Author’s Note: I was going to include the Story Analysis here, too, but that would’ve made this section way too long, defeating the purpose of breaking up the review anyway.
World of Balance
After the War of the Magi reduced the world to a scorched wasteland, magic (the equivalent of WMDs in our world) ceased to be. People forgot it ever existed ,eventually rebuilding with technology, which is why Terra, born with the gift of magic, is a major catalyst for the narrative and the reason her existence is such a game changer for the resistance.
The story opens with the fore-named without one (it’s literally ???????) and two imperial soldiers, Biggs and Wedge (eternal Star Wars reference) looking down on the mining city of Narshe. Narshe is significant not only for narrative purposes, but also for being the one town found in a mountain crevice. The only other such places are caves or dungeons. The soldiers and the unnamed girl are riding what’s revealed to be Magitek Armor, granting them untold military prowess, which quickly explains how the Empire conquered so much of the world.
The reason for their presence becomes apparent in Biggs’ and Wedge’s discussion: an Esper was found in a Narshian mine, and they were deployed to secure it. Neither of them understands why the strange girl was sent with them, especially considering she fried around fifty imperial soldiers; however, they’re reassured by the slave crown she wears, forcing her to follow orders. As they approach the wintry village, Terra’s haunting theme provides a background for the opening credits.
The people are Narshe are understandably upset with what they see as an imperial invasion. They consider themselves neutral, and since the Esper was found in one of their mines, it’s not just for the Empire’s taking. The Empire; however, has quite a different view and the firepower to back it up. Magitek Armor allows three soldiers (or two soldiers and one mysterious girl) to literally blaze through the town’s defenses.
When they find the still frozen Esper, it emits a powerful light beam that kills Biggs and Wedge, while simultaneously destroying the slave crown their captive was forced to wear. The next scene shows her waking up in a bed, tended by Arvin, an old man who found her unconscious in the mine. He shows her the slave crown and says the others had complete control over her while she was wearing it (which means he must’ve also discovered their charred bodies…creepy), and it’s here she remembers her name: Terra. Before the young woman can come to terms with anything that’s happened, the Narshian guard comes banging on the door, demanding Arvin give her up, which forces him to literally rush Terra out the back door with the promise of help to come.
Unfortunately, the high path he sets her on still offers the guards a clear view of her flight, and even when she makes it to the mines Terra has to contend with rats and other ne’er-do-wells. Her luck only worsens when her pursuers close in, triggering the cave floor beneath to collapse, leaving her unconscious once more.
While in this liminal state, the young woman flashes back to the time where she incinerated fifty Imperial soldiers under the influence of the slave crown, much to a man in motley’s mad amusement. Later, she stands in the background while the emperor declares a new age of warfare and conquest, and his generals gladly salute.
Meanwhile, back in Narshe, intrepid adventurer and “treasure hunter” Locke Cole arrives at Arvin’s house, wisely taking the back entrance to avoid the ruckus at the front.
After he and the old miner share good-natured jibes that prove they go way back like car seats, Arvin asks the thief to do him a solid in helping his new friend out. Locke is initially reluctant since he’s already heard about a “Magitek riding witch sent by the Empire,” but Arvin insists she didn’t know what she was doing per the slave crown, and Locke just can’t turn down saving a damsel in distress.
He manages to find her…at the same time the Narshian guard closes in, and I have to give the so-called treasure hunter some props, because he’s prepared to go down fighting for a girl he doesn’t even know, but fortune favors and bold, and Locke gets some help from Mog and the other moogles who dwell in the caves.
With their help, he’s able to vanquish the guard captain and carry Terra to safety. She wakes up right before he presses a secret switch opening a way out of the mountain, and it’s here we find one of Final Fantasy’s favorite tropes: amnesia.
Besides her name and disjointed information, Terra has no memory of who she is. Her amnesia is a huge trigger for Locke, though we don’t find out why until later. He does tell her that someone important to him was jailed by the Empire and he’s hated them ever since, though who that person is is never made clear. Was it a parent? A sibling? Was it a loose plot thread that was never tied up?
Following Arvin’s advice, Locke takes Terra south to the desert kingdom to seek help from the monarch there. King Edgar Roni Figaro is not only one of Locke’s old friends, but Figaro and the Empire are allies.
Edgar is the “humorous,” womanizing character in the same vein as Edge from FFIV, but unlike Edge, the king of Figaro actually manages to be endearing despite some 90’s level cringe. I think what separates Edgar from Edge is his lack of arrogance as well as the game making his flirtatiousness a blatant cover for his grief. With Edge, we should have seen that, considering *spoiler* his parents were turned into monsters and he was forced to fight them before they died, *end spoiler* but the Eblan prince never seems to grow/change from that experience. Edgar comes off as a much better character, which might be helped by him having a jovial twin brother to balance him out. Either way I always thought he was pretty so I might be a little biased.
In an ironic twist, Edgar and his twin brother Sabin Rene Figaro fought over who’d be saddled with the throne as opposed to the inverse, as neither of them wanted the responsibiilty. So they tossed a coin. Edgar, as the “loser” remained in Figaro as king, while Sabin went to the Sabil Mountains to become a warrior monk.
Edgar almost immediately starts hitting on Terra, much to the young woman’s confusion. Then he gives her the run of the castle while he and Locke discuss the situation. As it turns out, the king of Figaro is an imperial ally in name only. He, as well as Locke, are really working with and financing the Returners, a group of rebels trying to undermine imperial rule, as they fear the Empire is poised to take over the world. Figaro and South Figaro are currently only free due to the perceived alliance, but the king and the thief know there’s trouble brewing. They decide to go to the hidden Returner base in the Sabil Mountains in order to confer with the leader of the rebellion Banon.
Of course before this can happen, an emissary from the Empire and the game’s most famous character shows up in a fanfare of iconic theme music.
Kefka Palazzo, embodying the creepy clown motif made famous by the Joker and Stephen King’s It, won’t even deign to respond to Edgar until he speaks with his retinue, but the king manages to get a zinger in by asking what “Kefka, lowly servant of Emperor Gestahl is doing in his kingdom,” which I’m certain pisses the arch mage off. Kefka was sent to recover Terra, but he brushes off her off as “a girl of no importance” who escaped from them. Edgar, not being a fool, casually answers that there are more girls out there than grains of sand, and with no other recourse or proof, Kefka and his lackeys leave, but not without a thinly veiled threat that “he hopes nothing happens to [Edgar’s] precious Figaro.”
Note: I actually cut my fanfic writing teeth on FFVI in attempting to novelize it. This part was so much fun to write because I could so easily visualize Kefka and Edgar going back and forth with subtle/not-so-subtle jibes that skate the edge of decorum, and it was so goddamn entertaining lol. Since I’ve read ASOIAF I really want to rewrite these scenes since I have some more experience with politic intrigue, and it would hella interesting to explore what was going on subrosa in the World of Balance.
After this encounter, Edgar returns to where Locke and (especially) Terra have been incognito. She asks who “that person” was, but Edgar tells her not to worry about it then has Locke show her to her room. That night the king is awakened to his castle in flames set by a gloating Kefka who demands Edgar surrender “the girl,” but he apparently forgot stone doesn’t burn and sand quenches fire. Edgar gives instructions to his chancellor before he, Terra, and Locke make their escape on chocobos, while Kefka tries to shame the king for leaving his people to die. However, much to his surprise, the castle compacts itself before burrowing underground to the chancellor’s declaration of “No one can touch the people of Figaro!” Seems as though Kefka either forgot Edgar was a master machinist or didn’t realize how good he was. Beyond pissed, he delivers a line that would’ve been far more colorful than “Son of a submarine, they’ll pay for this!” had the game not been on a Nintendo system with their draconian censorship rules then sends soldiers in Magitek Armor after the trio.
During the fight, Terra reveals her magical abilities, which utterly flabbergast Edgar and Locke (and the game cleverly explains away how Locke wouldn’t have already seen that on their travels by having him just figure his companion was “loaded for bear”). As they make their way to the cave leading to South Figaro, the treasure hunter comments that surely no one human would have those type of powers, causing Terra to stop her chocobo as she digests the implication of those words. Locke immediately apologizes, and they continue on their way with Kefka’s visit and the subsequent fire at Figaro Castle at least convincing the young woman to meet with the Returners’ leader in their Sabil Mountain hideout.
South Figaro is a lively town under Edgar’s jurisdiction (though he doesn’t get his royal discount there). The richest resident is selling secrets to the Empire; a man named Vargas killed his father Duncan for giving away his birthright, and there are other foundations laid at the time that don’t come to fruition until later, one of them that involves meeting the assassin known as Shadow in the pub.
Edgar, being his garrulous (and slightly arrogant) self, becomes indignant when the elusive figure won’t answer him, and Locke has to step in to warn his royal friend away from unnecessary trouble claiming the man “would slit his mother’s throat” for the right price. At the very least you find out his “name,” which guarantees we’ll be seeing more of him later.
Before heading into the Sabil Mountains, the trio come upon a house north of town, which brings back memories for the young king as he realizes his twin brother had been there. Outside is an old man who confirms Edgar’s suspicions along with more drama involving Vargas and Duncan. They then head through and over the Sabil Mountains where they are met with a nasty surprise.
That fore mentioned kin slayer Vargas is hanging out on the other side of the mountains, spoiling for a fight, which they’re are obliged to give him until a figure from Edgar’s past shows up to finish the job.
Sabin, the monarch’s monk brother, arrives to literally pummel Vargas into the ground, though he’s regretful at the necessity. No victory theme plays after the battle, because it’s not really a win when you have to kill your brother in training. Duncan, recognizing his son wouldn’t be a good successor, chose Sabin instead (in a similar motif to ASOIAF/GoT, Gladiator, and Kung Fu Panda) and showed him the Blitz techniques that are invaluable throughout the game. The other Figaro brother of course joins the group (giving you your fourth character), saying he’s been watching from on high hoping the world would regain some semblance of sense (and I just kind of nodded along to this futile sentiment).
The Returner’s hideout is located in a valley between mountains, and it’s here that Terra finally meets the leader of the rebellion Banon.
Banon relates the myth of Pandora to her, essentially tying Terra to the narrative, but she isn’t the eponymous character; humanity is. Terra is the hope left in the “box.” This gives the young woman something to consider as she mulls over her decision. Both the Empire and Returners want to use her, especially when the latter finds out she can wield magic. The difference is the rebels aren’t using coercion. Regardless what she chooses, a dire warning arrives in the form of an injured Returner. Imperial troops are on their way; South Figaro is now occupied; and the hideout isn’t safe anymore.
Locke heads to South Figaro. With his unique “treasure hunter” skills, he can stymie and disrupt the Empire’s efforts there. Meanwhile, Terra, the Figaro twins, and Banon escape on the rapid Lete River, fighting off monsters until they run into another fan favorite Ultros, a smart-mouthed octopus who loves causing trouble.
Sabin, as impetuous as ever, attempts to deliver a finishing blow after the battle is over, but he’s swept away by the powerful current in the opposite direction of his brother and friends. They’ve no choice but to continue onto Narshe with the hopes they’ll all eventually meet up there.
The story then splits into three parts that all indeed unite in Narshe in the end:
- The continuation of Terra, Edgar, and Banon’s journey (the shortest)
- Sabin’s adventures (the longest)
- Locke’s escape from the occupied city
We’ll start with not only the shortest, but also where we left off. Terra and Edgar continue protecting Banon as they continue along the churning Lete River to Narshe; however, upon arriving they’re met with less than the warmest welcome. The city is heavily guarded, and at the sight of Terra, they immediately kick them out, striking both Edgar (whom I guess no one recognizes as the neighboring kingdom’s monarch) and Banon when they try to intervene. There’s nothing for it but to use the hidden pathway through the mines Locke showed Terra when they first met. This conveniently leads right to Arvin’s backdoor.
Note: Another reason to do this scenario first is to have use of better equipment. If you unequip everyone right before you go into the old man’s house, you’ll be able to use it on other characters in the other scenarios. Plus, it’s really short since the goal was Narshe to begin with, and they were almost there.
In occupied South Figaro, Locke has been doing all he can to stymie the Empire’s efforts. What exactly that is isn’t ever explained, but a man of his particular talents probably has quite a number of methods to muck things up. Now he needs to get out of town to rendezvous with his friends in Narshe, but all of the city’s exits are guarded. This is where you discover the town fell to the Empire because of its wealthy informant. That asshole betrayed South Figaro and his kingdom for money he didn’t need, and he has the audacity to feel bad about it? I wish you could’ve killed him.
By challenging soldiers and stealing their clothes, Locke can learn even more secrets. There’s one house that’s only accessible to merchants so once Locke robs one of those, he has an in.
The child in the basement says his grandfather was once the greatest merchant in town, and if you bring the old man a cider, he’ll try to tell you the password, but unfortunately he forgets. It’s not difficult to guess it’s “Courage,” (though I do love the “Rosebud” Citizen Kane reference).
The secret passage leads to the basement of the rich man’s mansion where an important imperial prisoner and my favorite character is being kept.
General Celes Chere, the bane of Maranda, is accused of treason for trying to warn the people of Doma about a a potential war crime. When Locke first sees her, she’s being beaten bloody by a soldier who implies she’s going to be executed in the morning. He leaves another soldier to guard the disgraced general, but the man promptly falls asleep, making it easy for our intrepid treasure hunter to steal his key and unchain the high ranking captive (if Locke is still dressed as a merchant, she’ll dryly ask, “What do you hope to peddle here?”) Celes is obviously shocked that someone from the rebellion rescued her, but the only thing she seems concerned about is whether or not Locke can protect her (wut?).
Celes tells Locke the sleeping soldier kept talking about “winding a clock,” and indeed, though the next room looks like some storage space, there are two clocks where only one is ticking. When Locke winds it, another secret passage opens (tbh it’s not that surprising that South Figaro has these types of devices given their king is a master machinist who made a castle that can literally travel under the fucking sand).
The passage beyond is treacherous, filled with enemy soldiers and their dogs, but Locke soon realizes he’s once again in the company of a powerful, female magic user. Where Terra is a fire spirit, Celes is an Elsa-like ice queen who can also absorb magic with her runic blade.
Her runic skills come in handy when they make it out of South Figaro and enter the cave back to the castle. The Empire left tunnel armor there, a device similar to Magitek, but apparently not requiring a rider. With her sword, Celes can absorb the powerful magic attacks, meaning both her and Locke survive to make it to Narshe.
Sabin washes up on another continent not far from a lonely house. The inhabitant is an unstable, old man who thinks he’s there to fix the furnace. He calls the prince of Figaro by various wrong names until the exploding furnace and the elderly codger’s inability or unwillingness to help eventually annoy Sabin enough to leave. Outside is a merchant on a chocobo and, more interestingly, Shadow, the elusive ninja originally met in South Figaro. He decides to join the prince, though he warns him he can and will take off whenever he chooses.
The ninja and the warrior monk find an Imperial base near Doma Castle they must pass through in order to make it the long way back to Narshe, and it’s there, we meet Cyan Garamonde, loyal retainer to Doma’s king.
Though in his fifties, the samurai is still a formidable warrior, easily vanquishing a squadron and their commander on his own. Between him and Doma’s army, they’ve been staunchly holding off imperial forces while holed up in their castle.
Back at the base, Sabin and Shadow overhear two soldiers talking about the dire prospect of Kefka being promoted to general. The one actually admits to hating him and not even thinking he’s human like (yet another) fan favorite General Leo Cristophe.
Leo receives a letter from the emperor, ordering him back to Vector, which he of course obeys, though he’s surprised by it. He tells Kefka that he wants no trouble there, and it’s obvious the two of them have a tense relationship, especially since the arch mage scoffs that he should “run back to the emperor like a good, little boy.” Once the general takes his leave, Kefka immediately defies him and prepares to poison Doma’s water supply. Sabin, overhearing this, confronts the nefarious clown, though the battle doesn’t change anything. Kefka sends one of his lackeys to distract them, while he does the dastardly deed.
This, of course, causes the desired effect, and the denizens of Doma start dropping like flies. Cyan returns to find no one has survived the onslaught, and when the noble knight discovers his wife and son have been felled, too, he goes berserk. Storming the imperial base, the samurai faces off against any imperial soldier who’ll engage, and this is how Sabin and Shadow meet him. After helping the old retainer fend off the enemy, they steal Magitek Armor to escape the encampment (but don’t take it with them for some reason).
Sabin convinces the quaint-talking knight to come with him to Narshe, and with no other course available to him, he agrees; however, they must pass through the Phantom Forest first. While therein, they find a train station very out of place. Sabin, brash as ever, ignores Cyan’s frantic cries and boards. By the time he realizes they’re on the Phantom Train, it’s too late as the locomotive pulls out of the station. Filled with ghosts, some friendly some not, the train carries the three adventurers through the forest as they make their way to the engine where the train itself confronts them. A battle occurs (where you can literally have Sabin suplex the train lol), afterwards it agrees to let them go…but not before it makes a necessary stop.
It’s here we witness one of the game’s most heartbreaking scenes. Cyan sees his family for the last time as they board the train to the other side. He runs as far as the platform allows, calling out to them. Elayne, his wife, tells him that he made her so happy, while his son Owain promises to take care of his mother, and the last thing we see before the scene ends is the old knight standing in despair on the platform, while the train’s horn fades to silence.
Now Baren Falls lies before them, and Shadow leaves the company (if he hadn’t already). There’s nothing else to do but jump. Sabin is already used to fighting sea creatures and washing up on foreign shores, so it’s NBD for him to wind up on the Veldt, a huge expanse of land (with a bomb ass soundtrack) containing monsters from all over the world. Before he or Cyan regain consciousness, a boy draped in beast hides approaches, but startles when the prince of Figaro awakes.
This is Gau, whose very name sounds like a primitive, guttural sound (which makes sense for a wild child). At thirteen, he’s been surviving on his own in the wilderness, his existence hinted at prior by the old man with the broken furnace Sabin met when he recruited Shadow. It’s a miracle the boy can speak at all.
The Veldt itself holds creatures from all over the world, though there’s not an explanation for why they all migrate there, beyond being necessary for the game of course. There’s also the question of why doesn’t Gau already know all of the monster maneuvers, but of course if he did, you wouldn’t have to teach him anything.
Anyway, Sabin and Cyan traverse the Veldt’s expanse until they reach the town of Mobliz, which has been insulated from the fighting, knowing about it only through carrier pigeon. There’s also more talk about the strange man living by himself who threw out his child because he thought it was a monster. Gau’s awesome dad notwithstanding, the two travelers discover Mobliz isn’t entirely immune to the horrors of war, as there is a direly injured soldier who is too broken to even write to his sweetheart Lola. When the Empire invaded Maranda (the same city Celes burned), they forced him into service. He deserted before the attack on Doma, and when they caught him, they left him into that state. He manages to make it to Mobliz, and if Sabin and Cyan reply to Lola in his stead, he rewards them with Tintinabar, a powerful relic that allows one to recover with every step (now why the hell wouldn’t he have used that on himself..unless his injuries were too great for even that to heal. This is the “Phoenix Down question” just on smaller scale, I suppose). Also in Mobliz are the teen lovers Duane and Katrin, showcasing more of VI’s small scenarios that become little drops of hope later in a wearier world.
When the pair encounter Gau again on the Veldt, the boy is utterly shocked when they give him dried meat. He mimics Cyan’s archaic accent and tries to go toe to toe with Sabin, much to the warrior monk’s amusement, but it’s his mention of a special “shiny treasure” that gets their attention, as they need a way to traverse the Serpent’s Trench in Crescent Mountain, a seaway leading to the city of Nikeah. The treasure happens to be a diving helmet that miraculously fits on three people (I always imagined it being something with breathing tubes so they all could use it), and once again Sabin and Cyan take a plunge with Gau in tow through the winding Serpent’s Trench with its kick ass music.
Washing up in Nikeah, they find a grand outside market and also hear the rest of Gau’s sad story. His mother died in childbirth, which drove his father to throwing the infant out onto the Veldt, so I’d say Gau is our “Missing Mother/Dickhead Dad” winner for this game.
Nikeah is only a ferry ride away from Narshe, and Sabin is reunited with his brother and friends with more reinforcements in tow. They will need them for the difficult times ahead.
With the gang all back together plus additional members, the council of Narshe can begin. Arvin has managed to not only smooth over the townsfolk in regards to Terra, but the village elder has agreed to at least consider the Returners’ request. There is a bit of tension between some of the newer members, as Cyan holds an understandable grudge against the Empire, and Celes was one of its generals. Though Locke vouches for her, the old knight is still distrustful, and to be honest, it is suspicious to have a general, the highest ranking officer, do such a sudden turn (…) or it would be if you didn’t know the prior circumstances (…). It’s not like a bell just went off and Celes decided to switch sides, and as Locke witnessed her reasons, it follows he believes in her intentions. Cyan saw the worst side of the Empire, and his life is forever changed because of it. When Terra admits to being formerly associated with them, too, the aging retainer nearly loses his mind until Edgar steps in with some fantastic wisdom about how while the Empire is an institution is evil, that doesn’t mean all of its citizens are. This is a concept explored in depth in the Story Analysis.
Narshe wants to maintain its neutrality, which seems pretty ridiculous considering how that worked out before. The Empire had no qualms sending their soldiers in with lethal force, so it’s unclear why they think anything will be different now. The meeting is interrupted by news the imperials are on their way, and Narshe, despite its declared neutrality, is about to become a battleground again.
Undeterred by the failure of the first mission in securing the esper, Gestahl ups the ante by deploying a full force led by Kefka to the mountain mining town (Final Fantasy likes making mountain towns the focus point of critical events, doesn’t it?). At this point since the Empire is literally invading the village, the people of Narshe have no choice but to defend themselves and the frozen esper (which they’ve moved to the cliffs) with the Returners’ help.
On their way to the heights, snatches of conversation are caught. Celes and Terra (who must have a really interesting history) talk about their past lives with the Empire. The former general was artificially infused with magic when she was a baby and raised as a Magitek Knight. Terra asks Celes if she’s ever loved anyone, which takes the ice queen back a bit. She doesn’t really understand the question, and even through the sprite graphics you can feel the awkwardness. Celes also has another encounter with Cyan who reiterates his distrust once more, while Edgar questions the former imperial officer about her motifs towards Locke to which she retorts that she’s “a general and not some lovestruck twit.”
Eventually cutting through Kefka’s forces leaves the party to face the arch mage who flees before he can be fully dispatched, ironically leaving behind the Peace Ring. The esper is safe again; however, Terra’s second confrontation with it reveals something none of them, let alone the young woman, could ever expect. Where before the creature freed her from the bounds of the slave crown, this time it awakens something in her. Before their eyes Terra changes into a being with white, spotted skin and wild hair.
She tears cross the sky with a banshee shaming screech, leaving her friends unable to fathom what just happened. Locke finally says what they’re all thinking: that Terra looked like an esper. She took off to the west and so there they must go to find their now stranger companion.
The company splits off again with one group heading to Figaro Castle, which has the ability to ferry them to the other side of the mountains, while the rest stay behind in Narshe. Including the twins (which you should) reveals more of their tragic backstory involving a two headed coin.
When their father the king died neither brother wanted the kingdom, but one of them had to assume responsibility. So they flipped a coin. Edgar called heads with full knowledge the coin had two because he knew his brother needed his freedom, and he was willing to sacrifice his own (also major props to Edgar for understanding what leadership is really about). So Sabin ran off to the Sabil Mountains to become a warrior monk, while Edgar remained in Figaro to assume the mantle of monarch.
Using the castle, the party travels west beneath the mountains to find Kolinghen, the once home of Locke’s late girlfriend Rachel. Some years ago the two of them were exploring a cave when the bridge beneath Locke started to collapse. Rachel pushed him to safety but fell herself, winding up in a coma. She eventually wakes but doesn’t remember him or much else. Furious, her father runs him out of town as he blames the treasure hunter for his daughter’s condition. With her amnesia, she’s unable to defend him and insists he leave since his presence is upsetting her parents. In utter grief Locke grants her wish, and then finds out later that she died in an imperial attack, regaining her memory to utter his name before she succumbed.
…but then the story goes from tragic to creepy AF.
Unable to let her go, Locke pays an eccentric herbalist (re: mad scientist) to keep Rachel in suspended animation until he can find a way to revive her a la Mr. Freeze in the Batman Animated Series. It’s both creepy and heartbreaking and explains why Locke was so put off by Terra’s admission of amnesia in Narshe.
The townspeople inform the party that they saw the fore mentioned flying south towards Jidoor so that’s where the group heads, finding serious gentrification issues that caused the city to not only be stratified but literally split. The poor people all left i.e. were forced out, building a village in the mountains to the north called Zozo, which is overrun with thieves. Nice.
Note: When I was younger I would’ve taken this a much different way, but now I know that poverty is a major indicator of crime not because poor people are inherently criminals but because being impoverished often means you have to turn to less than legal means to survive. Also, rich people commit even more egregious crimes than the poor; they just can afford to pay their way out of it and/or make laws to preempt any issues.
Jidoor (which sounds a lot like “j’adore,” or “I love” in French) still has a tier system. The middle class live in the south and the rich reside in the north. The biggest mansion of all belongs to a man named Owzer who will become important both a little and much later in the game.
The Jidoorians inform the crew Terra flew towards Zozo, which then becomes the next goal. They find her still in esper form at the top of the tallest tower like a princess being guarded by an “old man” calling himself Ramuh.
Ramuh tells them Terra is frightened by and fighting her nature before revealing himself to be an esper. He managed to escape from the Magitek Research Facility in Vector, unfortunately leaving many friends behind, and he reveals the horrors of it to the Returners. The implications of this are even more staggering, as the Empire is on track to repeat the War of the Magi where espers fought humans with power extracted from their brethren…just like Celes and Kefka. Essentially, humans stole the power of the espers who were rightfully pissed off. Talk about cultural appropriation.
Though Ramuh had his time in the “tubes,” he managed to live through it, and he informs the party that draining an esper of its powers doesn’t work. It’s only when they die and become Magicite is the process perfected. They have to either be slain or voluntarily die, and the esper begs the Returners to free his friends still imprisoned in Vector before sacrificing his life to become Magicite for their use in the attempt. This prompts one of Locke’s more poignant lines of, “Old man…are your really gone?” as he accepts the shard nonetheless along with three others. Terra remains in Zozo for now, as she is in no condition, physically or psychologically, to do much else.
The party has its work cut out for it though. The only way to reach Vector is by air and not even the king (or prince) of Figaro has access to a proper conveyance. They hope someone in Jidoor will be able to help them, so they return to the hoighty-toighty town where Owzer, the art collector, upon seeing Celes declares she’s the spitting image of Maria the opera singer. According to him, Maria has a fanatical admirer who would love to make her acquaintance and is not above a little kidnapping, but even more importantly, this individual has an airship, which is exactly what the crew needs to reach Vector.
Thus we are introduced to Setzer Gabbiani, FFVI’s silver-haired hottie with a scarred face. They’re never explained, leaving us all to speculate (and fanfic) about; however, it does lend more credence to the obvious Phantom of the Opera reference in the Maria/Celes kidnapping fiasco, because that’s the plan the players hatch: replace Maria with her lookalike in order to capture Setzer’s attention. Celes just has to be able to play the part of opera diva…
…which she does, brilliantly, though at no point does anyone ever ask her if she’s willing, but that’s an aspect I’ll tackle in the Story Analysis. The general has a gorgeous alto timbre, especially considering she’s probably never sung in public before, and everything is going according to plan until Ultros decides to become a land octopus and spoil the fun.
Wanting revenge against the party for his last trouncing, the wily cephalopod manages to drag a 4 ton weight up to the ceiling beams, but needs five minutes to push it off onto “Maria,” most certainly killing her and ruining the show. This gives Locke and company a limited amount of time to make it through the rat infested rafters to foil his plan. They make it but still end up falling onto the stage, knocking out everyone except Celes, and nearly giving the Impresario a heart attack. But undeterred conductor keeps conducting, the orchestra keeps orchestrating, and there’s a boss battle in the middle of the show.
After Ultros is once again dispatched, Setzer shows up right on time to spirit “Maria” away to his airship for a private meeting.
Setzer locks Celes in the engine room with the promise he’ll return later. Before he does, Locke et al show up through the gap, giving the gambler a nice surprise when he comes back. Initially, he rejects their request for help, saying the Empire has made him a rich man (the details not forthcoming), but then he agrees to help if Celes becomes his wife *massive eye roll* But (if the king is in the party) the canny general has Edgar flip his famous coin, calling heads for herself. If it lands top side up, Setzer will ferry them to Vector with no betrothal. Of course it lands on heads and even after the trick is revealed, the gambler is more impressed than angry he’s been deceived.
The imperial seat of Vector is a fortified city where even regular citizens boast magical powers. There is a woman in a shack who’ll heal the party if you refuse allegiance to the Empire, and a mother who is so proud Cid gave her son the ability to cure. In the cafe, one man blames the imperial takeover of Tzen, Maranda, and Albrook on the Returners, which is just typical propaganda. Tzen had a royal family that was literally murdered by the empire (talking to the people in the occupied town garners you this knowledge), but sure, blame the resistance for the actions of the fascists when resistance can only exist in the presence of oppression.
It’s in this same cafe the party can hear about Cid’s first experimental Magitek Knight: Kefka Palazzo. He was augmented before the process was perfected, and something went horribly wrong.
General Leo refused the infusion. Celes had no choice, as she was augmented as a baby, but she lucked out in that the ice in her veins didn’t nfect her sanity.
As expected Vector is hostile to the resistance faction, but the party is able to find a Returner sympathizer conveniently located near the entrance to the Magitek Research Facility. The old man distracts the guards long enough for them to sneak into the high tech factory of horror where magical beings are drained and then cast aside, and it is on a literal pile of refuse and bones that Shiva and Ifrit are found. They have just enough strength to fight the group until they realize the Returners have the power of Ramuh. Following the thunder god’s example, ice and fire commit themselves to the cause, transmuting into Magicite, giving over their magic on their own terms.
In the following room, the crew finds another horror show of tubes containing espers being drained of their life energy. As they pass by, the tortured beings understand the Returners’ desire to help, but like their companions before them, they choose to give up their lives to lend the rebellion a greater power. At the top of the room they find Cid del Norte Marquez (what a name) and his yellow raincoat.
At the sight of Celes, Cid, while overjoyed she’s still alive, asks if she came there as a spy seeking to cause an uprising, which (to me at least) seems like it’s on the side of the resistance, so I’m confused why Locke is so upset by this (possible translation issues?). Of course before Celes can explain, Kefka arrives to complicate matters (also Locke is an idiot…just because the villain asked her to do something, why the fuck do you think she would? Ugh, I’ll talk more about my evolving dislike for Locke in the Story Analysis section. Stay tuned…)
Celes literally stops the conversation in its tracks by spiriting both her and Kefka away, leaving Locke and co with Cid who leads them to a place where they can make their egress. On their way there, the head researcher promises to talk to Emperor Gestahl about what’s going on and how the war needs to be stopped because the best method for extracting Magicite kills Espers. Cid, who was essentially Celes’ adoptive father (which is some nice foreshadowing and juxtaposition for later) is not a “bad” person per se (he’s no Hojo of course), though he’s obviously done terrible things and is associated with an evil empire. It’s yet more support for Edgar’s statement about not all of the Empire’s citizens being evil (as well as exemplifying my constant claim about false dichotomies).
Before Kefka can return, Cid pushes the crew onto the transport cart through monster infested tunnels that nevertheless aid their exit. Unfortunately, once back to the airship, they’re forced to face two gigantic cranes aboard the Blackjack itself, taking them down in order to make their escape.
Back in Zozo Terra has finally awoken to not only full consciousness but also the shocking realization about her past: she was born in the Esper world.
Around eighteen years ago a woman named Madonna (or Madeline depending on the version/translation) wandered into the space between two worlds (which makes you wonder why the hell she was walking alone through that dangerous ass cave anyway). She’s found by Maduin, an Esper who lived for a time in the human world but grew tired of it.
Madonna claimed she fled the human world due to humanity’s greed and hatred, but agreed to return when Maduin told her Espers believe humans and them cannot coexist; however, the next day when she went to depart, Maduin, having fallen in love with her, follows Madonna to the gate and convinces her to stay. He gives her his pendant, which he says “protects the Esper world,” and is the same one Terra wears. I don’t want to say Maduin giving away his world’s protection to a human caused the ensuing tragedy, but *gestures at what happened next*
The two different worlds conceive a child whom they name Terra and for too brief a time they’re happy…until the Sealed Gate is opened by the Gestahlian Empire seeking to capture Espers for power. The Esper elder was willing to sacrifice his life to sweep the invaders out so all would be well again, but then another Esper accuses Madonna of leading the Empire there. Distraught, she grabs Terra and runs to the entrance. Maduin, of course, goes after them just as the elder’s spell takes affect, blowing Gestahl, and his troops out the gate. Maduin reaches his wife and child in time, and Madonna attempts to return with him when Terra is thrown out the door and of course her parents follow. Gestahl, taking what wins he can, strikes Madonna down (seemingly killing her) and steals her baby, while Maduin, too weakened to fight back, is one of several Espers imprisoned in the Magitek Research Facility for the next 18 years.
Back in Zozo, the Magicite that was Maduin resonates with his daughter, awakening her to the truth of her nature.
Aware of her own self and history, she is ready to join the party again and lead them to the Sealed Gate.
The cave is labyrinthine and fraught with traps and hazards, nor are the rebels cheerily greeted by the espers waiting there. Still in mourning for their captured companions they burst through, slaying many imperial operatives in their fury as they ransack Vector, the seat of their despair.
Upon returning to the imperial capital, the Returners find it in flames with a stunned populace and a seemingly chastened Gestahl. The emperor invites them to a banquet where they discover Kefka has been jailed for war crimes, and a silent Celes must accept whatever judgement they give. She’s unwilling or unable to talk to Locke about it, try as he might to crack her silent shell. Gestahl seeks the former rebels’ opinion on the esper attack, and during the banquet’s intermission (I know, weird right?) asks them to talk to as many of his men as possible as quite a few aren’t ready to give up the fight. Some need to be cowed in battle, while others are persuaded by words, but the more the Returners reach, the higher the reward. At the conclusion of the feast, Gestahl asks his former enemies to reach out to the espers and tell them they want peace to which the group readily agrees.
With the Generals Leo and Celes (the latter of whom is back in the party), they set sail for Crescent Island, an isolated continent containing the xenophobic village of Thamasa. There’s some weird stuff going on there, and the Returners seem to catch the villagers doing “witchy” things, but at the last minute they pass it off as nothing.
Here resides Strago Magus
and his granddaughter Relm Arrowny, an artist.
They’re both as sketchy as the rest of the town, despite Strago insisting he’s just a harmless old man.
The ruse holds until the middle of the night when a raging fire breaks out at the largest house in town, prompting Thamasa to give up its secrets: the villagers are the descendants of the Magi, humans who could use magic. After the War of the Magi, these people were hunted, persecuted, and killed. A handful of them escaped and founded the village of Thamasa, far from any other civilization. Their descendants can still use magic, though it’s weaker due to the dilution of the bloodlines.
The Thamasans attempt to put out the fire, but it’s too strong, and the party is forced to intervene. With his granddaughter trapped inside, Strago is obviously beside himself. The group rushes into the inferno, battling bombs until they reach and defeat the source right beside an unconscious Relm. Unfortunately, Terra, Locke, and Strago succumb to the fumes as the house begins to collapse, but Shadow and Interceptor rescue them all in the nick of time. The next morning when they’ve recovered, the old man joins the party to assist in locating the espers, while Shadow decides to search for them on his own. Strago knows the caves to the west are abundant in magical energy and the most likely place for them to go. Unbeknownst to them Relm follows, disobeying her grandfather’s orders to stay home and rest.
Within the cave system, the group discovers likenesses of the Warring Triad, the gods of magic and beings who created the espers. Their petrified remains dwell beyond the Sealed Gate, placed so that their powers are always balanced (this will become very important later). Everyone figures the espers who burst through came her to bask in something familiar, but before they can find them, the group is once again accosted by Ultros. There’s nothing else for it but to battle the wily cephalopod again. In the midst of it Relm makes her appearance, using her special talent to paint Ultros’ portrait, which smacks him in the face, but even more shows him what he really is: a silly octopus. He runs away in shame, and the group continues on to find Yura and ten more of his esper companions. Because of Terra’s heritage, Yura trusts them and agrees to return to Thamasa (the most neutral place for espers and humans seeing as it’s the home of humans with “natural” esper powers) and negotiate peace with General Leo.
Back in the city everything seems as though it’s finally resolving. The Empire has agreed to stop its war; the espers are apologetic about their rampage (which is honestly irritating since it was humanity who started the war by kidnapping and killing their people, so why are the victims apologizing?) There are even some laughs exchanged as things seems to be wrapping up.
Kefka shows up as per his and Gestahl’s plan that honest Leo wasn’t privy to. The price of his integrity is death, as the evil mage slaughters him before murdering the espers for Magicite. What looked to be the end of the horror is only the beginning.
Kefka and Gestahl return to the Sealed Gate and, with the power of the Warring Triad, raise the entire continent into the air.
It comes to rest over Albrook, darkening the city in its shadow, as the emperor makes plans to use the statues’ power to reign over the world. With Setzer’s Blackjack, the group moves to infiltrate, battling the Imperial Air Force over the island followed by a final altercation with Ultros and his even more monstrous friend, the two-faced yet ironically taciturn Mr. Chupon.
The battle ends with Chupon sneezing the party off where they land in a desolate maze filled with undead monsters. Once on the continent proper, the party finds Shadow whom the Empire tried to kill once he outlived his usefulness. Together they reach the summit where Kefka and Gestahl await.
Note: Chupon’s other name of Typhon could be a possible reference to typhus/typhoid, wihch makes sense since he has a perpetual and dangerous sneeze. It literally removes your characters from the battle. It could also be a reference to the Titan of Greek mythology with the same name who was also the father of dangerous winds i.e. Typhoons, which our pal Chupon creates with his fore mentioned sneezes.
It is here Celes finally has a chance to reconcile with her past by confronting Gestahl and Kefka. The latter gives her a sword, while the emperor offers her the chance to rule the world with him and Kefka if she kills her friends. The former general refuses and stabs Kefka instead. Enraged, the arch mage calls on the Warring Triad to give him their power despite Gestahl’s attempts to reason with him, but Kefka has always been beyond reason. The emperor realizes (way too late) that the evil clown needs to die, but the magic field in proximity to the statues absorbs his attack. Kefka calls on the Triad to strike Gestahl down, and though the old man attempts to run, eventually a lightning bolt hits and mortally wounds him. The arch mage finishes the job by pushing him to his death.
Then Kefka moves the statues, an act that will have astronomical consequences. Shadow, who’d recently left the party before they reached the summit, shows back up and tries to stop him, urging the rest to escape while they can. The continent begins to break apart as the party flees back to the Blackjack (where they should definitely wait for Shadow), jumping aboard the airship at the last minute, though even that cannot save them from what awaits.
The deranged clown’s actions change the world forever. Moving the statues and upsetting their delicate alignment cause a literally earth shattering cataclysm. The balance is broken and magic goes wild, sundering continents and causing upheavals. Land masses and oceans shift in formation, animals and plants are mutated, and countless people die. The World of Balance is turned into the World of Ruin, and even the Blackjack splits apart in the air, casting the entirety of the party to the four winds before everything goes black.
World of Ruin
Celes wakes up in a shack by the sea attended to by Cid. It’s been a year since the world collapsed, and he’s cared for her ever since. They live alone on a solitary island, relying on fish for subsistence. Celes insists on caring for him after she’s fully recovered. Calling him “grandpa,” she has him lay down, while she takes over the food foraging. If she catches good fish, the old man survives and encourages her to seek her friends. But if the fish are sickly, he soon succumbs, leaving her empty and alone. She loses all hope and in such despair throws herself into the sea, but the pitiless ocean just sends her back where she finds a bird on the sands. It’s wearing Locke’s bandanna on an old injury, and this is enough to rekindle her hope. She takes the scrap and finds the raft Cid left for her in the house, leaving the lonely island to fulfill has last wish for her.
Celes passes a monstrous tower as she travels the wastes, fighting monsters along the way. It’s not until she reaches the remains of Tzen that the horror of that monolith is realized. It’s now Kefka’s seat of power where he unleashes his Light of Judgment (because Light Is Not [Always] Good) however he sees fit. This Light strikes a house in Tzen, causing it to collapse with a child trapped inside, and it’s there Celes discovers Sabin using all of his strength to hold the structure up while she rushes to the rescue. After everything is settled, the former general finds the prince has lost none of his jocularity in the wake of apocalypse, and he readily joins her.
The two make their way to Nikeah, which is now only a walk from Tzen. This is only one of the many geographic changes. Cities that were once oceans apart are now barely separated, while once neighbors could occupy completely different continents. The world now consists of wastelands, burned forests, deserts, and polluted water, as the survivors struggle to grow crops in the defiled earth.
In Nikeah, Celes and Sabin discover a man who looks remarkably like the latter’s brother. He; however, insists he’s name is Gerad, and he has no idea who they are. Unconvinced, the pair follow him and his band of thieves, the Crimson Robbers, to South Figaro and the cave through a secret passage back to Figaro Castle. The structure became stuck underground during the disaster (which more than likely saved it from damage or destruction). It is not until they reach the engine room that Gerad reveals his true (and quite obvious) identity as the King of Figaro. He’d been masquerading as a thief because he’d heard the Crimson Robbers knew of a secret way to the castle. After they defeat the tentacled monster that disrupted the engine (not Ultros this time), Edgar, of course, rejoins the cause.
They use the castle to reach Kohlingen where Setzer sits bar side, drowning his sorrows in ale. The Blackjack was destroyed when the world ripped apart, and what is a gambler without his flying casino? Even this late in the game, there’s still room for story, and we find out Setzer, like so many others, had a lost love: another airship pilot named Darill.
Once they raced to find out whose ship was the fastest, and though Setzer won, they both really lost. When he found the wreckage of her Falcon, he rebuilt the ship and laid it to rest beneath Darill’s tomb.
While no one likes to rob the dead, the group convinces him that desperate times call for desperate measures, and as the Blackjack has been destroyed, the Falcon is sorely needed if they want to stand a chance at taking down Kefka. Encouraged by the return of his friends, Setzer brings them to Darill’s Tomb to raise (at least) her airship from the grave.
With a conveyance at Setzer’s command again, the ruined world opens up for the survivors. They find Terra in Light blasted Mobliz, where every adult died from the attack. She now serves as surrogate mother for all the subsequent orphans, included pregnant and sixteen year old Katarin. In the aftermath of the cataclysm, numerous monsters and demons were unleashed, one being Phunbaba, which terrorizes what remains of the town. Unfortunately, Terra’s will and therefore ability to fight has vanished, and were it not for the timely arrival of the group, the demon would’ve slaughtered her and the children all. She insists she will only be a burden to them, and her friends can only sadly wish her well as they continue their search for the others. Later, though, upon returning to the remains of the town, the monster appears again, using a breath attack to blow people away. Terra joins the battle in esper form, finally bringing the demon’s reign to an end.
Note: Phunbaba’s alternative name is Humbaba who’s associated with the astrological sign Leo, per this fun and informative video here. I was going to say more about this in the analysis, but I think I could do at least one whole essay on the etymology of FFVI’s monsters, and tbh it’s already been done on numerous wikis, so this is what you get. The video goes into more detail than the brief wiki entry on etymology so you can thank me later.
After this, she realizes she cannot sit idly by while the world needs her, and she can best serve her charges by helping to set things right. Though the children are startled by her esper appearance, they still recognize her as “mama.” She entrusts the care of the younger ones to Duane and Katarin, rejoining her friends in their quest.
At the top of Mt. Zozo, they find Cyan who has been sending letters and silk flowers to Lola, the girlfriend of the sick soldier in Mobliz (when it was) on the Veldt. Sadly, he died of his wounds, but Cyan, in pity for her plight (or perhaps thinking of his own loses) corresponds in his stead. When the party reconnects with their companion, he rejoins them, ceasing communication between Lola and himself; however, if the party visits Maranda, the old knight will deliver a final letter along with the truth of her lover’s fate.
Gau has returned the Veldt to continue his wild life there, but he readily rejoins the party. Now, I personally don’t remember this part, but apparently Sabin decides the boy should meet the father who threw him out(??) Maybe that was in a later iteration of the game or it was something that happened if you locate the guy again with Gau in the party, but I never did, because I’m certain I’d remember a Gau makeover scene where Sabin takes him to Jidoor to dress him up. It sounds kinda par for the course for a Final Fantasy though, so I don’t know why I’m acting surprised. When Gau meets his father, the old man doesn’t recognize him, though he mentions having a “dream” of throwing away a supposed demon child into the Veldt. He compliments Gau’s “parents” for raising such a nice young man. When Sabin threatens to beat him up for being a complete dickhead, Gau just insists he’s happy his father is in his life. I guess this was FFVI’s “worst father” archetype because fuck that guy. In my head canon (which is the only canon that matters) Sabin and Cyan are Gau’s dads now.
It’s not like Cyan is a stranger to fatherhood, as the entirety of his personal trauma centers around his lost family and kingdom. As the sole survivor(?) of Doma, the knight must have to contend with survivor’s guilt, which is surely compounded by the fact he was supposed to be both patriarchal protector and loyal retainer. Even as he cautions the fore mentioned Lola to let go of the past, Cyan still has his own literal demons to fight before he can do the same. If the party stays in Doma castle, the old knight will be attacked by the Dream Stooges who feed off his soul through nightmares. Even defeating them doesn’t dispel the dark dream, and it isn’t until his friends find Doma Castle within the dreamscape that they come across Elayne and Owain, Cyan’s wife and son whom he saw taken away by the Phantom Train. They tell him a being called Wrexsoul (literally “wrecks the soul”) has latched onto their beloved husband and father due to the torment of guilt. Confronting and defeating Wrexsoul in the castle’s throne room frees an imprisoned Cyan who says he heard the voices of his family telling him to live, but when they manifest, he still rejects their praise and forgiveness, believing himself still culpable for Doma. They reassure him he still has his honor before they depart, leaving the holy sword Masamune behind and proving he never had need to doubt his worth.
Relm has been doing pretty well for herself in Jidoor. So few of us actually get to make a living from our creative talents in the real world let alone a ruined one (though I supposed the “ruined” is debatable). She’s been hired by Owzer, the wealthy art collector, to help him remove the demon Chadarnook from a prized gallery piece. When the party shows up, they help her vanquish it. Afterwards the young artist rejoins the group. She’s necessary in the reclamation of Strago who’s become a member of the Cult of Kefka. I always though he’d been brainwashed, but the FF Wiki says he joined of his own volition in order to mourn his granddaughter’s death, which I guess makes sense in a grief turned to madness motif. Relm snaps him out of it with a few sharp words, and the old man regains his sense and joins the party again.
Now we get to Locke Cole who’s been spending his time in the wasted world looking for the Phoenix esper, which is rumored to revive the dead. He’s still obsessed with his dead ex, remember? The one he paid an old guy to keep in suspended animation because he couldn’t let go? Yeah…that situation. Anyway, the party finds him in the Phoenix Cave, and after the esper is collected they go back to Kollinghen where Rachel still waits. The Phoenix revives her long enough for his lost love to tell Locke to move on with his life. She then truly passes on, which restores the Phoenix itself (aka you can now use it as Magicite), and Locke, finally satisfied, settles for Celes as a silver medal.
If the crew waited for Shadow on the Floating Continent a year ago, he’s found wounded in the cave on the Veldt, and they take him to Thamasa to heal (which is of course a big clue about his origin/backstory). After Shadow recovers, he heads to the Coliseum, which was mentioned in passing by a random NPC before the world became unhinged. Apparently the proprietor was able to build it in the midst of cataclysm, and our elusive friend goes there in search of a legendary dagger. If the party wants to recruit him back to their cause, they must find and wager said dagger and defeat him in battle.
The once neutral town of Narshe has been overtaken by monsters. Most of the townspeople have fled or been killed and almost all of the doors are locked. If Locke is in the party, he can pick them, so I guess he does have a use after all. Mog, who appears to be the last remaining moogle, has returned to the caves in the mines. When he’s found, he tells the party to look for Umaro, whom he claims would be helpless without him. Turns out Umaro is a gigantic yeti who wants to battle, after which Mog bullies him into joining the party. The yeti is just one of two optional characters that can be obtained in the WoR, the second being Gogo who lives in the belly of a Zone Eater on Triangle Island.
Instead of flesh and innards, the inside of a Zone Eater consists of geography, and Gogo can be found in one of the “rooms.” They join the party presumably out of nothing else to do, and with that there are 14 characters and an evil tower complete with clown to defeat.
With the band back together (plus two additional members), they head to Kefka’s Tower, which can only be entered by airship. According to the Wiki (which has been invaluable in this summary), the confrontation with the arch mage turned deity occurs at the top, which…seems weird since they land at the top (or I’m assuming they do since the tower is only accessible by airship), but still have a lot of tower to go through. Ah well. Maybe there’s some Time Lord/Tardis technology involved. It’s not all that important.
Upon first entry, the party rightly questions the fate of magic, espers, and Terra herself once all is said and done. If they succeed in their quest to destroy the corrupted Warring Triad, all magic will vanish from the world, since the trio of deities is the source. Even though this creates a literal existential crisis for Terra, the young woman is determined to see it through regardless the personal cost.
When they confront Kefka at the summit, he declares that all life is meaningless (…) and expresses his desire to continue destroying the world until humans have no more hopes and dreams. The party then battles the Triad before Kefka himself.
Upon his defeat the tower begins to crumble, and Terra transforms into her esper form, all while that half of her is fading, to lead the party out. As they flee the destruction, the Magicite shards vanish as magic itself dies. Before Maduin crumbles into nonexistence, he tells his daughter that she can survive if her human side has a strong emotional attachment to the world. Thus Terra is able to live due to her love for the orphans of Mobliz. The only one left behind is Shadow to whom redemption equals death, but the rest escape in one of the most glorious endings ever; watching the people of the world as they begin to rebuild.
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