Man should fight for the joy of it. To live, to eat, to breed -- lesser beasts snap and howl at one another for this. Only man has the wisdom -- and the clarity -- to embrace violence for its own sake.
Zenos yae Galvus is the main antagonist of the expansion Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood. As Legatus of the XIIth Legion and the son of emperor Varis zos Galvus, he now serves as the Imperial Viceroy of Ala Mhigo since the death of Gaius van Baelsar.
Although not officially revealed until FanFest 2016, his existence was alluded in the events of Patch 3.4 Soul Surrender.
Zenos, like many other Garlean militants, dresses in dark full plate armor and often appears behind a pale white mask with two horns. He incorporates some of Ala Mhigo's traditional outfit into his appearance, adorning his armor with trial textile and belt.
Zenos is the second Garlean antagonist to go without his mask at times, the first being Nero tol Scaeva. He is a man in mid to late 20s with a youthful face and fair complexion. His long golden hair flows down his back and shoulders, visible even with mask.
His weapon of choice is the katana. He carries three in a "sword revolver", prominent throughout promotional materials of Zenos.
Zenos is arrogant, selfish and evil. Having been raised to be the next emperor in line for the throne, he disregards the importance of human life. Drunk on power as the crown prince and viceroy of both Ala Mhigo and Doma, Zenos cares little for his job of governing the provinces.
Since Zenos never found challenge in battle, he treats his conquered subjects not as people but as prey to hunt and partakes in battles for the thrill of the kill. His purpose in war is to collect swords. Alphinaud admits Zenos is a peerless warrior and accomplished general, the crushing of the Doman rebellion standing as proof of that. What Zenos loathes most is an opponent not providing enough "sport" in battle or cowards who flee.
Though Zenos views enemy and ally alike with contempt, he acknowledges the uses and strengths of his servants and allies. This includes Yotsuyu's hatred for her people to break the natives of Doma, Aulus mal Asina's scientific theory that would give Garleans the means to wield magicks, Fordola rem Lupis's desire to uplift her people to be accepted by the Garleans and to achieve the power to make all those who mocked her pay, and Asahi sas Brutus's zealous devotion to him. Nonetheless, despite most of them being loyal, they are expendable to Zenos.
Zenos searches for means to augment and improve his body, which already surpasses human limit due to experimentation conducted on him by the empire. He goes against Garlean doctrine and subdues the primal Shinryu for his own use, claiming to care little about his nation and its cowardly creeds regarding the eikons.
Upon encountering the Warrior of Light, Zenos feels a connection for their progress in battle. His last words call them as both his first "friend" and his enemy. This shows another side of Zenos, one that is lonely and possibly fatalistic, who having felt little value in the world except by drowning in the power bestowed on him or the blood of his enemies, can find a kindred spirit in the one who can finally best him. This could also mean, prior to his manic behavior towards the Warrior of Light becoming strong enough to challenge him, that Zenos is sociopathic and nihilistic, as he cares little for the lives and the world around him until finding someone who can face him as an equal.
As a child raised by an unloving father, Zenos was trained by imperial swordsman in the way of the blade. During Gaius van Baelsar's time as imperial viceroy of Ala Mhigo, Zenos oversaw the subjugation of Doma. Zenos became its regent after using his stratagems to place the Doman Liberation Front in corner while personally killing its strongest member, developing an interest in foreign blades.
After Gaius's demise at the Praetorium, Zenos was named viceroy of Ala Mhigo and named his spy Yotsuyu as Doma's acting viceroy so that her hatred towards her own people can break them. Zenos learned of the Echo from Gaius's reports, developing an interest while recruiting Aulus mal Asina whose theories of a means for Garleans to use magick like the other races intrigued him. He is mentioned during the events of "Soul Surrender" during the (decoy) Griffin's speech to Ala Mhigan refugees at the Sunken Temple of Qarn. The firebrand describes him as "a beast not a fraction as merciful" as Gaius.
Zenos appears briefly at the conclusion of the Heavensward story in "The Far Edge of Fate". A footsoldier approaches the viceroy on his throne in Ala Mhigo, informing that Baelsar's Wall has fallen to the Eorzean Alliance, and asks whether they should divert some men to repairing the damage from the battle between Shinryu and Omega. The soldier retreats in fear when Zenos fails to reply. Zenos comments to himself on his spy's reports about the Domans referring to the eikon as Shinryu, and that things are about to get "most interesting".
During the events of Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood, after being welcomed to Ala Mhigo Castle with the Garlemald anthem played in his honor, Zenos learns of Grynewaht's failure to losing a new series of Magitek automatons in an ambush orchestrated by Raubahn Aldynn and the Ala Mhigan Resistance. Zenos requests Grynewaht's removal from his legion for incompetent cowardice while executing Grynewaht's commanding officer for his incompetence. He listens to the plan Fordola rem Lupis formulated to bypass the barriers concealing Rhalgr's Reach and slaughter the rebels. Zenos oversees the attack, overpowering Lyse Hext, mortally wounding Y'shtola Rhul, and defeating the Warrior of Light with ease. Losing one of his swords while defeating the Warrior, Zenos leaves disappointed in his opponent as the Alliance arrives to aid the rebels.
When word reaches Zenos of the Confederacy's attack on Isari, he travels to Doma Castle and receives the Kojin sword Ame-no-Habakiri, which Yotsuyu took from the Red Kojin she had killed for abandoning their posts when they were needed on Isari. Zenos uses the blade to overpower the Warrior of Light and Yugiri Mistwalker when they attempt to assassinate him. Zenos discards his helmet upon finding it damaged by the Warrior. Sparing the Warrior in hopes of more pleasurable fight, Zenos takes his leave after the amassed Namai villages, Alisaie Leveilleur, and Gosetsu Everfall stop him from killing Yugiri. Threatening Yotsuyu to not fail him again in subduing the rebels, Zenos returns to Ala Mhigo where he acquires Shinryu to ready himself for another battle with the Warrior of Light.
When news reaches Zenos of Doma's liberation, Zemus kills the messenger while musing over his next fight with the Warrior of Light. Fordola arrives with Krile Mayer Baldesion as captive and Zenos awards her with one of his men's gunblades and sends her to Aulus. Following her loss of Castellum Velodyna (and unintentionally causing the summoning of the Ananta Primal Lakshmi), expecting to be executed for her failure, Zenos instead spares Fordola when she admits she desires to grow stronger, and instead has Aulus turn her into a Resonant.
When the Scions of the Seventh Dawn storm Castrum Abania, Fordolda delivers Zenos's message for them to come to Ala Mhigo Castle for the "royal hunt" he readied for them. When the alliance storms Ala Mhigo Castle and the Warrior of Light reaches the Hall of the Griffin, Zenos engages the hero. Excited that the Warrior has met his expectations, Zenos takes the fight to the Royal Menagerie where he frees Shinryu and uses his Resonant powers to take control of the primal by merging onto its chest. After an epic battle in the sky, Shinryu is defeated and Zenos crashes into the menagerie. Expressing joy over his defeat and of fulfilling the role he was raised to play, Zenos uses Ame no Habaki to slit his throat.
At the end of "Rise of a New Sun", Zenos sits on the edge of a bed in Garlean territory. It is not explained how he has been revived.
In "Under the Moonlight" Zenos appears in an Echo vision in Asahi's past where he orders Yotsuyu's primal summoning and furnishes him with the crystals and the artifact for it to happen, attempting to undermine Varis's arrangement for a joint effort against the primals, believing that alliances would not bear fruit. When the Warrior of Light shares this knowledge to their allies, a prying Maxima overhears and reveals he had no knowledge of Zenos's plan, guessing that a doppelganger may have been planted within their ranks. Alphinaud speculates that an Ascian may be involved. Zenos was scolded by Varis for his part in this, but Zenos assured everything that happened was as intended to preserve the fate of the world. The Scions investigate further on the matter by checking Zenos's grave, only to discover his corpse is missing, an Elezen bearing a katana in Resistance clothing watching from afar. The Elezen takes a magitek vehicle and flies off, stating that "the hunt is not over". It is later revealed that Elidibus himself had taken over Zenos' body, using his face and the power associated with it to take the Populares out of commission and prevent them from dispelling the rumors of the treaty breach. Because of Varis' hesitation, he was unresponsive to his "son", though he warns he should act swiftly before leaving.
Zenos is fought on three occasions, the first two as unwinnable battles demonstrating his might. In the level 61 solo instance "In Crimson It Began", he is the final opponent, who effortlessly swats away the other Scions, with the player character barely able to stand up to him before he decides they are unworthy opponents. During the level 64 instance "The Time between the Seconds", the player character duels him, but once Zenos draws the Ame-no-Habakiri he out-classes them.
He is encountered for the final time in Ala Mhigo as the dungeon boss, where he can be defeated and forced to retreat. He uses the power of the Resonant to fuse with Shinryu, which is fought as the final boss of Stormblood.
Unlike most Garlean characters, Zenos's cutscene appearances are accompanied by "Meteor", a theme previously used for Nael van Darnus. His first two battles are accompanied by "Wrath of the Eikons", a theme typically associated with Diabolos.
- Zenos is depicted at level 70 in all encounters, even while the player is in lower 60s and otherwise fights enemies of similar level, emphasizing his role as an opponent for the Warrior of Light to reach and surpass in Stormblood.