- “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.
Appearance and PersonalityEdit
In the original Final Fantasy XIV, Darnus wears 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 is a woman with long white hair and dark lipstick. Nael's more notable feature is the pearl-like Bindi on her 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. In fact, it was said that when Darnus rose to power after the death of his ill father, which was believed to be was no coincidence, that 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 much too valuable to retire from the frontlines of the war. During his operations in XIV, 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.
Darnus has been appearing at some camps to warn adventurers about false prophets. He also meets the player as Ifrit is defeated, asking for the name of one who was victorious over a Primal. After claiming that the changes on Dalamud are of imperial doing for the land's betterment, Darnus sees the player and his party are not interested in joining her cause as he drains a close aetherial gate using Bradamante and shoots its energy towards the player and his party, destroying the gate in the process.
In a later quest, the player is able to use the echo to view the past of a Gridanian soldier, who Darnus silenced for eavesdropping in a conversation between herself and Gaius Van Baelsar. In that dialogue, Darnus attempts to convince Gaius that just conquering Eorzea is not enough to stop the Primals; the forbidden Allagan magic Meteor should be cast upon the land to purge them. Gaius, however, disagrees with that view due to the unpredictable nature of Dalamud until Darnus reveals that he can find the three tombstones needed to fully control the Meteor spell.
In the aftermath of Garuda's defeat, Darnus reveals the deaths of the Primals are the key to access Dalamud's power while telling the player character that he will let the character 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. However, due to the efforts of the Grand Companies of Eorzea and several adventurers, the device was successfully destroyed.
Filled with rage, Nael easily defeats the group and is suddenly engulfed in a red light, which he claims to be the power of Dalamud itself. With that power, he once again attacks, leaving the adventurer group badly wounded and walks way, saying he still has the means to purify Eorzea with the powers of Dalamud.
Not long after, the companies were able to track down Nael's location to nearby the Allagan ruins in Camp Glory. An attack group was quickly assembled and sent to the region, only to find the Rivenroad. Using the floating island as an altar, Nael sends fiery rocks raining from Dalamud to the countryside. Before the party arrives 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 her mind and becoming a being of pure hatred and destruction. But finally defeated, Darnus's body becomes pure energy and disappears into wisps of light with her gunhalbred remaining. However, her essence ended up in the possession of Bahamut and was recreated within the Binding Coil of Bahamut as a guardian. It also appeared gunhalberd ended up in the possession of Hildibrand Manderville sometime after.
Despite his defeat, the End of an Era trailer showed that the efforts of the adventurers who defeated Darnus were in vain as his plan succeeded in a sense, albeit not the way originally thought. The wide-spread destruction caused by Bahamut's release reshaped much of Eorzea. Darnus's gunhalberd was believed to be intact and currently in the possession of Gilgamesh; but it is revealed to be a fake.
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 very brief appearance alongside Louisoix as they were observing the head of Bahamut together, but he seems to go unnoticed by Alisaie. When Alisaie's journey brings her to Turn Nine in the Second Coil of Bahamut, he 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 tells them that they will die 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. In maddened glee, Deus Darnus transforms into a dragon-like monster and summons Bradamante to do battle with the Adventurer again.
Being one of the Garlean Legatus, Nael is one of the Empire's most accomplished warriors.
He is shown to be a very skilled Lancer, having access to two of the strongest Weapon Skills from the class. Furthermore, his gunhalberd is able to drain all 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 is also capable of altering 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.
Nael Van Darnus is fought as the final boss of the Seventh Umbral Era storyline. After losing the first fight, he's powered up by Dalamud and gains access to new abilities as Nael Deus Darnus.
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. Additionally, he 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" 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 is never stated in-game. However, many players believe he is an elezen, due to her height and mannerisms. His bowing gesture, in particular, is very 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).