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In the 863rd year of the Crystal Era, Vana'diel was in the midst of a great war. Faced with invasion of the Shadow Lord and his hordes of beastmen, the leaders of the enlightened peoples united their forces in desperate alliance. They were the Kingdom of San d'Oria, the Republic of Bastok, the Federation of Windurst, and the Grand Duchy of Jeuno. Together, they struggled for survival in battle after battle as chaos engulfed the land.
The Crystal War, also referred to as the Great War, is a major historical conflict in Final Fantasy XI. It began two decades before the events of the original game in the year 862 of the Crystal Era. It was fought for magical crystals, which were the manifestations of the primordial elements. The hordes of beastmen destroyed city after city turning both land and water black with their presence. The five enlightened races (Humes, Galkas, Mithras, Tarutarus, and Elvaan) united and defeated the beastmen. Much of the land of Vana'diel, once idyllic and prosperous, was in ruin.
The Final Fantasy XI: Wings of the Goddess expansion allows players to travel back in time to the age of the Crystal War and to participate in the events through Campaign, a new system similar to Conquest for the original game and Besieged featured in Final Fantasy XI: Treasures of Aht Urhgan. Most of the storyline deals with consequences of interlopers from an alternate timeline traveling back as well.
This wretched war was brought about by a single man--the self-proclaimed Shadow Lord. His sole desire is said to be the eradication of all the peoples of Vana'diel--those born from the five tears of Altana. But what is the true identity of this Shadow Lord? And to what sick, twisted end does he sow the seeds of destruction across the land?
The Crystal War erupted in 862 C.E. and lasted until 864 C.E. The Allied Forces of Altana battled the combined armies of the Shadow Lord, known collectively as the Beastman Confederate, in a conflict that raged over both the Quon and Mindartian continents. It is recorded as the largest and bloodiest war in Vana'diel history.
In the year 855 C.E., a mysterious entity arrived in the land of Valdeaunia with the howling hosts of the underworld at his command—the impact of the Shadow Lord's appearance was akin to a meteor strike. In a few short years, the Shadow Lord had united the disparate factions of the beastmen into an organized force and declared his intention to scour every last child of Altana from the face of Vana'diel. During the 4th moon of the year 862 C.E. he had already begun his invasion of the San d'Orian region of Norvallen.
In the opening stages of the war, the nations of Vana'diel attempted to fight the beastmen independently only to suffer repeated losses against their enemies' vastly superior numbers. At the behest of Archduke Kam'lanaut of Jeuno, the nations of San d'Oria, Bastok, and Windurst put aside their historical enmities and formed the Allied Forces of Altana. As the isolated nations began sharing information and resources, they gradually developed the infrastructure to plan operations that would span entire continents.
Setting the StageEdit
The Republic of Bastok, the Kingdom of San d'Oria, and the Federation of Windurst had conquered all of the known lands of Vana'diel and began to turn their eyes towards each other’s lands. As they turned their attentions upon each other, the Kindred, winged beastmen known as Demons by the five races of Altana, began to amass in the frozen northlands. They were more intelligent than the other beastmen of Vana'diel, and wore dark armor that protected them from both physical and magical attacks. They were under the leadership of a powerful Demon known as the Shadow Lord who directed his people to send out emissaries to the other beastman of the south. The Orcs, Quadav, and Yagudo all agreed to submit to his authority.
Under the Shadow Lord's orders and the leadership of Demon commanders, the beastmen began to raid small encampments for supplies for his future plans. All three kingdoms were raided using tactics and weapons they had never seen before. The fourth and largest raid was at the island of Qufim Island near the small fishing town of Jeuno. The Humes fought against a new adversary, the massive Gigas warriors, the fourth beastman to be recruited by the Shadow Lord. The Humes were slaughtered and the few that escaped fled to Jeuno.
Founding of the Grand DuchyEdit
The leader of Jeuno proposed secession from the Republic of Bastok. The president accepted to withdraw his musketeers from Jeuno to his capital to defend it against the rising beastmen. The new city-state of the Grand Duchy of Jeuno was formed and their leader, Kam'lanaut, was made Archduke. No one knew where the strange person came from, but the citizens recognized his intelligence and military brilliance.
The Archduke replaced the musketeers by recruiting some of the best warriors found in Vana'diel, and he trained them himself. They became known as the Ducal Guard. This increase in security lessened the beastman raids, and increased commerce and trade in Jeuno. The city began to grow and three bridges–Harbor Bridge, Market Bridge, and Artisan Bridge–were built connecting Jeuno with the other major continents of the "middle lands."
The Battle of BastokEdit
The first large assault by the Shadow Lord was taken against the Republic of Bastok. The Quadav had tunneled their way from Palborough Mines to the the Bastok Mines. The mortal enemy of the Galka, the Antica, were also recruited by the Shadow Lord for the assault. They used the Korroloka Tunnel, the same tunnel the Galka used to flee their home, to enter Bastok. The Hume and the Galka pushed back the horde from entering the Metalworks and sealed off parts of the Zeruhn Mines, but lost many of their own to achieve the victory.
The Battle of Garlaige CitadelEdit
With the help of the other beastmen, the Yagudo finished building Castle Oztroja from where the Yagudo cut off the magic-wielding Tarutaru from the rest of the world. The Kingdom of San d’Oria secretly attempted to construct a passway from their stronghold Garlaige Citadel into Sauromugue Campaign to help the Tarutaru of Windurst. Five hundred of the Kingdom's best men were sent to protect the workers. Yet, the Orcs discovered the movement of the San d’Orian knights to the citadel and informed the Yagudo. The two beastmen attacked the stronghold at the point where the workers and knights were inside the tunnels. Every last knight was slaughtered, and the beastmen razed the building.
Battle of WindurstEdit
...Bathed in blessed light celestial, I invoke the age-old pact anew... Let thy savage roar resound through the heavens... ...And thy empyreal fangs pierce the shadow true. I bid you come forth! Great Beast Fenrir!
The Shadow Lord launched an invasion of Windurst by sending 30,000 of his best troops to destroy the city. The beastmen attacked at Odin's Gate only defended by 1000 War Warlocks, Mithran hunters and Cardians. The Windurstan army was no match for the advancing horde. They breached the gates and began to move towards Heavens Tower.
Just as it looked like all hope was gone a bright light from the east appeared. The minister of Optistery, Karaha-Baruha, appeared along with the avatar Fenrir, whom the Star Sibyl had forbid summoning. Fenrir pounced on the beastmen, ripping dozens apart with each swing of its paw. The beastmen fled and Karaha-Baruha and Fenrir pursued. Neither were ever seen again.
The Battle of TavnaziaEdit
An invasion of the San d;Orian monastery at Davoi by the Orcs took place shortly after the fall of the Garlaige Citadel. The Orcs launched a surprise attack from the surrounding mountains and subdued the city. The king, knowing he couldn't defend his kingdom from a direct attack, sent a lone Royal Knight to Davoi. The knight carried documents about the powerful weapon Lightbringer thought to be housed at Tavnazia. The king planned the knight be captured and the documents discovered by the Orcs and they would turn their attention away from San d'Oria and towards their allies in Tavanzia.
The plan worked, and the Orcs began to plan for an assault on the stronghold. San d'Oria informed Windurst, Bastok and the Empire of Aht Urhgan about the massing Orcish troops and their plans to invade Tavnazia. Windurst and Bastok agreed to send in troops, but Aht Urhgan, allies of Tavnazia for generations, refused to supply men or equipment, an action that would dissuade many from helping Aht Urhgan in the future. The king's plan to bring Aht Urhgan into the Crystal War failed.
Under the cover of darkness, the Orcs launched the largest battle of the Crystal War. One hundred thousand troops and war machines besieged the Tavnazian stronghold. The allied forces did not stand a chance. Messengers were sent out requesting reinforcements, but they couldn’t arrive in time. Every last warrior, mage and hunter were slaughtered, and the citizens attempted to flee their destroyed home through underground tunnels.
An explosion erupted inside the tunnels so powerful that the entire peninsula of Tavnazia was separated from Quon and formed the archipelago that is present today. Few know how it happened, yet, the five races of Altana believe it was caused by an Orcish secret weapon. The blast not only destroyed the Orcs, but united the three nations to form the Allied Forces of Altana.
The Battle of JeunoEdit
Good soldier know when fight is over. Your fight now over. You press seal here. Then all your Jeuno are belong to us!
With the dramatic decrease in Orcish troops, the Yagudo and the Quadav began to lose their faith in the Shadow Lord. They withdrew from the war and went into hiding. The Shadow Lord attempted to enlist the aid of the Sahagin and Tonberry, but was largely unsuccessful.
Seeing the beastmen's power weakening, the Archduke Kam'lanaut gathered the Allied Forces of Altana to the city-state of Jeuno to plan a final advance on the Shadow Lord. The Archduke himself also petitioned that the Empire of Aht Urghan join in the war, but the empire once again refused. The Dark Lord sent Gigas warriors to assault Jeuno before they could assemble a planned attack. Under the leadership of the Archduke, the Allied Forces of Altana pushed back the troops. The remaining Gigas fled towards Delkfutt's Tower, where they still remain to this day.
The Battle of XarcabardEdit
The hour of reckoning is nigh. Spitewardens. Make ready for war.
Together, Kam'lanaut and Cid began work on a secret weapon. Kam'lanaut provided Cid with the knowledge of crystal-powered engines and with this technology, Cid designed a ship able to fly. He called his new creation an airship and named his prototype First Ship. Yet, the Allied Forces of Altana were anxious to defeat the Shadow Lord and decided to go to battle without the weapon.
The champion of Bastok, Volker, led the remaining troops of the Allies Forces of Altana to the frozen northlands of Xarcabard. The troops were battle-hardened from the many skirmishes they had experienced during the Great War but even with their experience they were no match for the Demons. Volker decided to send in a small covert group to penetrate the Castle Zvahl Baileys. He chose the best warriors, one of each race, to join him in his mission. This elite squad battled their way to the tallest tower where the Shadow Lord commanded his army from an obsidian throne. The heroes fought the dark lord and with one final thrust from Volker's weapon the Shadow Lord was defeated.
With the vanquishment of the Shadow Lord the Demons vanished as well. The Allied Forces of Altana won and the Crystal War was at an end.