This land is for one thing... purification!... And for that I gladly offer up both body and soul.
- —Nael Van Darnus
Nael Van Darnus (ネール・ヴァン・ダーナス, Nēru van Dānasu?), also known as The White Raven (白銀の凶鳥, Hakugin no Magatori?, lit. The Silver Harbinger of Birds), is the main antagonist of the original Final Fantasy XIV storyline. The Legatus of the VIIth Legion dispatched to the western front, he boasts a distinguished parentage in his late father, a founding figure of the Garlean Empire, and a descendent of the Allagans.
He carries a gunhalberd named Bradamante, said to be named after a warrior maiden he had killed.
In the original Final Fantasy XIV, Darnus wore silver full-body armor styled after Near and Middle Eastern clothing and armor, with a horned skull-like helmet concealing his face. In A Realm Reborn, Darnus appears as a woman with long white hair and dark lipstick, although this is a simulacrum based on his memories. Nael's more notable feature is the pearl-like Bindi on his forehead, which is the same Garlean birthmark Nero and Cid revealed on separate occasions some time ago. While Nael originally lived as a man, this sudden change of gender was explained as a simulacrum of what was left of a little fraction of the original Nael before his brink of oblivion five years ago.
Feeling that the empire's invasion of Eorzea is of divine intervention to save its people from their pagan ideals, Darnus is ruthless and rose to infamy even among his own people. As he sees them as fools, Darnus draws no distinction between friend and enemy when met with opposition. When Darnus rose to power after the death of his ill father, which was believed to be no coincidence, he had his father's closest aides executed soon after his burial. Despite these dark rumors, the battle prowess of Darnus and the VII Legion is such that, even though they have spent long years in active service, the Empire has deemed them too valuable to retire from the frontlines. During his operations Nael displays a liking for the theatrical while in the presence of the adventurer, using grand gestures while talking to those he views as below him.
Being one of the Garlean Legatus, Nael is one of the Empire's most accomplished warriors. He is a skilled Lancer, having access to two of its strongest Weapon Skills. His gunhalberd can drain the aether from an aetherial node, and shoot it as high energy beam. Darnus is also capable of short range teleportation without needing to attune with an Aetheryte.
After being powered by Dalamud, Darnus gained the ability to absorb other beings' life energy and to animate stone golems. During the final battle, he could alter the aether flux around the Rivenroad to capture small fragments of Dalamud and attract them to it as small meteors, and by activating the ruins' magicked glyphs, he also gained the ability to unleash a devastating energy beam over the entire area.
Darnus had been appearing at some camps to warn adventurers about false prophets. He met the adventurer as Ifrit was defeated, asking for the name of one who was victorious over a primal. After claiming the changes on Dalamud were of imperial doing for the land's betterment, Darnus saw the adventurer and their party were not interested in joining his cause. He drained a close aetherial gate using Bradamante and shot its energy towards the party, destroying the gate.
In a later quest, the adventurer could use the echo to view the past of a Gridanian soldier, whom Darnus silenced for eavesdropping in a conversation between himself and Gaius Van Baelsar. In that dialogue, Darnus attempted to convince Gaius that conquering Eorzea was not enough to stop the primals; the forbidden Allagan magic Meteor should be cast upon the land to purge them. Gaius initially disagreed due to the unpredictable nature of Dalamud, until Darnus claimed he can find the three tomestones needed to fully control the Meteor spell.
In the aftermath of Garuda's defeat, Darnus revealed the deaths of the primals were the key to access Dalamud's power, while telling the adventurer that he will let them live long enough to destroy the other primals for him.
Soon after, the construction of Castrum Novum was finished, and the lunar transmitter needed to call Dalamud upon Eorzea placed inside it and activated to bring down Meteor. Due to the efforts of the Grand Companies of Eorzea and several adventurers, the device was destroyed.
Filled with rage, Nael defeated the group and was engulfed in a red light, which he claimed to be the power of Dalamud itself. He continued his attack, leaving the adventurer group wounded before walking way, saying he still has the means to purify Eorzea with the powers of Dalamud.
Not long after, the companies tracked down Nael's location to nearby Allagan ruins in Camp Glory. An attack group was assembled and sent to the region, only to find the Rivenroad. Using the floating island as an altar, Nael sent fiery rocks raining from Dalamud to the countryside before the party arrived on the Enterprise.
Losing a fierce battle, hoping to use the party as sacrificial offerings, Nael resorted to bathing in Dalamud's light for more power, losing what was left of his mind and becoming a being of pure hatred and destruction. Finally defeated, Darnus's body became pure energy and disappeared into wisps of light with his gunhalbred remaining. His essence ended up in the possession of Bahamut, and was recreated within the Binding Coil of Bahamut as a guardian.
Despite his defeat, the efforts of the adventurers who defeated Darnus were in vain as the wide-spread destruction caused by Bahamut's release reshaped much of Eorzea. Darnus's gunhalberd was believed to be intact, and remains in the possession of Gilgamesh, but the one he originally held was stolen by what Gilgamesh described as "the demon bird." He later finds the fake copy which Inspector Hildibrand Manderville claimed to own, but realized this was a copy when he first used it in battle.
The Binding Coil of BahamutEdit
During the adventurer's assistance in Alisaie's investigation in the first part of the Binding Coil of Bahamut, they see what appeared to be Darnus making a brief appearance alongside Louisoix as they were observing the head of Bahamut together, but the figure seems to go unnoticed by Alisaie.
The Second Coil of BahamutEdit
When the adventurer and Alisaie arrive in the Outer Coil, they encounter Nael Van Darnus waiting behind the entrance gate. Nael approaches and reveals the original Nael Van Darnus perished upon the eve of the Calamity, and that his body is nothing but a shell Bahamut put his influence into, naming him Nael Deus Darnus. Deus Darnus warns the party that should they venture deeper in the Second Coil, they will have to answer to him. After doing so, Nael jumps off the ledge of the entrance and disappears into the depths of the dungeon.
Upon arriving to the Holocharts, Alisaie and the adventurer find themselves in an the Riven Road where Deus Darnus awaits them. Telling them that their presence is an insult to his original self's resting place, Deus Darnus threatens to kill them before Alisaie knocks the Legatus's helmet off with a ruin spell, revealing a white-haired woman bearing the Garlemald birthmark. Deus Darnus is revealed to be what remained of the original Darnus after a fraction his essence was recovered by Bahamut, and used to create an artificial being in Darnus's likeness with elements from his memory. In maddened glee, Deus Darnus transforms into a dragon-like monster and summons Bradamante before being defeated by the adventurer.
Following his defeat Nael rises to his feet, regains his sanity, and while confused about his current body, ultimately accepts he was enslaved by Bahamut. Cursing his weakness for succumbing to the very power he had been trying to purge from the world, he makes it clear that Project Meteor had been solely his idea. Once Alisaie introduces herself as Louisoix's granddaughter, much to his surprise, he warns her that unless she were to steel herself, and her resolve for the harsh truth that awaited her, that she would crumble under the weight of her own despair as Nael did as a child. Louisoix slays Nael with a spear of light and in his final moments Nael sees an image of Dalamud, the symbol of the plan that ultimately cost him his life, but still marvels at its beauty.
Nael Van Darnus was fought as the final boss of the Seventh Umbral Era storyline. After losing the first fight, he was powered up by Dalamud and gained access to new abilities as Nael Deus Darnus. In A Realm Reborn, a resurrected Deus Darnus is confronted as the final boss of The Second Coil of Bahamut.
Nael Van Darnus has his own leitmotif, most notably played during his conversation with Gaius Van Baelsar, and again when he injures the player upon the Lunar Transmitter's destruction. He also has two battle themes, each played during a stage of the final battle against him.
"Tempest" is a rock-like variation of his theme, played during the first stage of the battle. "Rise of the White Raven" is the theme of the second stage of the battle, played after he loses his sanity from absorbing too much of Dalamud's power and becomes Nael Deus Darnus. Both of these themes reappear when the player engages Nael Deus Darnus in the Second Coil of Bahamut in A Realm Reborn.
Nael appears with a dark-elemental card depicting his official render.
"Nael" is a name of Arabic origin meaning "triumph". "Van" is based on German word von which means "from", but is also used to show that someone is a member of a noble family. Van is also the Dutch word for "from".
- Darnus's armor closely resembles those worn by the Archadian Judges of Final Fantasy XII, and in particular, Gabranth's.
- In "United We Stand", after wounding the player, Nael Van Darnus takes his leave similarly to that of Sephiroth in the Nibelheim burning scene.
- Before Nael's face was revealed, Darnus's race was never stated in-game. Many players believe he is an elezen, due to his height and mannerisms. His bowing gesture, in particular, is similar to the elezen bow emote.
- Nael Deus Darnus being able to use Megaflare is likely an allusion to the fact that Dalamud was imprisoning Bahamut.
- Nael Van Darnus is the de facto leader of the Garlean VII Legion and head of Project Meteor, as an allusion to the plot of Final Fantasy VII (Meteorfall).
- After Nael's defeat, the Bradamante halberd would be found by Gilgamesh before it was stolen from him by "the demon bird." Given Nael's appearance in A Realm Reborn, as well as his possession of the weapon when encountered again, it is possible the thief was Nael himself.
- Nael's gender is treated differently depending on the language. The English version explains Nael's appearance as a woman as Bahamut's doing when recreating Nael's body while the Japanese version treats Nael as having always been a woman, but was a twist made by the lack of voice acting in the original Final Fantasy XIV.