Scenario:Pholia - Where Resolute Winds Blow

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Where Resolute Winds Blow

Pholia and Bai Ze visit Bestia Island next, but they're not alone—taking care to avoid a detachment of Istavion troops investigating Otherworld power, the pair find Echidna in a forest. After reassuring Pholia and Bai Ze that the Otherworld power no longer poses a threat, Echidna's motherly instincts help the two travelers relax, and Pholia drifts off into a peaceful sleep.

After leaving Idelva in self-imposed exile, Pholia and Bai Ze travel around the Nalhegrande Skydom without any real sense of urgency.
One day they find themselves on Bestia Island, home of the primal beast Echidna.
Bai Ze: I don't mean to disapprove, but what business do we have upon this island?
Pholia: I'm no longer a citizen of Idelva. Therefore this island is no longer off-limits to me.
Pholia: Weren't you the one who told me not to be shackled by the past?
Bai Ze: Yes, but you must have noticed them by now as well.
Bai Ze lowers his head, pointing to a thicket off in the distance.
Bai Ze: For whatever reason, there's a garrison of Istavion troops present. If they discover us—
Pholia: Yes, if. All we have to do is not let that happen.
Pholia proceeds to skip into a forest, where sunlight filters through its canopy. She deftly avoids making a sound.
Pholia: I heard this island suffered terribly when Gilbert invaded.
Pholia: What happened afterward weighed on my mind, so I wanted to come see for myself.
Bai Ze: Is this a personal trip then? Or are you gathering information such as one in a position of power would?
Pholia: Does it really matter what my motives are? I'm curious. When I get curious, I investigate. That's all there is to it.
Pholia and Bai Ze continue to banter while walking deeper into the forest.
Soon a primal beast comes out to greet them—she's half-humanoid half-serpent but all smiles.
Echidna: My home is your home. I've been waiting for the both of you.
Pholia: Mm... Home has a nice ring to it. It makes me feel strangely at peace.
Pholia: Cain's report was spot-on. We've barely been acquainted, yet you've already accepted us for who we are.
Echidna: Haha, why wouldn't I? Mommy knows best.
Pholia: You're unable to suppress your maternal instincts, correct? I certainly didn't expect to be showered with such motherly love at this point in my life.
Pholia: Anyway, I was told that the release of Otherworldly power on this island was a harrowing incident.
Pholia: What happened after that? Were you able to weather the storm?
Echidna: Yes. When the Great Wall was destroyed, the gate that channeled the Otherworld, Gilbert, closed as well.
Echidna: Some soldiers from Istavion are here to check the situation too, but there shouldn't be any more problems from the Otherworld.
Pholia: Ah, of course. So they sent scouts to ascertain the Otherworldly power.
Echidna: That's what it looks like. They come regularly, so it's gotten a bit noisy.
Bai Ze: It behooves us to create distance from them immediately. They mustn't know we're here.
Echidna: Oh dear. It appears you have a history with them. But not to worry.
Echidna: Those children hardly ever approach me.
Echidna: I think they're afraid my power will make them homesick, even though all I want is to give them a big hug.
Echidna: But this situation obviously works out better for you two.
Pholia: In other words, we won't be bothered as long as we stick close to you?
Echidna: That's right. Still, I would love nothing more than to see everyone get along...
Pholia: Heh-heh-heh... Reliable to the end. I can feel your power resonating throughout my body even.
Pholia: Yaaawn...
Pholia raises both of her arms in a wide arc, a hearty yawn escaping her lips.
Pholia: There's this sense of being able to let your hair down, just like when arriving home to the castle in Idelva. This was also noted in the report.
Echidna: Haha... It's easy to get sleepy in the comfort of safety.
Echidna: This sunny spot is just perfect for an afternoon nap. The sun will warm you right up.
Pholia: Hm... I'm the type of person who can't fall asleep without a pillow.
Pholia turns to Bai Ze and points to a patch of grass illuminated by sunlight.
Pholia: Bai Ze, lie down over there.
Bai Ze: May I remind you, Sovereign, that I am not a dog, much less a pillow.
Pholia: Close enough for me. You're as fluffy as any dog or pillow I've ever seen!
Pholia: So why haven't you moved yet? My beauty rest is waiting!
Bai Ze: ...
As you wish.
Pholia: ...
Bai Ze lies down as commanded, and Pholia rests her head against the living pillow with a satisfied sigh.
The sun wraps the two in a warm embrace. Echidna, without a word, gently strokes both their heads.
Echidna: Sleep tight.
Echidna: Let my lullaby soothe you. Close your eyes, and forget your fears and sadness.
Pholia: Mm... I will...
The young woman's heavy eyelids slowly shut, and her chest rises and falls with a gentle rhythm.

Where Resolute Winds Blow: Scene 2

Pholia dreams about the crimes she has committed at the True King's behest. Following his orders was the only way she could taste freedom, but the guilt of her actions is too much to bear. Bai Ze appears before Pholia, asking her to become the ruler of Nalhegrande. When Pholia refuses, Bai Ze takes her high up into the sky to give her a new perspective.

Pholia is having a dream.
She has returned to the time when the Torhid Kingdom ruled over Nalhegrande, before the founding of Idelva.
Not long after being freed from an underground prison, she is coerced into participating in the True King's conspiracy.
Resistance Fighter: Uaargh!
Pholia: ...
Istavion Soldier: Masterfully done, Princess Pholia.
At times she deceives. At times she assassinates. And when the need arises, she hunts down dissenters.
Pholia is skilled, though one could call it misfortune. The powerful magic she possesses stunts her growth, altering the color of both her eyes.
But it is only by using this power that she is granted freedom.
As such, she is convinced that this is the correct course of action.
Istavion Soldier: Annihilation of resistance fighters confirmed. Return to base.
Pholia: Understood.
Pholia follows behind her Istavion attendant as they walk through a battle-scorched town.
Resistance Fighter: Ngh... Aagh...
There under a pile of dead bodies, a rebel moans in pain.
He's covered in fresh wounds, though none appear to be fatal. He was partially shielded by a crowd of people, none of whom were lucky enough to survive.
Istavion Soldier: Tch... Looks like someone cheated death.
Istavion Soldier: Gwaah!
Resistance Fighter: Huff... Huff...
Summoning the last of his strength, the wounded rebel crawls out from the corpse pile and rams into the Istavion soldier.
Resistance Fighter: My wife... is waiting... My unborn child... is waiting...
Pholia: ...!
The soldier staggers into Pholia, who is overcome with fear, and grabs her.
He brings his knife up to her throat, ready to slash away her life.
Resistance Fighter: I can't die here... My family is waiting for me!
Pholia: ...
Pholia sees the desperation in the man's eyes. She's unable to look away, her body refusing to move.
At that moment she resigns herself to losing her life. She has lost the will to oppose imminent death.
Pholia: ...
A life will soon be taken. She closes her eyes, letting fate run its course. Soon she feels a spray of blood on her face.
Pholia: Wha?
Resistance Fighter: Urgh...
Pholia opens her eyes. The hilt of a sword juts out the back of the rebel who tried to kill her.
He lies motionless in a pool of his own blood. The glint in his eye from underneath his helmet has been extinguished forever.
Istavion Soldier: I apologize for my lapse in judgment. Are you all right?
Pholia: Y-yes... I'm fine...
Pholia: ...!
She looks down at her hands which are trembling uncontrollably.
Pholia: (Was I petrified? Of what?)
Istavion Soldier: Princess Pholia?
Pholia: Tell me: was this man truly a bad person?
Pholia: Even though he was at death's door, he was concerned for the welfare of his family...
Istavion Soldier: The enemy can be afforded no sympathy, Princess.
Istavion Soldier: All individuals who oppose the True King are criminals regardless of circumstance. That includes family members.
Pholia: Criminals...
Pholia: I... suppose so...
There was always time for doubt. It wasn't as if she didn't know her actions were causing others pain.
But Pholia never questioned anything. Doubt was not allowed.
Ignorant in part due to an upbringing in captivity, or what some would call brainwashing, her desire for freedom felt like a pipe dream.
Every aspect of her surroundings had funneled her into the hands of a villain.
Pholia: So this is the price of the things I've done in exchange for my freedom...
Pholia's reward for carrying out all of the True King's commands is a skydom embroiled in war.
She mulls over the freedom she has secured for herself as she watches thick black smoke billow from a distant island.
Pholia: I'm sorry... This is all my doing...
Bai Ze: ...
A beast steps out from the shadows and takes a spot next to Pholia, moonlight glinting off his elegant white fur.
Pholia: Quite a big stray we have here. Come to beg me for food?
Bai Ze: Not as such, no. I am a beast of the Astrals. My name is Bai Ze.
Pholia: Beast of the Astrals... Ah, a primal.
Pholia wipes away her tears and looks at the dignified beast.
Bai Ze: I have observed worthy leadership qualities within you.
Bai Ze: You are the one to lead this skydom out of the storm clouds of conflict. Join me in guiding the people to a better tomorrow.
Pholia: Sigh... The point of a joke is to invoke some semblance of humor.
Pholia: Congratulations on sniffing out a sinner. I will never be worthy of sitting upon any throne.
Pholia: And certainly not one for Nalhegrande...
Bai Ze: This is not a joke. I am making an earnest request.
Bai Ze attempts to persuade Pholia to see his way of thinking.
But Pholia stubbornly refuses, believing that her transgressions preclude her from being fit to rule.
Bai Ze: ...
Bai Ze's function as a primal beast is to seek out individuals born to lead, and act as their counsel.
Once he acknowledges an individual of merit, he will never betray them. As such, Bai Ze doesn't intend to give up on Pholia.
Pholia: You called yourself Bai Ze, yes? How long do you intend to stick to my heels?
Bai Ze: As long as I must. Wherever you go, there I will be.
Pholia: Since you refuse to leave me alone, can I ask you a question?
Bai Ze: Yes, you may, provided I have an answer.
Bai Ze's demeanor doesn't change as Pholia launches into a one-sided conversation.
Pholia: All I wanted was to experience the simple joys of a normal life.
Pholia: To watch the clouds. To gaze at the stars. To feel the wind against my body.
Pholia: I wanted to run as fast as my legs could carry me. To see what the world had to offer and to meet people from all walks of life.
Pholia: That was my only wish. And now, because of that wish, so many lives have been tossed aside.
Pholia: I'm scared. With one single wish, a wish that clouded my judgment...
Pholia: Sin upon sin was brought forth by the powers that flow within me. This is the reality of the freedom I've wrested for myself.
Pholia: But it's so frightening to think that the freedom I've yearned for would turn out like this!
Pholia: What should I do? What should I have done?
Pholia: Was I not allowed to dream of attaining ordinary happiness?
Pholia: Was I not supposed to trust in my own father's words?
Pholia: I just... I just don't know anymore. Someone tell me... what I should do...
Pholia: Sniff... Sob...
Pholia breaks down into tears, collapsing under the weight of her regrets.
Bai Ze makes no attempt to console her, opting to let Pholia cry herself out.
Bai Ze: You should open your eyes just a bit wider to see the big picture.
Bai Ze: A star appears unfathomably distant when seen from an island. The viewable sky directly above is but a tiny sliver.
Bai Ze: I will take you someplace higher where your perspective will be less restricted.
Pholia: How?
Bai Ze: Climb up on my back. Do not worry about formalities.
Pholia straddles Bai Ze's back at his insistence.
Bai Ze: We shall be off. Please hold on tightly.
The primal beast digs his paws firmly into the ground and kicks off high into the sky.

Where Resolute Winds Blow: Scene 3

Pholia grapples with the meaning behind freedom, living, and the sins of her past. Bai Ze tells Pholia that she can atone for her crimes by using her leadership qualities for the betterment of others, to which Pholia finally agrees to become sovereign. After waking from her dream, she and Bai Ze are ambushed by the Istavion troops from before.

Pholia: ...
Pholia is suspended high in the sky.
She hangs in the moonlight, peering down at dark islands floating against a black backdrop.
Bai Ze: What do you see?
Pholia: The sky is vast. More so than I could've imagined. There's no end to it in sight.
Pholia: It's like you told me before—your point being that I'm a mere speck in the sky.
Still too far to touch the stars, the pair head back down with the wind on their backs.
Pholia exhales in awe at the juxtaposition between majestic sky and grand world.
Pholia: The sky, the stars, the wind... I wanted it so badly, but it's been right here all along.
Pholia: It feels good... As if my heart has been purified...
Bai Ze: Yes. I get the same feeling as well.
Bai Ze: Sensing the subtle heartbeat of the world is a minute detail that proves you are alive.
Pholia: Proof of my existence... Life is, without a doubt, priceless.
With the twilight wind whistling around her, Pholia's melancholic heart is wrapped in tranquility.
There are many people out there just living their lives, total strangers in places she's never been to.
Seeing the dark islands from afar drives that point home. Her diminished regrets suddenly come surging back.
Pholia: I've lost all that I held dear...
Pholia: I am nothing when compared to the expanse of the sky. How did a mere nothing come to commit such a heinous crime?
Pholia: It's a boundless sin that can't be contained. It's too much for me to stop...
The emotional buildup overwhelms Pholia. She falls forward flat against Bai Ze's back.
Bai Ze: If you threw yourself off into the bottom of the sky, your body would burn away, along with the guilt that plagues you.
Bai Ze: Others, however, will live on to suffer their hardships. The quick way out will solve nothing.
Pholia: ...
I know that.
Bai Ze: Once a crime is committed, it cannot be taken back. However, atonement can be achieved in the form of saving the survivors.
Bai Ze: You possess the strength to shepherd the lost. Take up the crown and deliver the masses from their sorrows.
Pholia: You claimed I possess the qualities of a good leader.
Pholia: What makes me the right person to rule Nalhegrande?
Bai Ze: Your circumstances leave you in a position to appreciate the simple nature of happiness.
Bai Ze: Only certain people truly understand the value of life.
Bai Ze: You bear the weight of your crimes against Nalhegrande without making excuses.
Bai Ze: It is for that mindset that I have decided to lend you my strength.
Bai Ze speaks without hesitance in his voice, and the conviction in his words finally seems to reach Pholia.
Pholia: I honestly don't know if I'm the right person to become the sovereign.
Pholia: But I do know that dying in the gutter with my regrets will change nothing. This opportunity will not come twice.
Pholia: I'll take your challenge. Will you be there to support me?
Bai Ze: Yes. We shall go forth together, Sovereign.
Pholia: You don't waste time, do you...
Pholia, with Bai Ze's backing, makes a decision to become the sovereign so that she may atone for her crimes.
She keeps her past hidden, employing underhanded tactics when necessitated, all in a bid to keep appearances for her subjects.
And so days and months pass with Nalhegrande getting stronger until it can stand independently without Pholia's guidance.
Pholia: Mm...
Pholia awakens under the trees of Bestia Island.
Echidna: Hehe... You're finally awake. Did you sleep well?
Pholia: Yes, thanks to you.
Echidna: You must be hungry. Let me go make something for you.
Echidna happily slithers away into the brush.
Bai Ze: Do you wish to sleep longer?
Pholia: No. I had quite a long dream.
Pholia: I think it was telling me that my time as sovereign bore fruit.
Bai Ze: Yes. You were a splendid ruler.
The young woman stares up into budding leaves, where little birds cheerfully chirp away.
Pholia: (It's so calm and peaceful on this island. I can certainly picture living out the rest of my days here...)
???: Now! Move in!
Bai Ze: ...!
Bai Ze: Sovereign, we must prepare to fight. Istavion troops are coming this way.
Istavion Soldier: Echidna has left the premises! This is our best chance to secure the princess!
Pholia: Humph...
Pholia: Making me get up from my comfy bed is an egregious offense.
Pholia: Heads will roll for this! You shouldn't have made me angry!

Where Resolute Winds Blow: Scene 4

Once the Istavion troops are defeated, Pholia and Bai Ze take to the skies again. As Pholia looks out upon the world from above, she feels refreshed by a newfound sense of purpose and muses about joining the crew when they return from the bottom of the skies.

Istavion Soldier: Argh!
Bai Ze: Grrr...
Istavion Soldier: Damn it...
Istavion Soldier: Retreat! Call for reinforcements!
Pholia: Did they honestly think a few ants stood any chance against giants? This is a slight against my pride.
Echidna: Are you two okay?
Echidna: I'm sorry. This is because I left your side without a second thought...
Pholia: It's not your fault. In fact, we should be thanking you for allowing us to get some rest without being disturbed in the first place.
Bai Ze: It was all a matter of unfortunate timing.
Bai Ze: We could have just as easily made the mistake of leaving ourselves open by resting somewhere else.
Echidna: Hehe... Thank you for being so understanding to your mommy.
Echidna: But I'll stay with you from now on. I won't let anything happen to you.
Pholia: Mm... That won't be necessary.
Echidna: Oh? How come?
Pholia: This is a charming place, where even wounded primal beasts can take solace in its tranquility.
Pholia: But it's a little too inviting. Without a supply of those repugnant soldiers to punish, I'll slip into a habit of sloth.
Pholia: I want to go on a journey. I'll save my peaceful retirement for another day.
Pholia: Is that acceptable, Bai Ze?
Bai Ze: Yes. If the sovereign asks me to go, then I will go.
Echidna: I see... Then I guess you'll be on your way.
Echidna: I'll be very lonely without you, but a mother knows not to get in the way of her children's freedom.
Echidna: I'll be here waiting for you. Please come back whenever you need a break.
Pholia: We will.
Pholia: Take care, Echidna! I had a wonderful time!
Slipping past the surveillance of the Istavion troops, Pholia and Bai Ze arrive at the outer edge of the island.
She climbs onto the primal's back, and they launch into the air, scouring the horizon for their next destination.
Pholia: Hoo-hoo... I want to go to an island with delectable cuisine!
Pholia: Hm. On second thought, I grow tired of an eat, sleep, repeat lifestyle.
Pholia: I think I'll partake in a lively festival! I want to wear a fox mask, and get my hands on cotton candy, and dance on top of one of those wooden platforms!
Pholia: Where can we find one, Bai Ze? Take me there right now!
Bai Ze: You're overstimulated. It's fair to enjoy one's self, but you must temper your emotions and remain inconspicuous.
Pholia: It'll be fine! Festivals are meant to be loud and exciting!
Pholia throws a tantrum, slapping Bai Ze's back as she rocks from side to side.
Pholia: Sigh...
With her pent-up energy expended, she glances at her surroundings. The view reminds her of the night sky from her dream.
Pholia: This is just like the time you first came to me.
Bai Ze: Yes. I still remember it well.
Pholia: Back then I felt as if I were being crushed by the sheer size of the sky.
Pholia: Now I find it liberating, though I can't pinpoint why...
Bai Ze: The best I can do is show you the extent of Nalhegrande.
Bai Ze: Once we leave this skydom, we may very well encounter even greater skies.
Pholia: I hope so. (Captain) and the others are seeking an incredibly vast sky of their own.
Bai Ze: You should join their travels if that's what you wish for.
Bai Ze: Everything is within your control.
Pholia: ...
Pholia plays with Bai Ze's long fur, wrapping several strands around her finger as she considers his suggestion.
Pholia: If, by some chance, they return from the bottom of the sky, and I get to see them again...
Pholia: I'll ask if you and I can hop aboard.
Bai Ze: A sound idea, Sovereign.
The pair receive a strong tailwind, as if the current were urging them forward.
Freed from the fetters they'd once been chained by, the journey of a young woman and her primal beast has only just begun.