The story of Final Fantasy XII takes place in the land of Ivalice hundreds of years after Dynast King Raithwall united its warring kingdoms in the Galtean Alliance. It follows the street urchin Vaan who becomes embroiled in a quest to save the occupied kingdom of his homeland, Dalmasca, from a war that seems imminent.
The Kingdom of Dalmasca is a small city-state in the world of Ivalice, a neutral party in the past wars between the neighboring Empires of Archadia and Rozarria. To strengthen the kingdom's status between the Empires Dalmasca had its heir to the throne, Princess Ashe, marry Prince Rasler of the neighboring small kingdom of Nabradia so that the two kingdoms could stand as one against Imperial oppression. Despite the marriage's political nature the prince and the princess were in love.
The couple's happiness was short-lived, as Archadia moved to invade Nabradia to steal its royal heirloom passed down from the Dynast King Raithwall: the magickal stone Midlight Shard. In a mysterious event the entire capital of Nabradia, Nabudis, was reduced to ashes, and Archadia advanced toward Dalmasca. Rasler led the Dalmascan army against the Empire at the Battle of Nalbina Fortress, but its paling fell and the prince was struck by an arrow and killed, his body taken away by the captain of the Order of the Knights of Dalmasca, Basch fon Ronsenburg. The fortress was lost and Rasler was buried in Rabanastre, the crown city of Dalmasca.
Dalmasca was conquered by Archadia and to be reduced to the status of an occupied state when its King Raminas would sign the kingdom into Imperial rule, seeing no other way to save his people. Rumors spread that the treaty-signing was but a ruse to murder the king, and Captain Basch led the remains of the Order of the Knights to save him. Among his force were Vossler York Azelas, Basch's old friend, and the young soldier Reks.
Reks was separated from the others, and as he caught up he found the king and the other knights of the order killed with only Basch still standing. Basch stabbed Reks, and gloated he murdered the king for his betrayal. Basch was captured by an Imperial official, the Emperor's son Vayne Carudas Solidor, and Reks's witness testimonial was used to prosecute him for high treason. The mortally-wounded Reks stayed at a hospital where he was looked over by his younger brother, Vaan, until becoming increasingly unresponsive before passing away.
Marquis Ondore, head of the neutral skycity Bhujerba, announced the King's daughter, Ashe, had committed suicide and that Basch had been executed for high treason. With both King Raminas and his daughter Ashe dead, Dalmasca was left without a ruler and became governed by the Archadian Empire.
Two years later, Reks's younger brother, Vaan, an orphaned street urchin living in the Dalmascan capital Rabanastre, wants to steal treasure from the Archadian Consul's residence in the old Royal Palace of Rabanastre to take back Dalmasca's riches he deems were stolen by the Empire. With help from Old Dalan of the lowtown slums, Vaan infiltrates the palace during a fête set up to commemorate Dalmasca's new Consul sent from the Imperial capital, the Emperor Gramis Gana Solidor's son Vayne Solidor.
While looting the treasury Vaan comes across the Goddess's Magicite hidden inside a statue, and meets Balthier, a sky pirate bent on stealing the Consul's treasures, and his companion Fran, a viera warrior. Balthier demands Vaan's treasure, but Vaan wants to keep his find and makes his escape.
The underground Dalmascan Resistance movement assaults the royal palace in a military coup to remove the Consul. Vayne was expecting this and had the Imperial forces ready. As the Resistance forces engage with the Imperials on the palace courtyard an Imperial airship Ifrit blasts apart the Resistance forces and opens a gash on the ground. Balthier, Fran and Vaan escape on Balthier's hoverbike, but the Goddess's Magicite Vaan had pilfered from the treasury saps the bike's skystone of power and they crash-land into the Garamsythe Waterway, the city's sewer system that was exposed during the attack from Ifrit.
Though Balthier still wants Vaan's treasure, the three decide on a temporary truce as they look for a way out of the sewers. They meet the leader of the Resistance, Amalia, separated from her companion Vossler, retreating through the sewers after the failed attack on the Consul. Vaan and the others help her escape although she detests their thievery from the palace.
The group is captured by the Imperial Guard led by Vayne under the assumption they are thieves, and Amalia is escorted away. Vaan, Balthier and Fran are to be sent to the Nalbina Dungeons, and as Vaan's childhood friend Penelo sees Vaan being escorted away in chains, she runs to the group. She is halted by Balthier who wants to avoid a scene and promises to bring Vaan back safely. Nearby a group of bounty hunters notes the guard capturing their mark, Balthier, and his interaction with this girl, Penelo.
In the Nalbina Dungeons Fran senses there is a way out. As a viera she is keen to the scent of Mist, and locates a leak somewhere in the dungeon that suggests an opening to a cave system, but the way deeper into the dungeons is blocked off. After Balthier and Vaan battle the seeq dungeon masters, an Archadian Judge Magister Gabranth enters and allows the bounty hunter Ba'Gamnan search the prisoners for Balthier. To avoid Ba'Gamnan Vaan, Balthier and Fran follow Gabranth and gain access to the deepest reaches of the dungeon, recovering their weapons and other belongings on the way.
In the dungeon's deepest area they find Gabranth confronting an emaciated Basch fon Ronsenburg, mocking his disgrace. Basch asks how long they intend to keep him locked up, but Gabranth claims they need Basch as collateral to keep Marquis Ondore in line. As Gabranth removes his helmet, Vaan's group spies he has the same facial features as Basch. After Gabranth leaves Fran points the deep pit below Basch's suspended cage as "the way out." Vaan recognizes the king-slayer responsible for Dalmasca's downfall and jumps onto his cage, yelling at Basch. This rouses the nearby guards and Fran asks everyone to jump onto the cage as she drops it into the pit for an escape route.
The fall breaks the cage and Basch is freed. The four have ended up in an abandoned mine in the Barheim Passage. Basch asks to accompany the others as another swordarm and explains he was framed as the king-slayer by his twin brother Gabranth and Vayne to strip Dalmasca of sovereignty, by having the former slay the king while posing as Basch. The four escape the Barheim Passage back to Rabanastre where they part ways.
Balthier and Fran decide to move on after enjoying a drink at a local tavern. Basch sets out to meet with the local Resistance, and Vaan decides to look for Penelo and show Old Dalan the treasure he got from the palace. He can't find Penelo, but Old Dalan has already heard a certain Basch fon Ronsenburg has returned from the dead and asks Vaan to deliver the sword of the old order to Vossler of the Resistance to remind him of the pact he and Basch once shared as comrades in arms.
Vaan comes to the Resistance hideout amid an argument between Vossler and Basch. The past two years Vossler has looked after Amalia alone as the two started the local Resistance, and he has become paranoid and no longer trusts Basch despite his insistence on being innocent. Vaan yells out that Reks was no liar, to which Basch affirms Reks was the perfect witness needed to frame him. Amalia has been taken by the Empire and Basch wants to help rescue her, but is unable to convince Vossler. Basch asks Vaan to take him to Balthier to request passage to Bhujerba on Balthier's airship, as being a known king-slayer travel by commercial airship could prove risky. Basch wants to go to Bhujerba to talk to its leader Marquis Ondore, who is a secret Resistance sympathizer although superficially allied with the Empire.
Vaan and Basch find Balthier and Fran from the Sandsea tavern, being accosted by Vaan and Penelo's "guardian" Migelo who blames Balthier for Penelo's kidnapping. The bangaa headhunter Ba'Gamnan and his group, who are looking for Balthier, kidnapped Vaan's best friend Penelo under the assumption she has a connection with Balthier who would thus come to her aid. Vaan begs Balthier to take him to Bhujerba so he can save his friend promising the Goddess's Magicite as payment. Balthier reluctantly agrees to help and takes everyone to his airship, the Strahl. Vaan is excited as his dream is to become a sky pirate one day.
Balthier, Fran, Vaan and Basch fly to Bhujerba to free Penelo who is being kept captive in the local Lhusu Mines where Ba'Gamnan's gang has a hideout. They meet a boy introducing himself as Lamont, who overhears the four are heading to the mines and asks to accompany them. Balthier is suspicious but lets him come along. Inside the mines they spy Judge Magister Ghis, whose Dreadnought Leviathan is currently docked at the skycity, inspecting the mines with Marquis Ondore.
The party comes to a site of magicite excavation, a magickal mineral that keeps the sky continent afloat over Ivalice. Lamont pulls out a piece of manufacted nethicite, a blue crystal, that reacts to the local magicite confirming his suspicions: the Lhusu Mines are providing magicite to the Draklor Laboratory in Archades for secret research on manufacted nethicite behind Emperor Gramis's back, likely via machinations by Vayne and Dr. Cidolfus Demen Bunansa, the Empire's leading nethicite researcher. As a surprise to Lamont Balthier recognizes the piece as manufacted nethicite and demands to know where he got it from. They are interrupted by Ba'Gamnan and his gang. Vaan calls for Penelo, but Ba'Gamnan has already let her go, and attacks the party. During the commotion Lamont escapes, urging the others to follow.
After getting rid of Ba'Gamnan, the party finds Judge Ghis has captured Penelo, furious to have discovered an outsider wandering the mines full of Empire's secrets. "Lamont" recognizes Penelo as the girl Vaan and the others were at the mines to rescue, and comes to her aid. Ghis is left dumbfounded as Lamont escorts Penelo to Marquis Ondore's estate as his guest. The others follow the exchange from the shadows, and Balthier explains Lamont is none other than Larsa Ferrinas Solidor, the younger brother to Vayne, and the Emperor's son and thus second in line for the throne of Archadia. Larsa is staying at the Marquis's estate under the pretense of a holiday, but his true intention is to travel Ivalice and discern its political situation, as although Larsa is young he is interested in the world affairs.
Vaan spreads rumors of Basch still being alive to discredit the Marquis and catch the local Resistance's attention to gain an audience with Ondore. The ploy works and Vaan and his friends are brought to the Marquis. Vaan asks for Penelo, but she has already left: she has gone onboard the Imperial flagship Dreadnought Leviathan as Larsa's guest. Basch tells the Marquis Amalia is being held captive onboard by Judge Ghis, and Ondore would like to see her saved, but getting personally involved would compromise Bhujerba's position. Thus he "captures" Basch, Vaan, Balthier and Fran and has them sent to Judge Ghis onboard the Leviathan under the pretense of helping the Empire catch the Nalbina Dungeon escapees, but his true motivation is to have Basch and the others save Amalia.
Basch, Vaan, Balthier and Fran are brought to Ghis and find him with "Amalia," who is revealed to be Princess Ashe. Ashe recognizes Basch as the king-slayer and is angered he is still alive. Basch wants to trade their freedom for the location of the royal heirloom, a piece of deifacted nethicite called the Dusk Shard, but Ashe objects. The Goddess's Magicite in Vaan's pocket begins to shine in Ashe's presence, revealing itself as the Dusk Shard, an heirloom of the Dynast-King that points the Dynast-King's kin as the rightful heir. Ghis is delighted the party has delivered the nethicite right to the Empire's hands and seizes the Dusk Shard from Vaan much to Ashe's frustration.
They are imprisoned with Ashe quartered separately, but freed by Vossler who has apparently had a change of heart and come to their aid in an Imperial disguise. Joined by Vossler, the party searches the Leviathan for Ashe's cell and frees her. She is still angered by Basch's presence, but he swears his innocence and loyalty to Dalmasca and thus, to her. As they look for an exit the reassembled party runs into Larsa and Penelo, who have befriended during the time they have spent together. Larsa is keen to see a peaceful resolution to the conflict, and believes he could convince his father, the Emperor, to allow Ashe reclaim Dalmasca if she will ally with the Empire. Thus he decides to aid the party's escape, and gives Penelo his piece of manufacted nethicite as a "good luck charm" and memento of their meeting. The true reason of Larsa's gifting of the nethicite may be that he doesn't want to be caught with it, seeing that he has likely had it stolen from the Draklor Laboratories.
The party heads for an exit but runs into Judge Ghis who hurls magick at them that is absorbed by Penelo's piece of manufacted nethicite. After being in awe of the nethicite's power, the party defeats Ghis and escapes on a carrier ship piloted by Balthier back to Bhujerba with Vossler remaining behind to secure their escape entrusting Ashe's protection in Basch's hands.
Back in Bhujerba the group has another meeting with the Marquis. Ashe wants to expand the small Resistance she and Vossler started back in Rabanastre to create a force strong enough to reclaim Dalmasca, and thus wants the Marquis's aid. Although Ondore, actually Ashe's uncle, is glad his plan to have her saved worked, he is not ready to join the Resistance. Ondore points out that even if Ashe had the means to go to war against the Empire, now that the Dusk Shard has been lost she has no means of proving her identity as the rightful heir to Dalmasca's throne. Ondore wants Ashe to stay with him for her safety while he continues with his own machinations against the Empire, but Ashe knows Ondore will prioritize Bhujerba over Dalmasca and is not content with sitting aside and waiting while her kingdom suffers.
Ashe requests Balthier's aid in retrieving another proof of her royal blood: the Dawn Shard, one of the pieces of deifacted nethicite the Dynast-King wielded to unite Ivalice in the Galtean Alliance hundreds of years ago. While Raithwall gave two of the pieces away to the ruling houses of the kingdoms of Dalmasca and Nabradia, the third shard was buried with him to the Tomb of Raithwall with the knowledge of its existence passed down in his royal lineage.
The party heads to the Dynast-King's tomb on foot, as it is located on a jagd and thus impassable on an airship. They run into Vossler who has escaped the Leviathan and wants to join their cause, even if he detests traveling with sky pirates who are only aiding Ashe for the promises of King Raithwall's treasure. To Balthier's dismay Raithwall's treasure turns out to be the control of the Esper Belias, and naught of monetary value.
As Ashe claims the Dawn Shard she is met by a ghostly apparition of her late husband, Rasler. The party exits the tomb only to discover Dreadnought Leviathan and the rest of Ghis's fleet waiting for them as a result of Vossler having alerted them. As proof of the might of the Empire's manufacted nethicite, they can fly airships even on the jagd.
Ashe is furious at Vossler's betrayal, who has come to believe opposition is futile, and acquiescence the only way to save Dalmasca from further harm. The party is again brought before Ghis who takes the Dawn Shard from Ashe, gleeful the party has again done the work for the Empire in delivering them with deifacted nethicite. Ghis has the party taken away in chains, but succumbs to delusions of grandeur before the stone's power. Ghis plans to use the stone to take over the Empire, and has its power evaluated by placing the Dawn Shard in the engine of the Leviathan. The engine overheats as Mist—the ephemeral magickal power of Ivalice—flows from the stone.
The Mist effusing from the Dawn Shard drives Fran into a frenzy and she breaks free from her shackles and attacks their captors. The others free themselves as well, but as they make for the exit they are stopped by Vossler whom the party is forced to defeat. In his final words Vossler asks for Basch to look after Ashe, and as the party escapes on another carrier ship, the Dawn Shard in the Leviathan's engine explodes destroying the entire fleet. As the Leviathan falls the party escapes riding the blast wave, but as they spot the Dawn Shard glimmering midair in the center of the explosion they turn back to retrieve it.
After witnessing the Archadian Eighth Fleet destroyed by the power of the Dawn Shard, Ashe decides to wield it as her weapon against the Empire, as even if the Resistance movement she had started was lost when Vossler became a turncoat, she now possessed a weapon of seemingly unimaginable power. As she doesn't know how to use the now lusterless Dawn Shard Fran suggests they head for Jahara, the village of the garif knowledgeable on magicite lore. Ashe asks Balthier to accompany her, but he demands a ring on her finger as down payment until he comes across a better treasure.
In Jahara the garif tell Ashe they cannot be of help due to the stone eluding even their ancestors. The garif chief tells Ashe the Dawn Shard has lost its power, as the Mist it inhabited has been released making the Dawn Shard useless as a weapon. They meet Larsa who has come to persuade Ashe to join both him and another mysterious ally at Mt Bur-Omisace to prevent the imminent war between the nation-states of Ivalice. Larsa explains his plan for Ashe to gain the Gran Kiltias Anastasis's blessing to assume the throne of Dalmasca, and then propose peace to the Empire. The idea of making peace with the Empire that stole everything from her repulses Ashe, but she sees no other way to help her kingdom.
That night Ashe talks with Vaan who reveals he also saw an apparition the moment Ashe claimed the Dawn Shard from the Tomb of Raithwall, although he thought it looked like his late brother. The two decide to conceal the ghostly encounter from the others. Vaan explains that helping Ashe reclaim Dalmasca is his way of stopping running away from his problems.
Disgraced by the Eighth Fleet's destruction, Vayne is called back to Archadia. He begins to suspect his father and the Imperial Senate will bypass him for Emperor, giving the throne to his brother Larsa instead, whom the Senate sees as suspect to manipulation due to his youth. Gramis is of failing health, and the question of his succession is to come up soon. Gramis tasks Judge Gabranth to spy on Vayne to discern his true intentions. The Judge Magisters know Larsa is not easily manipulated, and once the Senate realizes this he may be in danger of being assassinated. Judge Magister Drace and Gabranth talk the matter over and decide to protect Lord Larsa for the stability of the nation.
Ashe decides to trust Larsa and he joins her party on their passage to Mt Bur-Omisace, the center of the Kiltia faith. While passing through the Golmore Jungle their path is barred by magickal barriers set by the viera. Fran unveils the viera settlement of Eruyt Village, telling the others she is an exile and the viera will not be happy to see her, but her younger sister Mjrn may be able to help. In the village Fran's other sister, Jote, claims Mjrn is not there, and tells Fran to ask the Wood for her whereabouts. Fran has spent too long away from the viera homeland and her kin no longer consider her a true viera as she cannot hear the green word. Jote despises yet pities Fran for her fall, and states the Wood says Mjrn is at the local magicite mine.
The party travels to the Henne Mines, another of the Empire's sites of magicite research, and finds the local researchers slain. Larsa becomes agitated at the sight and wants to investigate the matter. They find Fran's sister Mjrn deep in the mines acting strangely, holding a piece of manufacted nethicite being possessed by a shadow with glowing eyes. When Mjrn drops the nethicite it breaks, releasing her. As Fran rushes to her sister, Mjrn explains she left the Wood to explore the world but was captured and asked to hold a piece of manufacted nethicite to test its effect on a viera. Larsa asks Penelo to return the piece of manufacted nethicite he had given to her earlier, apologizing for not realizing the danger.
Back in Eruyt Village Mjrn is reunited with her kin. Fran asks her to not follow her example and leave the Wood as it only leads to a life of loneliness. Jote gives Fran the Lente's Tear to dispel the jungle's magickal barriers and asks her to never return.
Reaching Mt Bur-Omisace the party speaks to the Gran Kiltias and meets Larsa's secret ally, Al-Cid Margrace from the ruling house of Rozarria. Although Al-Cid is but one of the many nobles of the ruling class, Larsa hopes that securing his allegiance would help normalize the relations between the nations if Al-Cid could help Rozarria recognize Ashe as the Queen of Dalmasca. All hope for a peaceful resolution is dashed when it is learned Vayne has murdered his father and dissolved the Senate, making him the dictator of Archadia, as Vayne would never allow Ashe claim Dalmasca peacefully.
The murder of the late Emperor was blamed on the Senate, giving Vayne pretense of disbanding it. Among the Judge Magisters only Drace opposed Vayne's ruthlessness, and as she sought to arrest him for high treason, the other Judges turned against her. Vayne, knowing Gabranth had been spying on him on Gramis's orders, tested his loyalty by ordering him to execute Drace for turning her blade on the Imperial Lord Sovereign. As Gabranth hesitated Drace quietly asked him to kill her, and to protect Lord Larsa who will have no one should Gabranth be lost as well.
Ashe decides that going to war with the Empire is the only way. As much has become apparent to Ondore as well, who has departed to assemble a Resistance, stepping down as Marquis under pretense of ailing health. As long as Vayne holds the Dusk Shard, however, they will have little chance against the Empire, having witnessed first hand what deifacted nethicite can do. The Gran Kiltias tells Ashe of another of Raithwall's treasures, the Sword of Kings that can destroy nethicite, hidden in the Stilshrine of Miriam to be overlooked by the Gran Kiltias as a neutral party.
Leaving Larsa behind at Mt Bur-Omisace the party sets out to retrieve the sword. They find it from the depths of the shrine, but as Ashe attempts to test its might against the lusterless Dawn Shard, Rasler's apparition stays her hand. When Ashe later asks Vaan about it however, he didn't see anything. Rasler's ghostly visit convinces Ashe the sword is genuine, and they return to Mt Bur-Omisace and find it decimated by the Empire.
Vayne's envoys—Judge Magisters Bergan, Zargabaath and Gabranth—were dispatched to pick up Larsa and capture Ashe. While Gabranth had Judge Zargabaath take Larsa to Archades, an enraged Bergan killed the holy man Gran Kiltias Anastasis and bombed Mt Bur-Omisace. The party confronts him and discovers he has been augmented by the power of manufacted nethicite, and been driven mad as a result like Mjrn had. Bergan appears with the shadow with glowing eyes, but despite his enhanced powers he is killed, his nethicite-infused body exploding.
Ashe and her party decide to destroy the Empire's nethicite with the Sword of Kings to level the sides for the upcoming war and head for the Draklor Laboratory in Archades to destroy the Dusk and Midlight Shards in the possession of Dr. Cid, Balthier's father. While resting at the Phon Coast Hunters' Camp Balthier tells Ashe of his relation to Dr. Cid. Years ago Cid traveled to Jagd Difohr, but upon his return was never the same again. Seemingly having gone mad, Cid kept talking to thin air about bringing the reins of history back to the hands of man. Unable to bear the sight of his raving father, Balthier had cast aside his privileged family name and his position as a Judge to become a sky pirate. Balthier warns Ashe of letting the power of the stone consume her like it did his father.
They reach Archades and gain access to the city's upper levels with the "help" of Balthier's old acquaintance Jules. They storm the lab but find it void of guards. They find Cid's office in a mess, and run into Reddas, a rogue sky pirate on a mission same as theirs, and the reason for the lack of guards. They team up with him and confront Cid. At first Cid doesn't know who they are, but after listening to a voice only he can hear he points Ashe out as the Princess. They attack Cid but he is protected by the shadow with the glowing eyes he calls Venat. Cid escapes on a small airship with the pieces of deifacted nethicite, saying he is heading for Giruvegan, the ancient city from where it all started. Balthier realizes that Cid hadn't gone mad, but when it appeared he was talking to himself he was, in fact, speaking to the "shadow" Venat.
Reddas takes the party to Balfonheim Port, the port town of pirates of sky and sea variety alike. Reddas is a mysterious man as no one knows of his past, only that he showed up at Balfonheim one day and united the pirates, becoming the town's governor. The only thing he reveals of himself is that he wishes to see all nethicite in Ivalice destroyed. Reddas had been visited by Marquis Ondore during the latter's quest to assemble the Resistance, fueling Ashe's determination to catch Cid and destroy his nethicite.
In Jagd Difohr the party comes to an impassable wall of Mist in the Feywood, but Rasler's apparition quells it. Everyone but Ashe is perplexed. They find the gate to Giruvegan and summon the Esper Belias to open it. In the city center they discover the Great Crystal where the Occuria live, who spirit Ashe away to an otherworldly dimension.
The shadows with glowing eyes are Occuria, beings that deem themselves the Gods of Ivalice for their immortality. The Occuria brand Ashe their saint and the new Dynast-King as they had Raithwall before her. They gift her the Treaty-Blade to carve out new pieces of deifacted nethicite from the Sun-Cryst, the source of all nethicite power, to achieve power enough to destroy Archadia and its benefactor, the rogue Occuria Venat. Venat has taught Dr. Cid the secrets to manmade nethicite, undermining the Occuria's power in Ivalice as the true weavers of history. Ashe is conflicted as to her course of action, but as an apparition of Rasler grasps the blade's hilt she follows suit and finds herself back in the mortal world, holding the sword.
Ashe and the party leave Giruvegan with the knowledge that Dr. Cid has used them to retrieve the Treaty-Blade, and had no intention of traveling to Giruvegan. Dr. Cid's gambit for doing this a mystery, they head for Balfonheim to talk with Reddas. The political situation in Ivalice is in turmoil, and a fleet Reddas had sent to explore the waters of a jagd has gone missing. Deeming it their next destination as per the instructions given by the Occuria to locate the Sun-Cryst, Reddas lends Balthier's airship a manufacted skystone he had stolen from the Draklor Laboratory earlier to grant it the power to fly over jagd. Reddas joins the party to travel to the Ridorana Cataract, where the Sun-Cryst is housed atop the Pharos lighthouse. Balthier asks Vaan to take the Strahl should something happen to him. At the Pharos's entrance, the party comes across a message carved by Dynast-King Raithwall himself as instruction to his descendants who might one day follow in his footsteps.
The party finds the Sun-Cryst at the top but runs into Gabranth who has been spying on Ashe and her companions to discern her true motives for seeking the throne of Dalmasca, as per orders from Larsa who wants to convince his brother Vayne of Ashe's sincerity. Enraged by the sight of his "treacherous" twin Gabranth attacks them, blaming Basch for holding onto false honor after failing to protect his family and kingdom. He declares himself the true king-slayer but the party prevails. When Dr. Cid arrives, having also been following Ashe, he blames Gabranth for failing at his mission to Lord Larsa, and dismisses him in disgrace.
Rasler's apparition goads Ashe to become the Occuria's new Dynast-King, and in the abundant Mist around the Sun-Cryst everyone can see him. Ashe realizes the appearances of Lord Rasler are but images constructed by the Occuria to manipulate her actions. She declares herself no false saint for the Occuria to use, and dispels the apparition who speaks to her in an Occurian voice, pleading her to reconsider.
Cid fights the group, using the Esper Famfrit to aid him. He is defeated, but asks Venat to reintegrate the pieces of deifacted nethicite to the Sun-Cryst that begins to spill Mist over Ivalice. Venat attempts to defend Cid, but he asks for it to step aside, seeing his time is up. Speaking to Balthier one last time, Cid disappears into the Mist, asking Balthier to do what sky pirates do best: fly. Vaan and Ashe try to destroy the Sun-Cryst but it is too volatile. Reddas takes the Sword of Kings from Ashe and reveals his true identity as that of Judge Magister Zecht who had unwittingly destroyed Nabudis with the power of the Midlight Shard under orders from Dr. Cid. Reddas sacrifices himself to destroy the Sun-Cryst with the others escaping on the Strahl.
Battle aboard the BahamutEdit
The party returns to Balfonheim where the pirates mourn Reddas's passing. They learn the discharge of Mist from the Sun-Cryst activated the largest airship ever built, the Sky Fortress Bahamut, which was Dr. Cid's motive for rousing the Cryst. The conflict has suddenly come to a head as Marquis Ondore's Resistance armies are staging a battle in the skies above Rabanastre against the Archadian Imperial Fleets led by Vayne and Judge Zargabaath. They arrive on time to witness the showdown, and Vaan mimics Larsa's voice on the airship's intercom to have the Marquis let them pass. They penetrate both the Resistance and Imperial fleets and dock the Strahl on the Bahamut to stop Vayne before the conflict will destroy Rabanastre. Before they reach Vayne, Gabranth arrives to stop them.
Gabranth has given up everything except his need to destroy his brother to prove his superiority. The party defeats him, and leaves him beaten in the elevator. They find Vayne with Larsa at the command center, Vayne eager to show Larsa how a true Emperor crushes his opponents despite Larsa objecting to the war. As Vayne turns against Ashe Larsa helps the party fight him. Vayne conjures magickal swords to attack the party, but they are dispelled by Larsa's piece of manufacted nethicite. As Vayne is beaten his manufacted nethicite sucks power away from Larsa, and the ship around him.
Seeing that Vayne has turned on Larsa, the wounded Gabranth joins the attack and is struck down. Vayne limps away onto the outside Cannon Superstucture and calls for Venat, telling the Occuria it must seek another to realize its ambitions of freeing Ivalice from the Occuria's tyranny. Venat says that with the Sun-Cryst destroyed the Age of Stones is over, and the Occuria have lost their influence on Ivalice's fate, thereby fulfilling Venat's desire. Venat dissolves, investing Vayne with its power as an Undying and he absorbs pieces of the sky fortress onto himself.
Vayne is defeated and explodes into a cloud of Mist, taking Venat to the grave with him. The party must now stop the warring factions and halt the descent of the malfunctioning Bahamut lest it falls on Rabanastre. Boarding the Strahl with Larsa and a dying Gabranth, Balthier has Vaan take the pilot's seat with Penelo as his navigator. Vaan flies the others to safety as Balthier and Fran return to the Bahamut to try and fix its glossair rings in time to halt its descent.
Over the intercom Basch, posing as Judge Magister Gabranth, asks for the Archadian forces to stand down their attack. Larsa takes over the mic and declares Vayne fallen in battle and himself the new Emperor of Archadia. Larsa announces he has made peace with Princess Ashe of Dalmasca to stop the war. As the Bahamut falls from the sky, Judge Zargabaath wants to place his Alexander on a collision course to ram it clear of Rabanastre, sacrificing himself to save the city.
Balthier contacts the Strahl and asks them to stop Zargabaath, as he is amid an effort to restart the Bahamut's engines. Balthier tells Vaan to look after the Strahl while he is gone and Vaan assures Balthier that he will. Bahamut gains power and moves away from Rabanastre, crashing outside of the city with Fran and Balthier still inside despite Ashe's pleads for them to get to safety.
A year later Penelo writes a letter to Larsa. Dalmasca, Archadia, and Rozarria are at peace, and Rabanastre has returned to the way Penelo remembers it from her childhood. The party has split, each living their separate lives. A month from now Ashe will be crowned Queen of Dalmasca so they will not be able to see her anymore. Basch has assumed his late brother's identity as per the latter's deathbed wish for him to protect Lord Larsa in his stead, as should the last of House Solidor fall Archades would be consumed by a civil war. Even if it means Basch will forever be unable to clear his name as the king-slayer, he took up the Judge's armor and became Larsa's bodyguard.
Vaan and Penelo had looked after the Strahl until it was stolen. Penelo notes it is not really stealing if the original owner took it back, however. Balthier had left behind Ashe's ring, which she had given to him as compensation for the treasure Balthier did not get in Raithwall's Tomb, implying Balthier has found the treasure he had been looking for. Vaan flies his new airship to find Balthier, with Penelo accompanying him as "every good sky pirate needs a partner."