- This article is about the lore behind the Dragonsong War. For the questline, see Dragonsong War Quests.
We will rise above the ashes of our dark past and rebuild our nation upon a foundation of truth and equality.
— Ser Aymeric
The Dragonsong War is the period of Ishgardian history in which the brood of Nidhogg was at war with the city-state. It is the main story focus during the Heavensward expansion.
Over 1200 years ago, in the opening centuries of the Sixth Astral Era, following the Calamity of Ice, Elezen settlers came to Coerthas and began building their mountainside sanctuary to Halone and building small villages in the surrounding area. However, the land was already home to the Dragons, who had been there for thousands of years before. Both sides took part in a war over the right to lay claim to the land that may have never ended if it were not for an Elezen woman named Shiva. Instead of taking part in the war, she sought to make peace with the dragons and share the land. In doing this, she discovered that the dragons were not violent, impulsive monsters, but were in fact possessed of "profound intelligence and reason".
After spending time with the dragons, she grew to fall in love with one in particular, Hraesvelgr, despite her people calling him a monster. The dragon found in Shiva a beloved soulmate but was tortured by the thought of losing her one day, as compared to a dragon, the lifespan of an Elezen is but the blink of an eye. Unable to bear the thought of being without her beloved, Shiva bade Hraesvelgr to consume her and her Aether, so their souls may be bound for eternity. Though he was loathe to do it, he eventually gave in to her last desire. The story of their love soon made their way to the warfront, heard by both sides. From then on, neither side could raise arms against the other after hearing how their people’s souls were bound together. This brought an end to the war that had been waged for over ten years and the Elezens bestowed the title of 'Saint' upon Shiva for her sacrifice. For two centuries afterwards, the Elezen and Dragons lived in peace, forging a nation unlike any other in the world. Only Nidhogg, one of the First Brood of Midgardsormr, remained unconvinced that there could be no peace between them, given what had happened to Bahamut.
Unfortunately, Nidhogg would be proven right as things would change irrevocably because of the greed of the Elezen. King Thordan I coveted the power of the Dragons and consorted with the Ascians to learn this truth of their power: Their near-limitless vitality and power rests in their eyes. He called upon the Dragon Ratatoskr, sister of Hraesvelgr and Nidhogg, to speak with him on behalf of the Dragons. She made it clear that the Dragons sought only peace with the Elezens, however did admit to Nidhogg having doubts. King Thordan then took his twelve knights, one of whom was his own son Haldrath, and led Ratatoskr to an ambush, where they slayed her and took her eyes for their own and consumed them "in the manner of beasts". Thordan and his knights gained astronomical power, far beyond the scope of their kin.
Nidhogg was the first to learn of the betrayal of the king and his men, and in a bloody rage slayed Thordan and over half of his knights. However, with their newfound power, the surviving knights were able to bring the dread wyrm low and take his eyes, causing Nidhogg to retreat. While removing a Dragon's eyes would kill them, Nidhogg managed to make it to their home in Zenith to tell Hraesvelgr of what had happened. Nidhogg blamed his brother for the death of Ratatoskr by allowing the Elezen the chance to live on their lands and gave them the opportunity to take her eyes. Praying on Hraesvelgr's feelings of remorse, Nidhogg convinced him to turn over one of his eyes, so he may seek vengeance. Nidhogg then turned and sent his own children to attack the city, marking the beginning of the thousand-year long Dragonsong War.
Meanwhile, the surviving knights, led by Haldrath, returned to Ishgard. But unlike his father, Haldrath felt grave remorse for what they had taken part in. He renounced the throne and his Father's name and left to seek atonement for his sins. Other knights followed in his example and renounced Thordan and his legacy. After all was said and done, only four knights remained. These would be the knights that would form the great houses of Ishgard and join with the clergy to establish the new government and rule Ishgard. From this union would come the crafted and rewritten history to erase the atrocities Thordan and his knights had committed, instead painting them in a noble light as the heroes who defended the land from the scourge of Nidhogg.
The Lies of the Holy See
In an effort to unite their people against the Horde, the Church of the Holy See rewrote history as they saw fit to paint King Thordan and his twelve knights as the heroes who rose up to defend their kingdom and give it a chance at life.
According to the scriptures they wrote, almost one thousand years ago, the Elezen king was blessed by Halone with a vision of a holy land for his people. He led his people to the very heart of Abalathia's Spine with their few possessions to where their Promised Land was foretold to be.
Upon arriving, however, the great wyrm Nidhogg stood before them and attacked with an evil fury. Thordan and his twelve knights, one of which was his own son, rose up against the Dragon in combat. During this week-long battle, King Thordan gave his life in the fight and was cast into a ravine. His son rose up and finally managed to defeat Nidhogg, taking one of his eyes as a trophy and sending the wyrm fleeing.
Though they survived the fight, Nidhogg managed to kill more than half of the twelve knights. The people looked to Haldrath to lead them, however he rejected his father's crown, instead donning the helm of the Azure Dragoon and swearing vengeance on Dragonkind. The eye of Nidhogg was buried with him when he passed. Some of the remaining knights followed in his lead, leaving four remaining knights who would go on to found the four families of Ishgard and form the Ishgardian Orthodox Church, governing the people of Ishgard for centuries to come.
This retelling of the past would both cement the belief that the people of Ishgard were dying for their homeland and fighting the good fight, while also creating a social system of injustice that would push the lowborn of the city-state into the arms of the enemy, serving to further strengthen the ranks and numbers of Nidhogg's brood.
The Thousand-Year War
Because all people from Ishgard are descendant from the original twelve knights, they all possess a glimmer of Ratatoskr's essence in them, which can be awoken by a sip of Dragon blood. Hraesvelgr observed this, seeing Nidhogg offer repentance to the people who stood against the Church and rewarding them with his blood, which would cause them to be reborn as dragons of Nidhogg's brood. Nidhogg spends the better part of 1000 years assaulting Ishgard and growing his army, leading the hordes against her people.
The Holy See used the power of twenty-four dragon eyes to erect Daniffen's Collar, a giant arcane ward to defend from the dread wyrm's constant onslaught. Despite seeming to be constantly under attack, there are several periods where Nidhogg actually leaves the battlefield to rest after assaulting the city and surrounding settlements. When he enters this period of rest, a ceasefire of sorts takes place. However, for the Ishgardians, there is no rest or peace during these times, as they remain on constant vigilance for the continuation of the Horde's attack. The Horde could have destroyed the city-state at any point, however they never took the steps to end the war, as Nidhogg wanted to cause the descendants of the twelve knights to suffer the way he has.
Over the course of a millennia, the Azure Dragoon, an appointed position for great feats of heroism, has used the Eye of Nidhogg to fight off the advances of the Horde. While the right eye was buried with Haldrath, the left is handed down to the next Dragoon to defend the city. However, using the Eye renders the holder more susceptible to the influence of Nidhogg. This is believed to have led to the early death of Haldrath. The Azure Dragoons would often lead the charge against Nidhogg, however more often than not it led to their untimely demise.
During the Battle of Ferndale, the Azure Dragoon Alberic Bale held the Horde off for three days. However, weary and weak, he was worried he might fall under Nidhogg's influence. He had no choice but to surrender both the title of Azure Dragoon and the Eye. In doing so, he was no longer able to stop the Horde from razing the city to the ground. Alberic trained the only survivor, Estinien Wyrmblood to become the next Azure Dragoon and how to wield the power of the Eye. Following this, Nidhogg returned to sleep, leaving the Horde under the leadership of Midgardsormr, who led the Horde against the Garlean Empire during their attack against Eorzea in 1562 of the 6th Astral Era in the Battle of Silvertear Skies. Even though Midgardsormr fell in this battle, the Horde resumes its assault on Ishgard, causing the city-state to withdraw from the Eorzean Alliance
Following the Battle of Carteneau and five years after the Seventh Umbral Calamity, Nidhogg reawakens to continue his assault to find Coerthas a frozen wasteland and the Ishgardians struggling to survive. Estinien fled the city carrying the Eye in the hopes of drawing Nidhogg's attention to himself. He meets up with the Warrior of Light and they plan to team up against Nidhogg, however Estinien gets taken over by the wrath of Nidhogg and turns on the warrior. After a brief battle, Estinien flees.
During this time, heretic factions that side with the Dragons begin to gain power. One notable faction is the Harriers, led by Ysayle Dangoulain or "Lady Iceheart". The Harriers begin attacking trading carriages and caravans and stealing Crystals to summon Shiva in the body of Ysayle to aid in the attack of Ishgard. The Warrior of Light defeats Shiva at the Akh Afah Amphitheatre. After her defeat, she condemns the Warrior and calls them blind "like those fools in Ishgard". She bade the Warrior to seek out the Keeper of the Lake and not to squander the Echo before teleporting away.
From the wreckage on Lake Silvertear, the Warrior is sent to investigate "The Chorus" of Dragonsong caused by Nidhogg awakening. The Warrior witnesses Midgardsormr arising once again to join in the chorus. The Dragon attacks the Warrior of Light. Upon being defeated, He tells the warrior that he has arisen to answer the call of one of his children to continue to wage his war. Upon learning that the Warrior is Hydaelyn's chosen hero, He extinguishes the Blessing of Light and binds himself to the warrior to see if they can truly earn the right to call themselves a Warrior of Light.
With Nidhogg's Dragonsong calling for an attack on Ishgard, the attack is met with opposition from the Alliance. However, Ysayle and the Harrier's managed to destroy one of the wards of Daniffen’s Collar, allowing for Vishap to destroy the remaining wards on The Steps of Faith and continue the assault. Although the dragon is defeated by the Warrior of Light and the Alliance, Ishgard's last defense against the Horde has been destroyed.
The Warrior of Light seeks out Ysayle to act as an intermediary with Nidhogg to cease his bloody rampage against the city. She finds the Warrior and Midgardsormr in the Coerthas Western Highlands. The dragon tells her that their goal is the same, to end the war and bring peace between the Dragons and the people of Ishgard once again. Ysayle admits that she regrets the loss of life at The Steps of Faith and wishes to end the senseless conflict with the Dragons, so no child suffers the way she did when she was a child. She then takes her leave.
In an attempt to bring the end to the Dragonsong War without suffering anymore bloodshed, ser Aymeric de Borel sends The Warrior, Alphinaud Leveilleur and Estinien in secret to seek out a way to end things peacefully with the Dragons. The group realize they need help in figuring out how to do this and realize the best way may be to entreat Ysayle. They make their way through Coerthas and eventually find her. Upon hearing their plan, she tells them the story of Shiva and Hraesvelgr 1200 years ago. She notes that Nidhogg will not listen to reason, that he was long ago lost to reason. Alphinaud suggests the party entreat instead with Hraesvelgr, and Ysayle agreed to act as their guide. They headed for Dravania, where they met with Vidofnir, who promised to open the way to Sohm Al, where Hraesvelgr makes his home, provided they prove themselves. The party manages to make peace with the dragons by defeating the Primal of the Gnath, Ravana. Vidofnir opens the way to Sohm Al and the party proceeds. However, in climbing the mountain, they encounter Tioman, Nidhogg's consort, and must defeat her to reach the peak.
Coming to Zenith at the top of Sohm Al, they party meet with Hraesvelgr, who is enraged to see the children of man invading his sacred home. Ysayle claimed to him to be the reincarnation of Shiva, his lost love. This further enraged the Dragon, who said that she was not Shiva, but a dark shade conjured as a deity from myth and legend. The party tried to convince him to join their cause in calling for peace, but Hraesvelgr refused, recounting the truth of what really happened between the Elezens and Ratatoskr 1200 years ago. Realizing the futility of trying to end things peacefully, they set out to find other methods to handle the impending attack from Nidhogg.
The group came to the realization that if Ishgard was to be saved, then Nidhogg would need to be slain. Ysayle, with her faith in "Shiva" shattered, left the party, who made their way to Nidhogg's lair in The Aery. However, he had surrounded his home with a barrier of winds upon sensing the death of his consort. Alphinaud recalled that the barrier of Garuda seemed to be made similarly of winds like this and thought to consort with Cid nan Garlond to find a way to get past the barrier. Estinien stayed behind to keep an eye on the Aery.
Once the Manacutters were built and ready to be used, they headed to tell Aymeric of what had transpired and their plan to slay Nidhogg. While he volunteered his blade to their cause, Estinien insisted he stay behind to safeguard the city should they fail. And so, the Warrior of Light and the Azure Dragoon set off to the Aery to slay the Dragon once and for all.
While Nidhogg was more than a match for any mortal, Estinien was able to employ the power of the Eye to weaken the dragon enough that they were able to deliver a fatal blow. Estinien gouged out the eye that Hraesvelgr had bequeathed to the dragon 1200 years ago, and the dragon was slain, falling to its doom below the clouds. Upon seeing the eye, the Warrior of Light was granted another vision by the Echo, seeing the truth behind Hraesvelgr's words and the gifting of his eye.
Ending the War
Upon returning and recounting the truth of the origins of the Dragonsong War, Aymeric realized the truth could no longer remain hidden. If the truth were to leak out another way, the people would turn on one another, highborn against lowborn, now aware of their common ancestry, and the only way anything could change is by striving for change and uniting the people together with this goal. He left to confront Archbishop Thordan VII on his own with these truths, despite the cries of his companions warning him against such action. Lucia Junius, Aymeric's second in command, vowed to support her commander, saying that if he does not return from the Holy Vault, She would free him herself. The Warrior of Light agreed to help her should the time come.
Eventually, the time did come when the party learned of Aymeric being imprisoned and planned their assault on The Vault. Lucia and Lord Haurchefant led a party to free Aymeric from the Vault gaol, the Warrior of Light faced against the Heavens' Ward to confront Thordan. However, the knights showed considerable powers beyond mortals. Thordan managed to escape after one of his knights fired a bolt of pure light at the Warrior, only to be blocked and ultimately taken by Haurchefant, who died at the top of the Vault. The party realized that the archbishop and the knights must have used their bodies to channel the souls of Thordan I and his original twelve knights, much the way Ysayle did with Shiva. Aymeric realizes that they must have headed to Azys Lla, and they must be stopped at all costs.
The Warrior of Light and party eventually discover the location of Azys Lla and a means to pierce its defenses, they were quickly beset upon by a massive Garlean warship meant to be the successor to the Agrius at Silvertear fifteen years ago. The war vessel opened fire on the group, and just as things looked their bleakest, the party was saved by Hraesvelgr and Ysayle, who sought to atone for the countless lives she had taken during the war. Sacrificing herself in order to incapacitate the ship so the Warrior of Light could pass to get to Thordan. However, unable to destroy the ship entirely, it took aim at the drained Shiva and opened fire, blowing her from the sky.
Finally entering the Aetherochemical Research Facility, the Warrior of Light came up against two Ascians: Lahabrea and Igeyorhm. They attacked the Warrior as one in a desperate bid to destroy them, however they were themselves defeated. Igeyorhm attempted to escape, however the Warrior trapped her in a piece of White Auracite and destroyed her using the power of Nidhogg's Eye. By this point, Thordan and his knights appeared, with the souls of Thordan I and his Knights Twelve summoned into themselves, carrying the Eye that was buried with Haldrath, and used it to summon a divine blade and execute Lahabrea, then consumed his soul to power his Primal form.
Having nourished himself, he then turned to the Warrior of Light and offered them an ultimatum: Stand aside or be stricken down. The Warrior engaged the king in combat, and by some miracle, managed to defeat Thordan and his legendary knights. Once the king was defeated, Estinien made to collect the second Eye of Nidhogg. However, upon picking up the Eye, he immediately fell under Nidhogg's will and became a vessel for the dragon's shade. The dragon spoke through Estinien, vowing revenge and disappearing.
The Final Chorus
In the days that followed, Aymeric assumed the role of Archbishop until they could find a replacement for him and shared the truth of the Dragonsong War with the people of Ishgard. Their faith shaken to the core, the people felt lost, now knowing the thing they fought and died for and had believed for so long was a lie. Aymeric held a peace conference at Falcon's Nest to help build the bridge over the gap between man and Dragon and bring the people together. However, the conference was cut short by the appearance of Nidhogg in the guise of Estinien. He wounded Vidofnir and warned the people of Ishgard that the Final Chorus of the war was nigh.
The Warrior of Light could not hope to face Nidhogg now that he had returned to full power. Aymeric suggests that they entreat with Hraesvelgr. The party agrees and make for Sohm Al. Hraesvelgr agrees to fight alongside the Ishgardians, but only after testing them. He engages the Warrior of Light in combat, and upon his defeat, swears to fight against his brother. Just as the pact was made, a thunderous roar echoed out. It was Nidhogg, signalling the final advance on Ishgard. Riding back to the city on Hraesvelgr, the Warrior of Light prepared for battle.
Hraesvelgr tried to persuade his brother one final time to cease his war, to which Nidhogg simply laughed. The two met on The Steps of Faith in a vicious struggle, their writhing bodies nearly destroying the bridge. When the dust had settled, Nidhogg had Hraesvelgr pinned to the ground. In a surprising move, Hraesvelgr blessed the Warrior with the power of his Eye. The Warrior stood before Nidhogg once again, ready to do battle.
The two met in a fearsome clash on the bridge, but in the end the Warrior of Light stood as the victor. The dragon was weakened and tried to make Estinien slay his companion. However, Estinien was able to use his will to resist, entreating the Warrior to slay him. The warrior refused, instead trying to pull the dragons Eyes from Estinien's body. Joined by Alphinaud, they managed to wrench the eyes from his armor and cast them over the side of the bridge into the depths of the clouds below. Seeing their brood-father defeated, the dragons fled to return to their land. With this, Estinien was saved, and the Dragonsong War had finally come to a close.
With the war ended, Aymeric set about undoing the rule of the archbishop, building the way for a republic of the people. The newly formed House of Commons and House of Lords took over the governance of the city, and all members would be elected. Aymeric became the elected member at the highest seat of the House of Lords. The people desired fair representation, and they could think of no one better.
Vidofnir was made one of the ambassadors of Dragonkind. Riding upon his back, Aymeric was cheered on by the people who hailed him as the Azure Dragoon of a new age.
- ↑ Cutscene Dialogue from Main Scenario (Heavensward) Quest "Purple Flame, Purple Flame," Cutscene #2: ICEHEART: "'Twas more than a millennium past when an Elezen tribe first sought to claim the lands of Coerthas as its home. Unfortunately for them, Coerthas was already home to dragonkind, and they were not inclined to make way for the invaders. Thus did a bloody war begin─a war which might well have rumbled on until one or the other side was exterminated, had it not been for the resolve of a single woman. That woman's name was “Shiva.” While those around her fought and died, she attempted to parley with the dragons, and in so doing discovered them to be possessed of profound intelligence and reason."
- ↑ Cutscene Dialogue from Main Scenario (Heavensward) Quest "Purple Flame, Purple Flame," Cutscene #2: ICEHEART: The great wyrm Hraesvelgr in particular so enchanted Shiva that she found herself growing to love the creature, whom her people considered a monster. In the eyes of a near-immortal dragon, however, the fleeting life of an Elezen is as that of a freshly cut rose─scarce has the flower bloomed before it begins to fade and wither. Such melancholy musings plagued Hraesvelgr, who had found in Shiva an unexpected and beloved soulmate. He knew that all too soon, death would snatch her away from him.
- ↑ Cutscene Dialogue from Main Scenario (Heavensward) Quest "Purple Flame, Purple Flame," Cutscene #2: ICEHEART: Unable to bear the thought of their separation, the maid bid the wyrm consume her, that their spirits might be entwined for eternity. ...Though loath to perform the deed, Hraesvelgr ultimately gave in to her plea, and soon thereafter, the tale of their ill-fated love spread throughout the two warring factions. No more could they raise blade or claw against one another, knowing that the souls of their kin were so inextricably bound.
- ↑ Cutscene Dialogue from Main Scenario (Heavensward) Quest "Purple Flame, Purple Flame," Cutscene #2: ICEHEART: In the days that followed, man and dragon learned to live in harmony, and together built a nation unlike any the world had ever known. For two hundred years did this blissful age of peace continue, as it would to this day, had vilest envy not stirred in the hearts of the Elezen.