If you played Final Fantasy, you heard the name Highwind along the road – or sky. Usually bestowed as a surname for prominent dragoon characters, it was easy to identify a spear-wielding wyrm-slayer whenever the Highwind denomination landed. However, in Final Fantasy XIV, one of the most famous dragoons did not follow tradition. Albeit not carrying the Highwind surname legacy, this doesn’t make Estinien Varlineau less than a badass dragoon worthy of the moniker Wyrmblood.
I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn since its release and even ventured for about 5 hours into Final Fantasy XIV version 1.0 before my PC nearly imploded. By being a main Dragoon, I encountered Estinien before he became intertwined with the main plot of the critically acclaimed MMORPG.
I hated the guy and loved beating the crap out of him with my animation-locked jumps. But Square Enix was locked and loaded to prove me wrong, and they did, with Estinien’s character development.
Estinien “Wyrmblood” Varlineau becomes one of the central figures in the Heavensward expansion. He freelances for the Scions during the events of Shadowbringers and becomes a full-time employee and a member of the Trust System in Endwalker.
His evolution from a mere secondary antagonist to one of the most critical and plot-relevant supporting characters is further confirmation that storytelling in numbered Final Fantasy is consistently a masterpiece.
Being an NPC, we don’t play Estinien – except for a moment in the Main Quest against Ultima Arch. Therefore, there is no way to delve deep into his gameplay, attributes, and abilities. With that in mind, in this Estinien Varlineau guide, I will focus more on his involvement with the story and other narrative aspects.
Main Things You Should Know About Estinien
- Full Name: Estinien Varlineau.
- First Appearance: Final Fantasy XIV.
- Playable Character: Once, in a special event.
- Job Class: Dragoon.
- First Encountered: Dragoon Job questline or A Realm Reborn Main Scenario Quest.
- Weapon: Lance.
- Race: Elezen.
- Gender: Male.
- Skills: Dragoon Job actions, but inspired by Nidhoggs’ attacks.
- Characteristics: Estinien is a vengeance-driven character that redeems himself before being drought by his past.
- Personality: At first, a cold and intolerant nature. Later on, dry humor but still socially distant.
Estinien is a tall Elezen man whit shoulder-length white hair and dark eyes. He usually wears Dragoon artifact armor. The first time Estinien appears, he is donning the Drachen armor set dyed black.
It turns red after he mercilessly bathes himself in dragoon blood. In Stormblood, Estinien wears the Trueblood set with the standard dye, blue with golden embroidery, and no helmet. In Endwalker, after a funny scene where the dragoon reveals his inaptitude on finances, he starts to tie his hair.
Estinien can be seen in casual clothing in some leisure and out-of-combat scenes. One, in particular, is when you opt for him to visit your private chambers at Sharlayan. On this occasion, he’s wearing an indigo button-down shirt, tight black leather pants, and Scions’ usual black boots.
You can also arm yourself with Estinien’s Dragoon sets. The Drachen Armor set is a reward from the level 45 and 50 Dragoon job quests. You can craft or buy the Drachen Armor Augmentation to upgrade the Drachen set and dye it.
Estinien’s weapon is the Gae Bolg, the Dragoon relic weapon from A Realm Reborn. To obtain it, you need to complete the quest “The Ultimate Weapon,” start “The Weaponsmith of Legend” in Western Thalan, and follow through with the chain quest.
After the battle with Nidhogg, Estinien soaks in the dragon’s blood. His armor becomes blood-red, and later on, both Eyes protrude from the shoulder and arm. Part of the Gae Bolg gets the same color. The lance blade also gets some claw-like features. Later on, he names his weapon Nidhogg.
The second dragoon set that Estinien wears, Trueblood Set, is acquired by completing the level 70 Dragoon quest. You can’t dye it unless upgraded. To do so, you need to farm in the land of Eureka and deliver Protean Crystal to Gerolt. Due to the tedious grind, it’s the only Dragoon set I still haven’t upgraded. Estinien calls this armor Iceheart, a homage to Ysayle Dangoulain.
Driven by vengeance since his childhood didn’t help Estinien grow a pleasant or tolerant personality. He is generally rude, candid, and impatient with weak people who don’t contribute to his dragon-slaying mission.
While not overcome by his unrelenting rage against Nidhogg, Estinien can show care for the people of Ishgard, believing that his cause is noble if the result is the protection of the nation. Even at the expense and decimation of the entire draconic race.
After discovering what truly ignited the Dragonsong War and ending Niddhog, Estinien begins to shake off his bloodlust and becomes slightly more tolerant. Especially towards Alphinaud and the Warrior of Light, both saved him from a tragic fate.
Eventually, and more light-hearted, Estinien joins the Scions. Despite keeping a certain detachment from its members, he progressively loosens up with his dry humor and laid-back moments.
Estinien has a tale of loss, vengeance, retribution, and redemption. At the age of 12, his home village Ferndale was attacked by Nidhogg. Estinien lost his entire family but is saved by Alberic, the then Azure Dragoon, a title bestowed to the best of the best and wielder of the Eye of Nidhogg.
Alberic trained this boy, who cherished him despite resenting his master/foster father’s incapacity to protect his village from the assault. However, his master hid a secret that Estinien would only discover at the wrong time and moment.
The sheer focus and discipline built upon a hellbent revenge road turned Estinien into a formidable dragoon. It wasn’t long before he earned the nickname Azure Dragoon. However, all this pent-up hatred made him highly susceptible to the influence of the Eye and, consequently, to Nidhogg.
During the Dragoon questline, the Warrior of Light encounters Estinien, in possession of the Eye of Nidhogg. The eye resonates with the protagonist, and Estinien finds it strange but believes there is a reason why two Azure Dragoons live in the same era.
A bit bummer, if I may say so. I liked being considered unique and the strongest dragoon. But I digress. Estinien sees this as an opportunity for both to join forces and force Nidhogg’s demise.
The Warrior of Light will be trained by Alberic to become a dragoon so that he can help Estinien lure Nidhogg with his Eye and give him a fatality. After acquiring the Drachen Armor, the same one that Estinien wears, worthy of dragon-slayers, the Warrior of Light rendezvous with Estinien, who is alarmingly aggressive towards Alberic.
The Eye of Nidhogg showed him the truth of his past. It showed how Alberic hesitated when he went to defend Estinien’s village against Nidhogg for fear that he would be possessed by the elder wyrm’s influence. This pushed Alberic to abandon the power of the Eye. While he managed to scare Nidhogg away, the destruction had already been done.
Estinien feels betrayed and raises his lance against Alberic. The Warrior of Light intervenes and defeats the Azure Dragoon in a solo duel – that is, if you play your cards right. A deep voice communicates with Estinien.
It’s Nidhogg, and the dragoon feels pushed to ask his archenemy for help. Nidhogg’s influence begins to intervene through the dragon’s eye and fill Estinien with power. But before his draconic battery is complete, the spirit of Haldrath, the first dragoon, appears in the Warrior of Light and, with a fireworks-filled jump, causes Estinien to vanish into thin air.
The Dragonsong War
If you haven’t finished the Dragoon questline and don’t know Estinien, you will meet him for the first time during the Main Story. Which is both good and bad. If you’ve played dragoon, the dialogues change a bit; starting the Dragoon questline but not finishing it causes Estinien to just recognize you; completing the level 50 dragoon quest, he knows your potential as a fellow Azure Dragoon.
Still, the fact that he was almost possessed by an elder wyrm and spontaneously disappeared is pretty much ignored, making the whole experience of playing Heavensward as Dragoon bittersweet.
But anyways. When the Warrior of Light goes to aid Aymeric against the invasions of the Dravanian Horde, the knight says that we will have reinforcement from the Azure Dragoon, the highest authority among dragoons. Again, if you are also the Azure Dragoon, it’s ok to feel ignored. The main story wasn’t tailored to consider our dragoon feelings.
Estinien enters the scene and says that he will help both in the defense against Dravanian Horde and in the capture of Lady Iceheart, the leader of the heretics – humanoid allies to the dragons. Later on, in the battle at Steps of Faith against Vishap, Estinien can’t help but notice Nidhogg’s absence and decides to act on his own.
In the course of the events in Heavensward, while trying to peacefully negotiate with Iceheart to cease dragon attacks on Ishgard, Estinien finds out that we will meet with her and goes along. Despite some barbs trading, he behaves himself for the most part.
Ysale, Iceheart’s name, takes us to encounter Hraesvelgr, Nidhogg’s brother, and he tells us the truth about the Dragonsong War. Even though the guilt lies at the core of the Holy See and the dragons do not deserve the gratuitous violence that Ishgard has been offering them for all these years, everyone present agrees that Nidhogg is beyond reasoning and his death is the only solution to end the war. Estinien is happy as a child at Christmas with this decision.
The truth about the Dragonsong War didn’t help quelch Estinien’s thirst for Nidhogg’s blood. On the contrary, it seems to have heightened his desire. This reveals that although he protected Ishgard as a dragoon in all the offensives of the Dravanian Horde, his heart was in the wrong place.
It was not out of heroism or selflessness but always in the eagerness to find and slay his nemesis. This made me dislike Estinien in those moments of the main plot. Vengeance-driven character is a common thing in storytelling. But the appeal starts to fade when they become unduly headstrong and obsessive.
After crossing the dungeon the Aery, Estinien awaits you to confront Nidhogg while weakening him with the power of the Eye. Nidhogg tries to influence Estinien again (or for the first time, if you haven’t played the dragoon questline) but to no avail.
The dragoon then leaps at Nidhogg, who takes flight while having a spear stuck in the back of his head. With a Machiavellian smile, Estinien strikes Nidhogg’s single eye and tears him apart. Estinien is bathed in the blood from the wound and dyes his Drachen Mail and Gae Bolg crimson red.
Nidhogg falls from grace into the abyss and disappears. Estinien can’t help but notice that the eye he just took is different from Nidhogg’s and wonder where his true eye lies, wandering off to Ishgard to share tales of triumph and truth.
The Eyes of Nidhogg
After the Warrior of Light tells Aymeric the truth behind the Dragonsong War, the knight decides to confront the Holy See but is arrested for treason. Estinien helps the Warrior of Light in the events that transpire next, saving Aymeric, invading Azys Lla, and dethroning Archbishop Thordan.
In the clash against Thordan, they discover that the Archbishop used Nidhogg’s right eye to turn into a primal. With his defeat, Estinien gets the second eye back and promises to hide them so that no one else will ever abuse their power.
But in this moment of comfort and mission accomplished, Estinien lets his guard down. Nidhogg uses the opportunity to impose his will on the dragoon, who cannot bear it and surrenders body and mind to the elder wyrm before turning into him and flying away.
At a victory ceremony, where Aymeric meets with Vidofnir to define the end of the Dragonsong War and peace between humans and dragons, Estinien, possessed by Nidhogg, crashes the party and Vidofnir’s back with his lance.
Both of Nidhogg’s eyes are merged with his Drachen Mail. One in his arm and the other in the shoulder – nasty stuff. The crimson red Azure Dragoon proclaims in Nidhogg’s guttural timbre that he won’t forget the past and will thwart anyone who wishes to end the war.
The peaceful resolution turns into a populace riot. The Warrior of Light feels compelled to finish off Nidhogg/Estinien once and for all before the war gets off track again.
Before facing the elder wyrm, we witness an awesome cutscene of the clash between Nidhogg and Hraesvelgr. Although the latter loses, he gives his eye to the Warrior of Light, who uses this power to confront Nidhogg and win.
Estinien manages to take control of his body briefly after the Warrior of Light defeats Nidhogg and begs them and Alphinaud to kill him to finish off the elder wyrm. Alphinaud objects and tries to remove the Eyes from the armor.
The Warrior of Light tries the same, and the efforts of both seem in vain until the spirit of Ysayle and Harchefaunt appear and assist them. Ultimately the removal is a success, Estinien is saved, and Nidhogg is destroyed. They throw Nidhogg’s eyes into the abyss of the Steps of Faith.
Estinien gets injured and bedridden but is expected to make a full recovery. He says he’s noticed how unbridled revenge has blinded him. Had it not been for the power of friendship, he would have become like Nidhogg.
Estinien forsakes the title of Azure Dragoon – legitimately granting it to you if you have done the level 50 Dragoon quest – and, once recovered, pays tribute to the graves of Ysayle and Ratatoskr.
Hraesvelgr observes Estinien and says that his fight is not yet over, bestowing the Trueblood armor set upon the dragoon. Estinien names his armor Iceheart in honor of Ysayle and prepares for his next adventure.
Aiding from the Shadows
Estinien disappears for a good while and reappears to help the Warrior of Light at occasional moments. His first appearance is while he’s searching for the Eyes of Nidhogg, used to create the primal Shinryu. The second arrival is when the Resistance plans to attack the fortress Castrum Abania.
The fortress fires at Specula Imperatoris, a tower recently seized by the Resistance. The tower’s destruction causes several deaths among the Resistance, and while people mourn, Castrum Abania readies another shot. At this moment, Estinien appears and, with a stellar jump, destroys the cannon single-handedly.
After this, if you are doing the dragoon’s Stormblood questline, you will encounter Estinien at the level 70 quest. While helping the whelp Orn Khai find Faunehm, Estinien emerges. He claims to be assisting the dragons of Ishgard in a mission to hunt down Faunehm.
But Estinien opts for peaceful means and suggests that Orn Khai use his cry to destroy Nidhogg’s angry influence on his mother, Faunehm. It doesn’t work, and the three faces Faunehm. With the wyrm weakened, she’s confronted by Vedrfolnir, Orn Khai’s father, and retains control of herself.
Orn Khai thanks both the Warrior of Light and Estinien, giving them the Crimson Dragoon title. Estinien leaves again, satisfied with his new moniker. It’s interesting to see how Estinien is more coolheaded and resorts to less aggressive means. But keep in mind you’ll only see this if you are playing a dragoon, as this may go unnoticed by any other job.
Our dragoon-model-man disappears for a while again and resurfaces after we defeat Shinryu Zenos. He finds the Eyes of Nidhoggs in the garden after the clash. He destroys them, finally ending Nidhogg’s unquenchable rage.
Then, after the Warrior of Light takes a beating from an Elidibus-possessed Zenos, Aymeric explains we were saved by someone who doesn’t usually stand around for thanks, and the game shows us the silhouette of Estinien.
The Black Wolf and The Azure Dragoon
It doesn’t take long for Estinien to start formally helping the Scions after a friendly and nearly harmless request – if you disregard the blackmailing – from Tataru. His first mission is to investigate the Black Rose weapon.
While he breaks into a facility responsible for producing the bioweapon, he comes across Gaius Baelsar. A temporary alliance is formed with the two aiming for the same objective.
Black Wolf and Azure/Crimson Dragoon then break into the Imperial Palace in search of more information about the Black Rose. Lo and behold, they come across Zenos committing patricide. The prince is happy to face two notoriously mighty warriors but easily overpowers both, despite the almost choreographed synchronicity of the two in combat.
Imperial Garleans invade the royal chambers, and the scene leads them to believe that Gaius and Estinien have murdered Varis. Overwhelmed by enemy forces, both attempt to escape. At this point, we control Estinien in-game. After facing Arch Ultima, Wolf and Dragoon say goodbye and part ways.
Estinien then returns to the Rising Stone to report the events to Tataru. She tries to convince him to help the Scions further, considering that they are in an ethereal sleep after being transported to another world.
He declines, saying he has a matter to take care of, and leaves. In the meantime, the plot revolves around dragons, and from what you’ve seen, this is the trigger for Estinien to show up. When Lunar Bahamut appears, and the Warrior of Light and the Scions go to visit Tiamat seeking information, Estinien joins the party.
In the fight at Paglth’an, Tiamat and Estinien strike hard at Lunar Bahamut, setting him up for a beating by the Warrior of Light. After this epic clash, Estinien finally gives in and officially joins the Scions.
Estinien, a Scion of Seventh Dawn
In Endwalker, when Estinien becomes a legitimate member of the Scions, we see an evolution of his character utterly free from his past. The dragoon remains a bit reclusive and antisocial, but his dry humor becomes more evident. Estinien exhibits his relaxed and casual demeanor most often with Alphinaud, whom he discreetly treats like a younger brother.
The events of Endwalker take us to Thavnair, and Estinien decides to accompany us since he already went through the region when he invaded Garlemald. Several amusing situations assail the man, such as his inability to deal and manage money and Hannish alchemists wanting to use him as a guinea pig for research. Or rather, his spear.
When we go to Radz-at-Han, Estinien recognizes the ruse of Vrtra – the true ruler of Radz-at-Han, offspring of Midgardsormr, and brother to Nidhogg. Estinien understands Vrtra’s reasons for keeping himself hidden and bears no ill towards the dragon.
Estinien becomes a Trust member in Endwalker. We can include the dragoon in our party to clear the dungeons only with NPCs. As a Scion, he helps the Scions invade the Tower of Zot, saving the kidnapped Arkasodaras. He scouts the icy fields of Garlemald alongside Thancred’s scout party and assists in the invasion of the Tower of Babil.
After the Warrior of Light eliminates Zodiark and secures a replay of Final Days, Estinien goes to Thavnair to help the region and its residents fend off the blasphemies.
In an incredibly epic scene worthy of the Endwalker trailer, Estinien rides on Vrtra, and both dragoon and dragon band together, becoming a force of nature. Estinien also suggests to the elder wyrm that he reveal himself to his subjects of Radz-at-Han. The audience reacted positively to the revelation of the dragon’s secret.
Job Quest Contradiction
Some job questlines in Final Fantasy XIV become a bit convoluted if you do them after some events. For instance, at a certain point, you are hailed as the Warrior of Light, Champion of Eorzea, the best employee of the month, and so on. Bottom line: everyone knows who you are.
But if you want to level some level 1 class, the quest givers will treat you as if you were a wet behind the ear adventurer. In a way, this is comprehensible. It’s more challenging to consider and retcon all plotholes based on your progression within the game’s main story than simply assuming that such events happened canonically before you became a hero.
However, the Dragoon job questline is one of the few where such plotholes become crazy evident. For those who played version 1.0, you notice this early on. Although the lore of the first version is canonical in A Realm Reborn, many job quests were just reused in a copy and paste style.
The Dragoon questline is one of these. From the moment you meet Estinien, practically everything that happens, even the dialogs, are the same in both versions. Ok, considering that they are two different games, you can overlook it.
But the thing gets tricky when you play the Main Story of Heavensward and see Estinien being possessed by Nidhogg, all macabre and bloodlusting. If you suddenly feel like leveling up a dragoon in the middle of Heavenswarnd, you find a pre-crazy-eyes Estinien treating you like a total stranger.
Again, it is understandable, although slightly frustrating. So heads up if you are someone who has finished the Main Story of Final Fantasy XIV and decided to play Lancer/Dragoon. Go with the expectation that all events are before the Ultima Weapon, and everything will fit right in.
Question: Can you play with Estinien?
Answer: Yeah, you can. In the Main Quest, “Vows of Virtue, Deeds of Cruelty,” you control Estinien as he and Gaius invade a Garlean facility. You quickly dispose of some trash mobs with a Dragoon’s regular AoE combo, but when facing Arch Ultima, Estinien has a unique skill set. Three of his skills are named after Nidhogg’s skills. Ala Morn, Drachenlance, and Horrid Roar. The Stardiver is a level 80 Dragoon skill, and Estinien’s Limit Break, Dragonshadow Dive, is his signature move.
Question: Does Alphinaud love Estinien?
Answer: I know where you are coming from, and it doesn’t make this question less weird- stop this ship before it’s too late! But in-game, if Estinien does love, it’s what we call a brotherly love. Estinien and Alphinaud are full of shenanigans. You see how comfortable Estinien is with Alphinaud.
This is probably because Estinien had a younger brother in childhood, who unfortunately died in the Nidhogg invasion. He may be projecting his brother onto Alphinaud and treats him as such, while Alphinaud sees him as a role model of endurance and persistence.
Question: Is Nidhogg inside Estinien?
Answer: After the events in Heavensward where you fight Nidhogg at the Steps of Faith, not anymore. Although he’s named his abilities analogous to those of the Elder Wyrm, he no longer has the power of his eyes, which were destroyed after the fight against Zenos Shinryu.
Estinien has one of the best character arcs and development in Final Fantasy XIV. It helps that he is a focal point of one of the game’s best expansions, Heavensward. As I’ve annoyingly said several times, I met him before the main plot by playing a dragoon, so I feel like he and I have a special bond.
However, just as it’s easy to dislike Estinien in his first few appearances, accompanying his redemption arc leaves you with a soft heart, and it’s hard not to give him a second chance. I can clearly say that he is my favorite dragoon in the entire Final Fantasy franchise. I mean, the second one! I am my favorite dragoon.