My fellow pilgrims had lost family, friends, and lovers in the Great War. Many of them consider the grueling pilgrimage to Ro'Maeve as a trial that will open the Gates of Paradise for them.
An aged theologian from a shattered land told stories of the rise of beastmen and people.
He spoke of the arrogance and ultimate demise of the ancients, who foolishly attempted to pry open the gates of paradise. He then continued on to the creation of the modern people, born of Altana's merciful tears, and the beastmen, spawned by Promathia to serve as our adversaries.
But to me, now, these stories ring hollow, without meaning.
Goddess! Shine your light on my fellow pilgrims!
After the others had drifted off to sleep, I sat down to speak with the theologian about Ro'Maeve as we watched the fire. Suddenly, a beast with streaming long hair attacked us.
I grabbed the beast's attention in an attempt to save the old man. I ran at a dead sprint, with the monster on my heels the whole way. When I realized that the creature had given up the chase, I also realized that I did not know where I was or how I had gotten there.
I'll seek shelter in this tree for tonight, then head north toward Ro'Maeve in the morning.
Goddess! Grant your protection to the pilgrims!
I passed through a gate into the grounds of a shrine surrounded by white walls.
The main shrine was directly to the north, at the top of some gently sloping steps. Shining just above the steeple was the North Star.
I know not how many days I wandered through the forest, but I had finally arrived at Ro'Maeve.
There is no sign of other people here. Are the other pilgrims still wandering in the dark forest?
I have decided to wait out the night under the gate and will visit the main shrine when day breaks. Perhaps the others will arrive soon as well.
Goddess! Please forgive me the sin of resting on holy lands.
I awoke after midnight with the feeling that someone was calling my name. Looking up, I saw the pale moonlight bathing the side of the shrine.
There was no sign of the other pilgrims, so I decided to enter the shrine alone.
I slowly climbed up the stairs, winding my way around a fallen stone pillar and an unsettling guardian statue.
The main shrine revealed itself to possess a dignity and majesty dwarfing even that of the Cathedral in San d'Oria.
I breathed deeply as I entered the hall. The shrine was brighter than I had expected; the stairway that ran between the pillars seemed to float in the pale moonlight pouring in from the ceiling. I thought I could hear sacred hymns in the soft sounds of the wind.
At the top of the stairs, I passed through an archway with three crystals embedded within. I walked on shaky legs, remembering that the old man had said the Goddess was enshrined in the main hall of the temple.
Perhaps unconsciously needing something to grasp, I grabbed hold of a Ranperre goldpiece in my pocket. As I did so, all of the people and beastmen I'd met on my journeys came flooding back into my mind. Mysteriously, the trembling in my legs subsided.
I swallowed hard as I crossed the great hall. I then caught sight of the statue of the Goddess.
On the far side of the enormous hall, I could see the Goddess Altana, with her arms and wings spread as if to welcome me.
That sight filled me with a bliss I had never dreamed possible.
If only I could share with the people and beastmen of the world the sheer joy of being wrapped in the love of the Goddess, war would cease to exist in the world. The euphoria brought tears to my eyes.
And then the coin slipped from my hand. Though the goldpiece was small, it made a loud metallic sound as it struck the floor.
It was this sound that brought me back to my senses.
After retrieving the coin, I walked down an aisle lined with pillars on both sides, each representing a god I had never seen or heard of. I slowly approached the altar in the center of the hall.
I kneeled before the Goddess Altana and cried "Why? Why must people and beastmen hate one another? Why must we constantly wage war?"
But the sweet voice of the Goddess offered no reply. Silence once again enveloped me.
I was about to ask again when I looked up at the statue and noticed that her gaze did not fall upon the altar.
She was looking at someone behind me. With a sense of dread and premonition, I turned around. Another god had been enshrined in the pillars behind me.
Facing the Dawn Goddess was a god with black wings. It was Promathia, God of Twilight.
His arms and wings were bound in chains. No face could be seen beneath his low-hanging hood.
Promathia's wretched figure almost seemed penitent, as if he had sought and accepted the punishment that had been placed upon him.
Could this truly be the image of the God who stood in opposition to Altana, and created the endless state of war in Vana'diel?
How long had I stood there? A soft light fell upon my cheeks.
Suddenly the dawn broke. Morning light poured in from the distant ceiling, illuminating the eight gods on the pillars and Promathia.
I turned around again as the sunlight touched me; the warm touch of the Goddess had returned.
The white-winged Goddess stood with arms spread and a smile on her face. It was as if she could embrace the entire world.
Her love for all of creation shone forth.
I felt that I had been answered. What I must seek is not the reason people and beastmen fight each other, but a way to forge an understanding between us, a solution.
For even if this hatred is our destiny, by knowing one another and deepening our understanding, we can break the chains that bind us.
Should I return to San d'Oria alive, I shall dedicate my life to forging an understanding between people and beastmen.
Goddess! Bear witness to my oath from the heavens!