Since the dawn of eternity, four lights of hope have shone upon the world. Men flock to these lights, around which they build four peristylia. Each peristylium becomes their faith and society, the path upon which they are set.
A Crystal is located in each peristylium of Orience in Final Fantasy Type-0 and Final Fantasy Agito. They bestow each nation with a blessing and power to its citizens, representative of mankind's pursuits. Said to have been found long ago within their respective regions, they act as a means of political power, allowing their people to rule over their lands with a means of protection from invasion, and to inspire hope.
The four Crystals of Orience allude to the elemental crystals from the early Final Fantasy games. This continues a concept of the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy series where the series's core elements are re-imagined. In the early Final Fantasy games being made a Warrior of Light by a crystal was shown in heroic light, but in the Fabula Nova Crystallis series the equivalent fate of a l'Cie reflects a more sinister state, calling the person's free will into question.
The Crystals of Orience are sentient, and their Will is often expressed through a l'Cie of its choosing who are said to be unable to oppose the Will of the Crystals. The people of Orience revere the Crystals for their power, and in return the Crystals erase the personal memories associated with those who die among those who knew them. The Crystals are said to will for an equilibrium in the world, but their true purpose seems to be to compete over birthing Agito, culminating in the wars that ravage Orience.
The Crystals' power is in danger of waning should their powers be exploited beyond their capacity and threshold of allowed blessings. This forced Oriencians to halt their use and led to the declaration of the Pax Codex after the Great Orience War, which forbids the use of l'Cie in war. In an interview in Final Fantasy Type-0 Kōshiki Settei Shiryōshū Aku no Hishi, Director Hajime Tabata clarified the Crystals cannot break, as even if shattered they would heal, and thus Crystals are unaffected by the spiral.
Among all nations, Crystals brand individuals as l'Cie, giving them a task known as a Focus to achieve. l'Cie are given special powers and immortality, but at the risk of the expenditure of memories, spirit, and identity. The l'Cie's Foci vary, but they exist to exert the Will of their Crystal. The peristylia built to house the Crystals also work to actualize the Crystal's Will, namely, to birth Agito. The Crystals punish those who disobey their Will by turning defiant l'Cie into Cie'th. The Blue Dragon Crystal—which is said to have disappeared from Orience—is also said to have cursed its followers by turning them into monsters reminiscent of the Cie'th: Dracobaltians.
Hajime Tabata has said the Crystals have a limited Will of their own (separate from Arecia Al-Rashia's, although they strive toward a goal set by her) and, in terms of the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology, are equivalent to the fal'Cie of Final Fantasy XIII (and were initially referred to as such).
The four CrystalsEdit
Vermilion Bird CrystalEdit
The Vermilion Bird Crystal is kept by the Dominion of Rubrum. The Crystal bestows the Power of Magic, allowing the people of Rubrum to use spells and powers that bend nature's phenomena to their will. Akademeia refines the use of magic through academics and training of individuals skilled or potent in magic use. The Crystal is of the classical shape seen throughout the series, and glows red. Those whom it wishes to brand as its l'Cie can hear it speak in a female voice.
White Tiger CrystalEdit
The White Tiger Crystal is kept by Milites Empire. It bestows the Power of Weapons, allowing people to interact with it freely through crafting arsenals and technology using its energy via C-Engines. The White Peristylium researches the Crystal's properties, having derived magitek armor and all sorts of innovations for its use. Its appearance is that of a six pointed cross and it glows teal-white. Machina Kunagiri reports the Crystal's voice as similar to that of Cid Aulstyne.
Azure Dragon CrystalEdit
The Azure Dragon Crystal is kept by the Kingdom of Concordia. The Crystal bestows the Power of the Dragon, allowing its people to communicate and interact with monsters peacefully. The dragons that inhabit the kingdom are said to be a manifestation of the Crystal, and those who can speak with dragons thus are in-tune with its Will. Its shape takes on that of a clear, rough orb of subtle blue.
Black Tortoise CrystalEdit
The Black Tortoise Crystal is kept by the Lorican Alliance. It bestows the Power of the Shield, allowing its people to draw on its power to grant them strength and robustness profoundly greater than that of other realms'. Its shape is that of a verdant green heart.
Blue Dragon CrystalEdit
The Blue Dragon Crystal was one of the original four Crystals of Orience. It gave its power to the citizens of the Kingdom of Dracobaltia in the east, and bestowed them the ability to communicate with monsters. When the Dracobaltians pleaded for more power after having failed to expand their domain to the Vermilion Bird Crystal's territories, the Blue Dragon gave them the power to command wyverns. The Dracobaltians consumed the dragons for food during shortages and the power of the Blue Dragon Crystal waned, throwing off the balance between the Crystals. According to legend, the Azure Dragon Crystal appeared to replace the Blue Dragon, and the Dracobaltians were turned into monsters and banished to the Cursemire of Naraku for an eternity for their heresy, the Blue Dragon Crystal vanishing from Orience.
The mysterious Rursus Crystal is of different origin than the other Crystals, and is known to be active only during Tempus Finis, the end of the world. It creates the Rursan Reavers and chooses the Rursan Arbiter, the Judge said to decide on the fate of Orience. Where the Crystal is located is unknown, but it is assumed to be somewhere within Pandæmonium.
History of OrienceEdit
The four Crystals of Orience were created by Arecia Al-Rashia, a "fal'Cie" of the god Pulse. Due to her allegiance the l'Cie branded by the Crystals bear the Pulse l'Cie brand. The world of Orience is an experiment to find Etro's gate, the gateway to afterlife, and to find it, the deities use the souls of humans, as supposedly only expiring souls on their way to "the other side" can pass through.
As part of her experiment Arecia plans to cultivate an Agito, a prime soul that would open Etro's gate fully so even those bound to the mortal realm could find it. The legend of Agito becomes known among the populace as a messiah who appears during Tempus Finis, the end of the world. Tempus Finis begins when one Crystal controls all of Orience, and thus the Crystals vie for power across the land.
The Crystals brand l'Cie to express their Will in the world. Although many of the l'Cie's Foci are unknown, it appears each Crystal wants the Agito to be born of the people of its nation, and thus tries to initiate Tempus Finis by having their Crystal-Nation take over Orience. Once Tempus Finis starts a sanctuary rises from the ocean and its Judge will make the Final Decision: if none of the aspirants who brave its rials is fit to become Agito, Orience will be destroyed and reborn, the spiral started anew in wait for another Tempus Finis. The Rursus Crystal appears active during this time, assumed to be the creation of Gala, a fal'Cie of Lindzei's, rather than Arecia.
The Crystals were discovered by the Oriencians, and proceeded to brand l'Cie with tasks of building the peristylia and the nations centered around them to propagate the Will of each Crystal: The Vermilion Bird Crystal in the south and its Dominion of Rubrum, the Black Tortoise Crystal in the north and its Lorican Alliance, the White Tiger Crystal in the west and its Milites Empire, and the Blue Dragon Crystal in the east and its Kingdom of Dracobaltia. Each lent its people its power that sparked many wars, especially between Milites and Lorica, that grappled for power ever since each nation's formation. The power of the Blue Dragon Crystal waned after the Dracobaltians consumed its offerings for food, and the Azure Dragon Crystal appeared to replace it. The new Azure Dragon l'Cie banished the Dracobaltians from the land and established the Kingdom of Concordia over the remains of the Dracobaltian kingdom. Concordia soon entered a war against Rubrum that led to the development of Eidolons by the dominion.
In the north Lorican Alliance developed ways to enhance their arms with the power of the Black Tortoise Crystal, but as this sapped the Crystal of its power, the king forbade the practice. Milites in the west had developed the magitek armor to combat Lorican armaments, and Concordia in the east inherited the Blue Dragon Crystal's power to manifest dragons.
Steeled and strengthened through centuries of war, each Crystal-State had developed formidable fighting forces convincing each head-of-state that unifying Orience under one banner was possible, building momentum toward an all-out war that came to a head in 357. In addition to the arms race, the waning of the Crystals' power drove the four state leaders to expedite their war efforts. The Crystals were the source of all four nations' military strength, but extracting energy from them exacerbated their deterioration.
Fearing the weakening of the Crystals to be permanent, each nation sought to annihilate the others, culminating in the Great Orience War during which the Crystals began deteriorating even faster, as each state expended energy to replenish its weapons, armor, and magic, while each Crystal expended its power to defend itself through the creation of l'Cie. As it became obvious the power of all four Crystals was waning, on Ventusmens IV in the year 359, the four nations of Orience ordered a ceasefire and began preparations for a peace treaty. Pax Codex that prohibits the use of l'Cie n war was drawn up in 361, and in 448 the four peristylia drew up a non-governmental ledge of non-aggression, known as the Fabula Pact.
Marshal Cid Aulstyne took over Milites after the emperor mysteriously disappeared, and developed a way to subjugate the White Tiger Crystal. The empire is the only nation that has figured out a way to subjugate their Crystal, and thus, its l'Cie. Many people of the other nations view this as the empire having defiled their Crystal, but Cid views living under the Crystal's Will a type of enslavement and wishes to free Orience from their power.
With the White Tiger Crystal under his control, the empire developed a crystal jammer that disables other nations' Crystals. Cid sends his army, including magitek armor, airships and l'Cie, to dominate Orience. Cid has the White Tiger Secundus l'Cie Qun'mi Tru'e power up the empire's weapon of mass destruction, the Ultima Bomb, to obliterate Lorica and its Black Peristylium. Lorica is wiped off the map and Cid has the Black Tortoise Crystal excavated from the ruins. It is unknown what ultimately happens to the Black Tortoise Crystal, but its l'Cie seem to have lost sight of their Foci, and gone mad.
The White Tiger Crystal appears to try and resist being subjugated, but to slim avail. Its Primus l'Cie Nimbus is reluctant to follow Cid, but does so nonetheless. The White Tiger Crystal responds when Queen Andoria invokes the Fabula Pact, a peace agreement made between the four peristylia of Orience rather than with their governments. When Cid realizes this, he only wryly remarks it being "quaint".
As Queen Andoria is a Secundus l'Cie of the Azure Dragon Crystal, thus heeding its Will, and because the Vermilion Bird Crystal began to shine right before the queen invoked the pact, it can be assumed the Crystals themselves will for the war to end and thus have Andoria invoke the pact. When the queen meets with the cadets of Class Zero she says peace is the Will of the Crystals, and should the cadets violate it, it would only lead to Tempus Finis. The agreement is soon broken when Cid has the queen assassinated, and war sweeps across all of Orience. The new king of Concordia hands the Azure Dragon Crystal to the empire.
The Vermilion Bird Crystal appears to have realized what is happening, and in an unexpected move has its two l'Cie take up arms and contribute to the war effort to defeat the Militesi-Concordian coalition. It tasks its Secundus l'Cie, Lady Caetuna, with summoning a Verboten Eidolon to annihilate the Militesi forces while its Primus l'Cie Lord Zhuyu takes out the Azure Dragon Primus l'Cie Soryu. Rubrum reigns victorious, and as they take over the White Peristylium Tempus Finis begins, Pandæmonium rises from the sea and Rursan Reavers—magitek creatures birthed by the mysterious Rursan Crystal, the only Crystal not created by Arecia—lay waste to Orience.
Cid has Nimbus take him to Pandæmonium to become Agito. Despite his efforts to prevent it, he is made a l'Cie of the Rursan Crystal by the fal'Cie Gala and turned into the Rursan Arbiter. The Azure Dragon Secundus l'Cie Celestia helps the cadets of Class Zero of the nation of Rubrum set foot in Pandæmonium, but defies the Will of the Azure Dragon Crystal in doing this, and loses her humanity. The Vermilion Bird Crystal senses a White Tiger l'Cie in Pandæmonium and brands Rem Tokimiya as its l'Cie, sending her to Pandæmonium so one of its own will become Agito. Rem engages the White Tiger l'Cie, revealed to be Machina, but both enter crystal stasis.
Despite the Crystals' efforts, it appears one who becomes l'Cie cannot be Agito, resulting in a staggering number of failed experiments. Whether the concept of Agito is infeasible by its very nature, or because a soul must be strong on its own, not given itself to a Crystal, to become one, is unknown. In the spirals where Class Zero accepts the Vermilion Bird Crystal's offer to become l'Cie the cadets are slain, and the spiral started a new.
In the 600,104,972nd spiral Class Zero turns down the offer and wins against the Rursan Arbiter as mortals despite the Arbiter deeming them unfit to be Agito. Instead of restarting the spiral, Arecia listens to the cadets' souls and learns they have made their own decision on how they met their end, and wish not to be revived for another cycle. Arecia departs from Orience, abandoning the experiment to find Etro's gate with the Agito.
A new era dawns on Orience as without Arecia, the light of the Crystals gradually fades. Without them, people are allowed to remember the dead. The wars that had plagued the world since its formation come to a stop, but without the Crystals' power a dark age begins with mankind having to learn to cope on its own. Machina becomes instrumental in bringing Orience out of this dark age and uniting it in an era of peace. What becomes of the Rursus Crystal and Gala is unknown.
In an alternate ending Arecia removes the Crystals from Orience's history, and the war never happens.
Creation and developmentEdit
The original story draft was written by Director Hajime Tabata, and largely lacked the elements of the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology, which were added later by scenario writers when the script was re-worked. Tabata's original story had another continent in the west holding a black crystal whose name was "west" in Latin. The Orience Alliance Army would launch an attack to this continent, similar to the real world invasion of Normandy during World War II. When Class Zero discovered the truth to Khalia and Cid's intention (leaders of Rubrum and Milites), they began to fight to protect their homeland, rather than be involved in a war motivated solely by political reasons, and the other nations' soldiers would follow along with this line of thinking. During this mission majority of the troops would be killed in the enemy stronghold, and Class Zero would end up in a life-or-death battle. In the end, a child would have been born to the player party's side, perhaps depending on the player's choices during the game, or even making the kid the true Agito. Initially, life energy was not known as phantoma, but when the Crystal—made out of that energy that humans pushed to their limit would "exude"—was passed down to their offspring, it could create a human capable of traveling between the mortal world and the unseen world: an Agito. This original setting thus still turned out to be congruent with the Fabula Nova Crystallis lore, although only the last part.
Etymology and symbolismEdit
Four Symbols (Chinese: 四象; pinyin: Sì Xiàng) are four mythological creatures in the Chinese constellations. They are the Azure Dragon, (Qing Long) of the East, the Vermilion Bird (Zhu Que) of the South, the White Tiger (Bai Hu) of the West, and the Black Turtle (Xuan Wu) of the North. While originating from China, the Four Symbols are also widely known in Korea, Japan and Vietnam. Each region have distinct names for the symbols. In Japan, the Shijin, as they are collectively known, are called Seiryū, Suzaku, Byakko and Genbu respectively.The
Pandæmonium, where the Rursus Crystal is assumed to be located, appears at the peninsula that stands at the middle of Orience. In the mythology of the Four Symbols, the original incarnation featured the Shenlong or Koryu, the Golden Dragon representative of the Wu Xing element of Earth, the direction of center, and the highest powers that govern over the rest of the Four Symbols. Its Japanese analogue rather sees no beast represent the aspects of center, and instead represents the element of Sky, or The Void. In traditional Final Fantasy lore the Void is the realm of formation where the crystals that sustain the worlds were once born. In Final Fantasy Type-0 the area where the party meets the Judge, the l'Cie of the Rursus Crystal, is a place amid a void.
- The four Crystals of Orience allude to the elemental crystals familiar from the early Final Fantasy series: Vermilion Bird represents the Fire Crystal, the Black Tortoise Crystal represents the Water Crystal, the White Tiger Crystal represents the Earth Crystal, and the Azure Dragon Crystal represents the Wind Crystal.