
And so both Cyrilaux and Valmont were adopted as wards of House Fortemps, with the caveat that any further Dravanian attacks within the city would fall directly to Lord Edmont himself to claim responsibility. Cyrilaux was assigned as the personal retainer of Artoirel, Edmont’s middle son and heir. The two boys were very close in age and became fast friends. Even though Cyrilaux had become a mere servant, over the years the bonds between him and the young Fortemps children grew to become as a second family to him – the older brothers he never had, and siblings to fill the gap left by Rinelle’s untimely death. He especially looked up to Haurchefont Greystone, Edmont’s bastard oldest son, as the two were in multiple ways outcasts from proper Ishgardian society that they lived in and served. Cyrilaux especially wanted to become a knight in his footsteps, and convinced Haurchefant to teach him all he knew in the ways of sword and spear.
Over the next decade, the Fortemps’ influence molded Cyrilaux into a well-rounded and hardworking young man, even if his own ties to and trust of the aristocracy had been forever severed by the attack on his family in his childhood. Unfortunately, Ishgardian clergymen had not forgotten Cyrilaux’s early history – Holy See inquisitors would never let a suspected Dravanian traitor be accepted into knighthood. Still, Cyrilaux had developed the heart of a public servant, and arranged to leave the service of House Fortemps and enlist as a supply runner for the Temple Knights. At this time, the military had been ramping up for an imminent attack from the dragons – the lesser moon of Dalamud had grown so large in the sky during the past months that it was causing widespread aetherial disturbances all over Eorzea. Correspondence with the other three city-states had made it clear that this phenomenon was the result of inconceivable machinations of the Garlean Empire. Though the newly formed Eorzean alliance was preparing for a massive counterattack against the Garleans on the plains of Carteneau, the official policy of Ishgard was to not spare a single soldier away from the efforts of the Dragonsong War.
On a night in 1572, Cyrilaux was part of a small squadron of Temple Knights delivering a large shipment of munitions to the Dusk Vigil in western Coerthas. Dalamud was now so close to Eorzea that its eerie crimson light could be seen – and felt – from anywhere in the realm. It was late into the evening, but the bright light emanating from the moon lit up the sky like a small, second sun. As the squadron approached the gates of Dusk Vigil, they found themselves suddenly face to face with a group of adult men, all wielding arms, and with faces hidden by red cloaks – definitely not an Ishgardian envoy. Was this some sort of welcoming party, or an ambush?
From Cyrilaux’s vantage point, the group was roughly the same size as his squadron. If a skirmish were to break out, the superior armor and weaponry of the Temple Knights would give them the advantage. He was carrying only a spear of simple, but sturdy steel and confidence in his lancework. His squadron leader walked to the front of the formation and spoke.
“Hail, travelers. We are a company of Temple Knights in route to the Dusk Vigil. Know that any action causing harm or dereliction from our duties would be considered a crime against Ishgard and the Holy See, with the promise of her full retaliation in kind. Now speak your piece, and let us be on our way.”
A large Roegadyn stepped forth. Cyrilaux could not see his eyes, but the brute was flaunting an unmistakable smug grin. “Oh, you are clearly mistaken, brave soldiers. We are but little lambs, flocked together on this brightest of nights to celebrate the return of our Shepherd. We’re in the middle of preparing quite the welcoming ritual, and only ask if you have any materiel to spare. Surely you have something you would be willing to sacrifice, yes?”
“Sacrifice?” The captain puzzled. “Explain yourse-“ he sputtered out the last syllable as an arrow abruptly jutted through his neck, never giving him a chance to finish his sentence or his thought as he fell to the ground. An archer from within the cloaked men still had his dominant hand raised from where the missile was but a moment prior.
The squadron was taken by surprise. Cyrilaux reached to his back to grab his weapon, ready to jump straight into the fray, but suddenly felt a blunt pain in the back of his head. He too fell to the ground, unconscious. The temple knight standing directly behind him sheathed his weapon, having delivered a quick blow with the sword’s hilt.
Cyrilaux awoke slowly. His vision was beyond blurry and his head was pounding. As he regained consciousness, he started to take in his surroundings. He found his hands crudely bound with hempen rope to a statue of Halone, stripped of all armor from the upper body. Where was this? Some sort of…chapel?
“Ser Yuhelmeric, the broodling has awoken.”
“And what of his brother? Still sedated?” The voices were loud, but muffled. It seemed his hearing had been affected as well.
“Yes, we’ve got him just alert enough to keep the blood moving once all preparations are complete.” The chapel was of distinctly Ishgardian architecture, but lacking the ornamentation found within most religious buildings in The Pillars. This wasn’t a traditional place of worship, but a modest structure for short prayers and simple ceremonies. He must have been in the upper sanctuary of the Dusk Vigil.
Cyrilaux’s vision was beginning to return to normal. It was now that he noticed the bizarre, terrible sight immediately in front of him. Torches and ancient runes adorned a summoning circle in the middle of the floor, surrounded by at least two dozen cultists chanting softly in prayer. Some of them were the red-hooded men from earlier. Others were plainly wearing knight’s attire – these were the same men in his squadron he had been travelling with mere bells ago. In the middle of the circle lay the body of a young adolescent, not moving but still breathing slowly. The light of Dalamud was pouring in from the ceiling, saturating the room in crimson.
Ser Yuhelmeric approached Cyrilaux. “Yes, it seems everything is in order. Priests, begin the rites. We are at last ready to be reunited with our Shepherd.”
The cultists began prostrating towards the center of the circle as two other men stood up. They were wearing the red robes, but had removed the hoods. Squinting, Cyrilaux could make out their faces, recoiling in horror. Anyone who had spent any amount of time in the Pillars could recognize these Elezen as high-ranking inquisitors of the Holy See. The same men who had led the witch hunt to kill his kinsmen. The same men who denied him the right to knighthood. The same men who were now picking up the body of the young man on the ground. No…it couldn’t possibly be…
Valmont, Cyrilaux’s younger brother, was extremely lethargic as they lifted him up, but opened his eyes just enough to notice Cyrilaux and began reaching out to him.
Cyrilaux screamed. “NO! WHAT ARE YOU DOING? UNHAND HIM!”
Yuhelmeric interjected. “Quiet yourself, broodling. Our Shepherd, Dalamud, demands a sacrifice for allowing us to bask in His glory. Once he has returned, you will be his first welcoming tribute to do with as He pleases!” The gleam in the man’s eyes suggested one whose hinge on reality was becoming looser by the minute.
Cyrilaux struggled in vain against his restraints. “YOU LOT ARE MAD! DO OUR LIVES MEAN NOTHING TO YOU? WHY ME? WHY MY BROTHER?”
One of the inquisitors turned around to address him. “On the contrary…Cyrilaux.” The way he said that name, as if Cyrilaux’s entire life had been orchestrated at his whim, was beyond unnerving. “You and your brother have always been the perfect vessels for this very night. We have known this since you were children – since your parents transmuted into their true forms and devoured your sister. That it occurred years earlier than we had anticipated was beyond surprising, but it proved to us beyond a shadow of a doubt that House Ardouin carried a substantial essence of Dalamud in the bloodline. After all, we require the blood of a dragon to awaken a dragon.”
Yuhelmeric cackled. “Did you really think you were spared at the notion of some lord? What folly. But there is no need for you to understand further, broodling. You have played your part up to this point. And now, it is time for your kin to do the same. Shepherd, return to your flock!”
There were so many thoughts running through Cyrilaux’s head, but no more time to speak them. Time itself had seemed to slow down to a crawl as he watched Yuhelmeric draw his sword and plunge it straight down, just below the still limp Valmont’s neck and clean through the lower back. Blood began trickling down the fullers of the blade, slowly at first, but steadily flowing out faster and faster until a torrent of viscous red fluid had completely covered part of the floor. Valmont’s eyes had opened in excruciating pain, but he himself could not move his body to resist. After but a few moments, at last the once-flush face of the young Elezen had drained away completely, and he closed his eyes for the very last time.
Yuhelmeric withdrew his sword. Valmont’s body immediately collapsed to the floor like it was nothing more than old flan slowly melting away. Cyrilaux could not believe what was happening, but could barely concentrate on his present circumstances. The aether had grown so thick as to be visible in the air, almost palpable, like a mist. The light of Dalamud had intensified so much as to be nearly blinding. And something was happening outside. Horrifying sounds in the distance were becoming ever louder. What started as low, formless echoes on the mountainside could now be heard as a distinctive roar of a dragon. A great one.
The cultists were equally as awestruck at the current scene as Cyrilaux. Some were equally as horrified, as if they suddenly realized the insanity of what they had done. Yuhelmeric, however, appeared completely enthralled by the mere presence of whatever creature was just outside of the Vigil’s walls. He turned once again to Cyrilaux.
“Finally, our god is come! Now, to offer the broodling as tribute!” He brandished a short knife from his side and ran up to his captive. “Blood, more blood! My Shepherd, accept this living sacrifice to do with what you will.” Grabbing Cyrilaux’s by the head, Yuhelmeric inserted the tip of the knife just under his left eye and began dragging it slowly down his face. The pain was sharp as warm blood began streaming down to his chin, but Cyrilaux would not be a willing prisoner. Yuhelmeric did not get far before being kicked to the floor.
“Struggle all you wish, broodling, but it is futile. My Shepherd and I have all the time in the world to use you as his plaything. At least you’re proving to be an entertaining toy for Him!” Yuhelmeric got up, ready to strike again, but there would be no second chance. Without warning, the outer wall of the chapel burst inward as some sort of asteroid crashed straight through and landed directly at the room’s center. The resulting blast was forceful enough to fling Cyrilaux well across the room, breaking him from his binds. Miraculously uninjured, but disoriented, he again passed out on the floor.
The young man finally regained consciousness to the smell of smoke and burning carcasses. Most of the cultists had died instantly; others, severely maimed or incapacitated by the explosion. Scanning the room showed no signs of Valmont’s body. There was no time to linger at the scene – he had to get out, fast, or risk being taken captive again. He ran as fast as he could through the never ending hallways of the Dusk Vigil, slowly descending towards the ground floor. The bodies of soldiers were strewn everywhere – had the cultists really managed to kill everyone in the entire garrison by a surprise attack? Were there even more of them outside? Cyrilaux picked up a deceased knight’s polearm, ready to fight his way out at all costs.
Thankfully, whatever caused the sudden explosion seemed to have triggered a mass panic and evacuation of the vigil, as the remainder of the stronghold was completely deserted of anything other than corpses. Even the front gates were left haphazardly ajar, and Cyrilaux was able to walk straight out to western Coerthas without meeting any resistance.
As he walked through Coerthas exhausted, battered, and scarred, Cyrilaux tried to process the events in the vigil. What did the inquisitors mean by his parents resuming their “true form?” How did his family have the blood of dragons? Why did Valmont – and Rinelle – have to die as sacrifices in some nefarious plot? Was there even a point to fighting an endless war with the Dravanian Horde? The more he thought, the less clear it all seemed. Even stranger still, the once-massive Dalamud was nowhere to be found in the sky…
Most importantly, where could he possibly go now? With these new revelations, the entire Holy See was surely compromised by the cultists. Cyrilaux could never remain in Ishgard without being hunted down. Even Lord Edmont, he and Valmont’s protector…was his entire act of charity ten years ago a complete lie? No, there was no point in asking. Ishgard could no longer be his home. He would have to make a new life elsewhere in Eorzea. But for now, he just kept walking…
Work in progress.
Work in progress.