The lord of the wyrms played a major role in the end of the 2.x story series in Final Fantasy XIV, and he was a pretty big influence through all of Heavensward. Yet the reality is that we don’t know a great deal about him beyond the fact that he’s old, powerful, and pursuing his own agenda with gusto. He’s neither an enemy nor an ally, precisely, even though he fulfills both roles over the course of the MSQ. And there was something about all of that sitting with some discomfort in the back of my mind.
A couple of weeks ago, I realized what it was that bothered me. Fair warning: Today’s column contains spoilers for the ongoing MSQ, albeit not major ones, and a whole lot of speculation. If you haven’t yet done the quests and want to avoid some minor spoilers, you may not want to click below, although I assure you that the spoilers you will see aren’t major plot points.
See, Midgardsormr does not show up in the post-3.0 quests. At all. He’s not mentioned, he’s not present, and he’s not a character. And that seems, on some level, to be intensely weird.
A surface reading would say that of course he’s not there, he flew off at the end of Heavensward‘s story after a few words with Aymeric. His part is done. But then you start to think about it, and you realize that “his part” apparently involved doing nothing about his wayward children, despite the fact that he explicitly tells the player that he’s coming along because of what it means for Nidhogg and Ishgard. By the end of 3.2, there are several things that seem like stuff which Midgardsormr would like to be a part of… which he either doesn’t care about or simply doesn’t care to involve himself in.
When you stop to think about it, that’s when you start to notice some other oddities about Midgardsormr. His interactions with Tiamat make it clear that he cares quite a bit about his brood, but he also seems to hold no malice for Ishgard despite the nation’s actions. He also strips you of Hydaelyn’s blessing right before you really need it, and you spend a good chunk of Heavensward getting it back, despite the fact that he tells you outright that you’ll be glad you lost it.
So what is Midgardsormr really after? What do his actions accomplish? I thought about that for a while, about your meeting with Tiamat before the final battle, and I came to a conclusion. Which puts a lot of what had happened into an interesting light.
Midgardsormr makes sure that Lahabrea and Igeyorhm die.
Think about the sequence of events. He strips you of Hydaelyn’s blessing before you fight Nabriales, but then you kill Nabriales before he can communicate with any of the other Ascians. So you encounter them again, and they know that you no longer have the blessing. They know you can be ignored. And so you face them at the end of the main scenario, and then you do have the blessing of light once more. They were unprepared. You kill one and Thordan kills the other.
But something happens before you kill them. They merge, and they tell you explicitly that this is the real power of the Echo. Implying that there’s something very fundamental to the Echo that we still don’t understand, and hearkening back to some of the confusion swirling around the nature of Shiva and Hydaelyn’s gift.
So let’s rewind, and let’s see if we can’t trace back Midgardsormr’s motivation, starting with the Garlean assault on Silvertear Lake. Obviously, he was motivated to stop them. But it’s also pretty clear that despite what we were told, he didn’t die when crushing the flagship. He was hurt, but he wasn’t dead, and he comes back as soon as he senses the player approach. That seems to imply that he was waiting for something… something like the approach of a being with the Echo, a trait also possessed by the Ascians.
The Ascians who led to the creation of Bahamut. The Ascians that he hates. Far more than he hates a group of short-lived spoken beings who killed one of his brood, he hates the Ascians. Hates them with a fury he cannot articulate, because the degrees of severity don’t exist in the tongue of dragons.
He senses that the player is touched by Hydaelyn as well, yes, but he’s not taking chances. He strips the blessing of light and says that he’s coming along, because he wants to see what happens next. The player may be entirely on the level, as good as Hydaelyn believes, but Midgardsormr needs to find out for himself. It’s only when it becomes clear that the player is able to regain the Blessing despite the elder dragon’s actions that he’s willing to show a bit of faith.
But make no mistake, Midgardsormr knew that his time to act again was coming. He could hear Nidhogg’s song rising once more. He knew that it was all just a matter of time; it is unlikely if not impossible that he was unaware of the state of Nidhogg’s eyes. It was a matter of when Ishgard became desperate enough for it to work, and when that desperation would start to be appealing to the Ascians, individuals whom he knows work off of despair and misery.
So he used the player as a catspaw. A tool to make sure that his enemies were dealt with.
That is what Midgardsormr is concerned with, and when you think about it, it makes a certain amount of sense. Survival of the species is not a concern for him. The future of Nidhogg’s crusade and the fate of Ishgard are irrelevant to him. Midgardsormr operates at a scale which is so far beyond the average spoken lifespan that he can sit and seem dead for decades without giving the slightest inclination that he’s alive. And now he’s off again, unconcerned with Nidhogg… watching something else. Waiting.
What is he waiting for? I don’t know. But given the presence of the Dark Warriors and the developments in the Dragonsong War, I think it’s safe to say that we haven’t seen the last of him. And his absence, far from being indicative of not caring, is instead the sign of someone who cares quite a bit… and is prepared to wait for the right time to act.
Or the development team just wrote what they considered a fitting end to his role and let him slump off into the night without a second thought. It is possible that I am overthinking this a fair bit.
As always, feedback is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next time around, I want to talk about expectations for the next expansion and what I think is fair, unfair, or wildly unrealistic.