Ysayle is one of my favourite Heavensward characters; I found her deeply sympathetic and appealing and so I’ve been amusing myself trying to investigate some of her story. A lot of what follows is more psychological speculation than lore (there are a couple of lore questions too!) so i hope you’re not offended by finding this on the lore forums.
Ysayle is an Elezen woman who lived in Falcon’s Nest before the Calamity. She had begun having visions before this, visions born out of the Echo, visions that came without warning and terrified her. Presumably she did not understand them in the slightest. We do not know how old she was when the Calamity happened but probably still in her teens since Midgardsormr refers to her as ‘the child who glimpsed the truth’. At that time Falcon’s Nest was quickly buried under snow and ice, and Ysale fled with others – possibly with her family? – to Ishgard. But while she and her companions were trying to find a way through ‘the wall’, an avalanche struck, and all the others were lost. Instead of continuing to Ishgard, she chose to turn alone for Dravania for some reason, perhaps because of the visions she had been experiencing. She expected the dragons to find her; perhaps she expected them to kill her. Since she believed she had lost everything, perhaps she wanted them to. But it was the great dragon Hraesvelgr who found her, and the Echo allowed her to hear his voice and see ‘the truth through his eyes’. When she discovered this ‘truth’ – the truth about the Dragonsong War – she found new purpose. She believed it was her destiny to show the people of Ishgard what had really happened and end the war between dragon and man (At the End of Our Hope, FFXIV Heavensward)
Like the Warrior of Light, however, she does not really understand how the dragons can still bear such a potent grudge after so long. She believes that Nidhogg will give up the war if he recovers his Eye; she is at a loss how to explain the slaughter in Foundation after she opened the defences for the dragons. ‘It wasn’t supposed to be like that! You have to believe me! It was . . . beyond my control. Children taught to fear the skies, who saw their loved ones slaughtered . . . Yet the Dravanians – though they know where the fault truly lies – fell on them with such fury . . .’
Midgardsormr tries to explain it, although he confesses himself that he doubts she – or the Warrior of Light – can understand. ‘Men die, and their children forget. But we are everlasting. To us, then is as now. Thou canst not comprehend the violation. The outrage. The fury.’ (Midgardsormr, At the End of Our Hope, Heavensward)
I see Ysayle as a terrified fifteen-year-old, tormented by bloody visions (perhaps she thinks she is going mad?) who endures the horror of the Calamity and then loses all her friends and family in an avalanche. She heads for Dravania – her words at this point almost suggest she is expecting to die when the dragons find her, perhaps even hopes for it – and meets Hraesvelgr. And what she learns then gives her purpose. She becomes evangelical, almost fanatical, in pursuit of it. Having lost everything and endured terrible things, this is hardly surprising. She is a hugely compelling character, almost a tragic heroine, at least for me.
So … my questions. I’m interested to hear how other people see Ysayle, whether you agree with my estimation of her age, and the impact of the losses she endured. I would also like to know who you think told her about the Echo. She does refer to it as the Echo so someone cleared up the mystery for her. What is the ‘wall’ she refers to when heading for Ishgard from Falcon’s Nest? Is Midgardsormr’s explanation of the dragons’ continuing thirst for vengeance acceptable or is he right that men will never understand?
Thanks for your time and patience!