I’m not an expert in world- or lore-building, but I’ve dabbled in scriptwriting here and there for some games – and even got paid for it. Also, I took several courses in creative writing, which taught me some neat tricks of the trade. For instance, if someone dies of tuberculosis by the end of a novel, they should start coughing in chapter 3.
My point is: Final Fantasy XIV is a sprawling, living world that gets bigger and bigger with each new major update. To maintain a tight-knit mythology, the wordsmiths built a gigantic lore bible to consult whenever they come up with the next step on our Warrior of Light journey.
Since a Realm Reborn, the loremasters left many breadcrumbs for any theme they want to tap into them on a future expansion. One of the most intriguing is the topic in question here, Azem. Azem is a title given to one of the fourteen seats in the Convocation of Fourteen in Final Fantasy fourteen. The parallels are there. Despite their exceeding prominence and importance to the game, Azem is as mysterious as it gets.
This Azem FFXIV guide aims to flesh out all the secrecy pertaining to this title, its past bearers, and what it means to our Warrior of Light.
The Convocation of Fourteen
The question to be asked here is not who Azem is but what it is. Back when the world was still called Eitherys, the Convocation of Fourteen existed, a body of experts which governed the policies and rules of the Ancients’ creations. Those who participated in one of the fourteen seats were given a title that often became their new name as their duties carried on.
Among the most well-known are the seat of Emet-Selch, also known as the greatest villain in the gaming world, as well as Lahabrea, Elidibius, and others. The fourteenth seat was called Azem, or the Traveler. The role of Azem’s title bearer is to roam the world of Eitherys, familiarizing themselves with its people, cultures, and locales. Something very similar to what we do as FFXIV players, ain’t it.
Across the game, we encounter two ancients who have taken on the mantle of Azem. The first was Venat, who played her role with praise and came to love the people of this vast world. This would influence her future decision when other ancients wanted to sacrifice the lesser races to resurrect their peers offered in the summoning of Zodiark.
Venat was later known by Hydaelyn since she became the heart of the light-aspect primal. She was also responsible for granting the Blessing of Light to the Warrior of Light, allowing him to become the champion of Eorzea. Although some, including myself, believe it was just a placebo effect, and we’ve always had our might and inner strength of a godslayer.
When Venat stepped down from the seat of Azem and elected her successor, she didn’t go to retirement into the aetherial sea as most ancients do. Since the next Azem was Venat’s friend and pupil, it seemed like she wanted to observe him closely before finally returning to the aether.
The actual reason Venat didn’t dive into the aetherial sea is unknown. I believe it’s due to the new Azem being the type who preferred to ask for forgiveness than permission to do things, as reported several times by their friends Hades, holder of the Emet-Selch seat, and Hythlodaeus. So Venat wanted to ensure they wouldn’t spice things up too much. But of course, that’s just the conjecture of the one who writes.
Azem’s Adventurous Spirit
The new Azem, whose name is unknown so far, spent more time adventuring than participating in the Convocation of Fourteen. In one instance, they went against the Convocation’s orders to be a mere spectator as a volcano erupted on an isolated island. Azem used the Ifrita spirit to suck the aether from the explosion and release it elsewhere, preventing the island from being ravaged with lava. Should their ruse go wrong, it would be up to Hades to protect them from such reckless actions.
As Elidibus and Hades pondered why Azem had done this, the former said that the adventurer had commented on the exquisite grapes located on the island and that it would be a waste for them to be lost. But they both knew the truth. Azem simply wanted to save the one village that resided on that island from their scorching fate.
This account by Azem is found in Tales from the Shadows, a compilation of side stories from the Shadowbringers expansion, in the chapter Ere Our Curtain Falls. These small details show more about Azem’s personality, which is similar to our Warrior or Light beliefs but aren’t distinctly expressed in-game for whatever reason.
Needless to say, Azem was against the sacrifices for summoning Zodiark during the Final Days events and decided to abandon their seat in the Convocation of Fourteen. They also declined the invitation to call forth Hydaelyn. Because of these transgressions, as the Convocation dared to call, their peers refused to preserve the Traveler’s memory in crystals, represented by the constellations of the zodiac, including Ophiuchus.
However, Emet-Selch sneakily created a crystal for Azem and enchanted it with the Traveler’s power, the ability to summon allies from afar. This retconned the entire dynamic of FFXIV and its native online feature since, after this explanation, our Warrior of Light finally had a lorewise reason to fight alongside others. Azem’s crystal is represented by the sun symbol.
The Warrior of Light Arises
When Hydaelyn was invoked, and the Source and most ancients were split, Azem wasn’t spared. Their soul was divided into fourteen, and they didn’t retain their memories. When the Ascians began their project of Rejoining the shards to the Source, aiming to resurrect Zodiark, Azem was eventually reborn as us, the Warrior of Light, since their soul had been partially restored alongside the shards. Perhaps this also justifies our WoL propensity for being Hydaelyn’s favorite, the mastery of the Echo, and towering power over any other being in the world – except Zenos at the start of Stormblood.
Only in Shadowbringers do we get a bit more background story about the Ascians, the ancients, and Azem. Upon finding the shade of Hythlodaeus, he calls the Warrior of Light his new old friend, recognizing Azem’s soul.
Before confronting Emet-Selch in his Hades form, the Warrior of Light accepts the aid of Ardbert and dissipates the corruption of light. At that moment, Emet-Selch catches a brief glimpse of his friend Azem’s Ancient form where we stand but believes it to be a trick. Interestingly, the shade of Hythlodaeus found in Amaurot was a creation of Emet-Selch, which indicates that the Ascian wanted us to receive Azem’s crystal, even unconsciously.
When Elidibius hops in Ardbert’s body and tries to resume what Lahabrea and Emet-Selch failed as unsundered Ascians, he invokes the power of others. He turns into the iconic Warrior of Light poster figure from Final Fantasy I. Our WoL, known in the First as the Warrior of Darkness, wields Azem’s orange crystal, given to him by Hythlodaeus, and summons companions to face the Ascian.
On the moon, the true soul of Hythlodaeus greets us, recognizing the soul of Azem. Again we use the crystal from our past reincarnation to summon allies and face Zodiark in what I swore would be the last battle of the expansion, but gladly it wasn’t.
My mind slipped out of control when we went back to the past and visited Elpis. I expected answers but found even more questions related to Azem. Emet-Selch and Hythlodaeus recognize the Warrior of Soul as part of Azem. Considering that these events in Elpis predate the Sundering, the ancients assume that we are a relative of their friend. Venat, however, knows exactly who we are and where we come from. Luckily, this does not cause a butterfly effect, and events occur as they should. Or, unluckily, since this means that Final Days will still be upon us.
Near the end, about to face Meteion, the Warrior of Light uses the Azem crystal, now imbued with Hydaelyn’s power, and summons the spirits of Hythlodaeus and Emet-Selch. After a staggering emotional speech that made me cry like the first time I watched Titanic, Emet-Selch says that our next duty is the same as that of his friend Azem, to roam the world and learn about its countless civilizations. This gives plenty of theory material for the new expansions that Square Enix is cooking for the world of Final Fantasy XIV.
Azem, the Forgotten One
In 10 years of the plot, Azem is introduced almost down to the wire. Although there were brief mentions of their role during our adventures, it was only in Shadowbringer and Endwalker that we discovered what Azem meant and that we are a part of him. However, we may never know the person behind the title, the ancient one.
The patches released following Endwalker did not touch this subject any further, making room for another storyline and shirking Azem. During the Pandaemonium raid, Themis briefly mentioned them but refused to elaborate further. Themis claim he accepted our help because their friend, Azem, warned him that a guiding star was coming.
This led the community to create other theories, such as that Azem’s seat-holders had the Echo’s power to see into the future since both Venat and her protègè knew of the Warrior of Light’s coming to Elpis, and may or may not lead to another godlike power our protagonist will master.
Question: Is Azem the Warrior of Light?
Answer: I think the correct way would be to say that the Warrior of Light is Azem, or at least, his reincarnation. Like most Ascian, Azem’s soul was sundered and divided into fourteen by Hydaelyn. But when the Ascians began the Rejoining process, perhaps Azem’s soul was strengthened enough and could reincarnate in the spirit of the protagonist of Final Fantasy XIV. Therefore, the opposite is true for your question.
Question: Is Ardbert also Azem?
Answer: He is a part of Azem’s sundered soul and the reincarnation of the one bearing the title at the time after Venat summoned Hydaelyn and split both the Source and the ancients into fourteen pieces. Ardbert is relative to The First, a reflection of the Source and the closest to it.
Question: Are Venat and Azem the same?
Answer: Tricky question. If we’re talking about the Convocation of Fourteen title known as Azem, they, yes, for a time, Venat harbored that title, the name as well; thus, she was known as Azem. But if we’re talking about her successor, who inherited both the title and name Azem, they are different people. He was also one of the Warriors of Light in the First, which shows Venat has a soft spot for Azem’s reincarnation and no problem employing favoritism.
Azem, a Mystery Best Unsolved
In one of his many letters, Tolkien said something very intriguing about Tom Bombadil, the most enigmatic character in the entire Lord of the Rings series. The author stated that some things must remain mysterious in any narrative, “especially if an explanation really exists.”
It’s an interesting take that I firmly believe should be attached to Azem’s true identity. If our Warrior of Light is indeed one reflection of the Traveler’s reincarnation that gets stronger as more and more reflections rejoin the Source, Square Enix will have to tread Azem’s revelation carefully because expectations will be high for every single player.
Since our main character is distinctly customizable, Square will have to either disclose Azem as akin to each player’s avatar – which already happens considering the WoL’s gender – or something entirely disparate. The writers must be careful not to present someone who will make any player out there feel indifferent.
With Ardbert, Square was wise to add an avatar reminiscent of the cutscenes from FFXIV 1.0 and A Realm Reborn, considering he is the standard hero in Final Fantasy XIV promotional art. But we are the new Azem, so every player feels they belong to the game’s mythology. Or, who knows, maybe the best solution is to never unravel this mystery and let our imagination run wild for all eternity.