No lands must remain beyond our grasp. Go forth. Conquer. Rule.

Solus zos Galvus quoting his imperial mandate.

Solus zos Galvus is a non-playable character in Final Fantasy XIV, being the main antagonist of the Shadowbringers expansion and the global story arc started in the original version. He is the founder and first emperor of the Garlean Empire, and the grandfather of Varis zos Galvus and great-grandfather of Zenos yae Galvus.

Since the original version, Solus has been mentioned several times due to his role as the founding father of the Empire. Despite being shown in a few artworks, Solus never appeared in-game nor had a great presence with the events. He would later resurface in Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood with a far more prominent role and a younger, more able body.

As the Legatus and later Emperor, Solus was a visionary and brilliant leader who dreamed of a glorious future for his people. He forged an empire in the span of a single generation, but his vision led to war and expansion, the Garleans conquering nation after nation under the pretense of "uplifting" them and ending the threat of the primals. The Garleans oppressing the imperial provinces led to fear, anger and resentment towards the Empire.

Profile[edit | edit source]

Appearance[edit | edit source]

As an old man Solus zos Galvus has a long white beard. He wears full body armor and the Garlean crown, and uses a walking cane.

His younger form has yellow eyes and burgundy hair with a white streak. He wears a stylish black military coat adorned with gold on the chest and white fur along the trimmings. He wears white gloves.

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow. (Skip section)

Solus's true identity is that of Emet-Selch (アシエン・エメトセルク, Ashien Emetoseruku?, lit. Ascian Emet-Selch), an Ascian, whose true name is Hades (ハーデス, Hādesu?). Like his brethren, Emet-Selch has an Ascian mark, though more sinister and infernal in design compared to his Paragon comrades. He rarely wears the Ascians' black robes since taking the vessel of Solus zos Galvus. Hades's final form resembles the Esper Zodiark's second form in Final Fantasy XII. Emet-Selch is the only Ascian thus far encountered to be seen without the typical Ascian red mask. In his "Tales from the Shadows" side story, Emet-Selch's original form was the typical form of an Amaroutine as a tall humanoid with white hair. Like all members of the Convocation, he wore a distinct red mask.

Personality[edit | edit source]

Emperor Solus was said to be an enthusiastic theater-goer and patron of the arts. He commissioned the building of an airship for the Majestic Imperial Theater Company so they could travel the realm and bring their performances to the far reaches of the Empire. This hearkens to the Tantalus Theater Troupe from Final Fantasy IX.

Solus, or Emet-Selch by his Ascian name or Hades by his true name, is more eccentric and talkative than the average Ascian, being unpredictable and condescending towards his allies. His eccentricities often leave those around him exasperated or enraged. He remains convinced of the importance of the balance between Light and Dark and considers his people the definition of perfection while viewing the "broken" races mere imperfect parodies of his kin. He extends this contempt to his mortal grandson, Varis, having no real interest in the Empire outside its intended purpose of spreading chaos. His resentment towards Varis also stems from him resembling his firstborn son, whose death serves as a final reminder of mortal imperfection in Emet-Selch's eyes. However, he does show interest in certain mortals who underwent the Umbral Calamity numerous times.

Emet-Selch is a loner, and though he operates with full intention to bring about the Rejoining, his actions are often considered unpredictable. Beneath his eccentricity and cheerfulness, Emet-Selch bears the burden of centuries of sorrow and pain over all that he and his people have lost, and a burning hatred for Hydaelyn and all who fight in Her name. In contrast to the maniacal scheming of Lahabrea, the passionate rage of Nabriales, the patronizing arrogance of Igeyorhm, and the cold rationality of Elidibus, Emet-Selch is filled with deep melancholy over Amaurot's fall. Whenever he speaks his true feelings, his pain and despair, his voice deepens and becomes more gravely.

Story[edit | edit source]

Early life[edit | edit source]

Born as one of the few ancients with the gift of 'soul sight', the man known as Hades was chosen to fill the seat of Emet-Selch for the Convocation of Fourteen, a group that served as guardians of the city of Amaurot and the world. Hades was good friends with two other ancients: Hythlodaeus, another ancient with 'soul sight' and the Chief of the Bureau of the Architect; and his fellow convocation member filling the seat of Azem. Falling into despair when their world was besieged by a calamity from within, Hades joined his fellow Convocation members and devised a plan to halt the calamity: summon the will of the planet, the primal Zodiark. The price to accomplish this feat would be grave, and caused Azem to leave in dissent. Half of their people were sacrificed to offer up the necessary aether to complete the ritual.

Upon Zodiark's creation, the deity immediately enthralled Hades and the others into becoming his devout followers, but succeeded in his primary purpose. Even with the Final Days halted, the world was still unfit for nurturing life, so the Convocation besought their people to sacrifice another half of their number to replenish their ruined world and restore the cycle of nature. For Hades and the Convocation to restore the lives of those originally sacrificed, Zodiark would require even more aether; aether that would come from the new life being born into the world. This disturbed the dissenting member of the Convocation, who felt that the sacrificial costs were already too great, and that the world now belonged to the lives birthed in it. An opposing group of Amaurotians who felt similarly thus summoned Hydaelyn in opposition to Zodiark, and the resulting conflict ended with Hydaelyn's final attack shattering reality, sundering the world and nearly all life on it into the Source and its thirteen shards.

Hades survived the Sundering intact along with two of his fellow Convocation members, Lahabrea and Elidibus, while everything he knew and loved was either sacrificed to Zodiark, or fragmented into what they consider flawed parodies. Going by his title Emet-Selch, Hades worked with the other Paragons and their Ascian followers to orchestrate the Rejoining of the shards with the Source to restore both their god and their home. During the Source's Third Astral Age, Emet-Selch influenced the creation of the Allagan Empire by helping its advancement until it was destroyed in the Fourth Umbral Calamity.

Establishing the Garlean Empire[edit | edit source]

The Garlean Solus zos Galvus was born in the year 1489 of the Sixth Astral Era to the esteemed House Galvus, a distinguished family of pureblood Garleans in the then-small Garlemald Republic. He joined the military at the age of sixteen, where he distinguished himself from the rank and file as a brilliant tactician and statesman and attained the rank of Legatus by his twenty-fourth nameday in 1513.[2] At some point before the founding of the Garlean Empire Solus's body was taken over by Emet-Selch who would control it for the rest of his life, but the exact timeframe of the possession is unknown.

Shortly after achieving the rank of Legatus, Solus learned of the newly-invented ceruleum engine and saw its combat potential as he guided the development of magitek weapons and its integration into the army.[2] Despite initial skepticism, the Garleans saw Solus's reasoning as it allowed them to conquer northern Ilsabard and won over the subjugated peoples with the promise their lives would be improved with magitek.

In 1517, having become revered by the people, Solus was granted control of Garlemald as dictator by popular support. Garlemald devastated the small country of Nhalmasque before conquering the south of Ilsabard in 1522. Solus proclaimed himself emperor, and created the Garlean Empire.[2] In spite of Solus's many successes it is difficult to characterize his life as happy: he was betrayed by those he had believed were his closest friends, and lost his firstborn son to illness when the man was still young.[2]

Expanding the Empire[edit | edit source]

Solus was not content with Ilsabard alone. Six years after becoming emperor, he set his gaze upon the eastern continent of Othard. With their warmachina at the fore, the imperial forces toppled all who dared stand before them. During this campaign the emperor laid eyes upon the ruin wrought by primals—an entire land drained of life. The sight led him to issue an imperial mandate for the annihilation of the dread beings the Garleans dubbed "eikons" to deny them as beings of divine origin.

After a long and hard-fought resistance, the nation of Doma fell to Garlemald in 1552. Having conquered the east, the emperor turned his armies towards the west, plotting the invasion of Aldenard, and captured Ala Mhigo in 1557. However, this was to be the last victory for some time.[2]

Final Fantasy XIV 1.0[edit | edit source]

Once Ala Mhigo had been assimilated into the Empire both politically and economically, the XIVth Imperial Legion focused on hastening the progress of the Eorzean campaign. In 1562, the imperial fleet accompanied by the mighty flagship Agrius forged its way into Mor Dhona and to Silvertear Falls. The legion's armada encountered unexpected resistance from the Midgardsormr—forgotten guardian deity of the lake. The great dragon called out to his kin, who pitted themselves against the Garleans' fleet. The battle ended when Midgardsormr and the Agrius collided and plummeted to the land, compelling the legion to retreat from Mor Dhona.

The Ascians teaching Eorzea's beast tribes the means of summoning their own "gods" provided the emperor the means of motivating the Empire to conquer Eorzea.[3]

The Garleans attempted communication with the lesser moon Dalamud under the guidance of the Empire's principal engineer and grand minister of industry, Midas nan Garlond. Dubbed "Project Meteo,," the operation was tested at the imperial stronghold of Bozja Citadel using Allagan artifacts donated by House Darnus.

The project was proposed by nan Garlond after the emperor had tasked the engineer with finding a solution to the eikon threat. Nan Garlond uncovered the Allagans' method of overcoming primals and that Dalamud was an ancient satellite the Allagans had created. He surmised that within the moon's metallic nacelle slumbered a great source of untapped energy—forgotten power that could transform the moon into a weapon of mass destruction if pulled down from the skies and unleashed upon Eorzea. The moon was to serve as the Empire's own "meteor".

Days after receiving the emperor's blessing, nan Garlond traveled to the Garlean city of Bozja to communicate with Dalamud. The immensity of the satellite's power was confirmed, but nearly five millennia-worth of amassed energy was directed by the moon to the citadel's makeshift transmission tower. The beam evaporated the tower as well as the entire city. The Imperial Censors tried to hide the event, but the vanishing of a major commercial center was too big a secret to suppress. News of the catastrophe spread across Hydaelyn and became known as the Bozja Incident.

The loss of Midas nan Garlond, the lunar transmitter, and the Allagan records stored at the Bozja Citadel, seemingly sealed the fate of Project Meteor. The emperor declared he had no interest in power of such an unpredictable nature and ordered the project to be dismantled.[4]

During the Empire's decade-long stalemate with Eorzea, the emperor publicly recognized Legatus Nael van Darnus as a man of exceptional talent for his scores of crucial victories in the Empire's eastern campaign. Despite being well past his eightieth nameday by the year 1572, Solus's ambitions to unify the Three Great Continents under Garlean rule were as strong as ever. After amalgamating the political affairs of the occupied territories in Othard, he set his sights once again upon Aldenard and her vexing eikons. When he declared the annihilation of the eikons as one of his administration's top priorities, van Darnus proposed ridding Eorzea of its false gods once and for all, using House Darnus's closely guarded knowledge of Allagan relics to succeed where others had failed.[5]

After learning of his deployment to Eorzea, van Darnus appealed to the emperor regarding the merits of resurrecting Project Meteor, claiming he had discovered a means to control Dalamud. After enduring a decade-long stalemate on the Eorzean front, the aged emperor, impatient to solidify his legacy before his death, entertained the notion of a realm-wide "cleansing" of beastmen and their eikons and the second phase of Project Meteor was commenced.[4]

In spite of repeated interference from the Grand Companies and adventurers, Project Meteor went along as planned, with the lesser moon beginning its descent into a direct collision course with Eorzea. With the denizens of Eorzea praying to their gods, the emperor's preparations in the Seventh Umbral Calamity seemed assured. The remnants of the VIIth Imperial Legion amassed at the plains of Carteneau, where Dalamud was expected to make landfall, but the Eorzean Alliance learned of this thanks to Gaius van Baelsar, Legatus of the XIVth Imperial Legion, who disagreed with Project Meteor.[6]

Eorzea was devastated as Dalamud shattered above the land to reveal the elder primal Bahamut, but the primal was subjugated by the Archon Louisoix Leveilleur[7] and the Seventh Umbral Era was subverted. Gaius and his XIVth Legion used Eorzea's state of disarray to set up several outposts across the land in preparation for the future conquest of the severely weakened realm.[8]

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn[edit | edit source]

Five years after the Calamity, Solus remains the official ruler, but decides to make his exit via letting his corporeal form die of old age. News of the emperor's failing health incite political strife within the Empire over who would succeed him, leading to the official abandonment of the unified effort to conquer Eorzea with only Gaius and his legion attempting to conquer the realm on their own.

Galvus's casket being spat upon by the succeeding emperor.

Not long after the beginning of the Seventh Astral Era, Emet-Selch discards his human façade by succumbing to an ailment at the age of eighty-eight. As Gaius is no longer present to oppose any challengers, a civil war breaks out in Garlemald over the succession to the throne.[2] The conflict is resolved with Solus's grandson Varis named emperor, learning the truth of his grandfather's true nature while commissioning the use of Allagan technology to create clones of Solus.

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood[edit | edit source]

Solus's cloned body.

The Ascian Emissary Elidibus is forced to bring Emet-Selch back as Solus some time after Lahabrea's demise. Emet-Selch finds the cloned bodies of his previous vessel preferable to possessing a random body and molding it in his image. With his return, Solus becomes the power behind the throne with Varis serving as a figurehead, much to his dismay. Solus reminds Varis that he is not to make judgments but to administer them without question, as any threats to the balance of the Light and Dark are to be expunged. He reveals that he, as an Ascian, built the Garlean Empire for the purpose of creating chaos and to ultimately invoke another Calamity. As he continues gloating, Varis shoots him, proclaiming that man is the master of his own destiny. His attempt is scoffed off as Solus simply reappears in another clone body to end their discussion.

Following Gaius and Alphinaud Leveilleur destroying the plant manufacturing the Black Rose gas, Solus notes its application could be useful for his agenda. He uses what he considers his final meeting with Varis to thank him for the clone bodies. Solus's departure is noted by Elidibus. Following the siege of Ala Mhigo reaching a stalemate, the white-robed Ascian wishes to speak with him. Neither he nor Varis know where Solus is, with Varis remarking that he could be doing what all Ascians do. Elidibus suspects that Solus has found a means to take advantage of the situation.

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers[edit | edit source]

Solus follows the Warrior of Light to the First, one of the shards of the Source, and observes the Scions' actions. He makes his presence known after Titania's defeat, formally introducing himself by his Ascian title: Emet-Selch. While admitting he is tempted to ally with Eulmore, Emet-Selch offers cooperation with the Scions despite Urianger Augurelt destroying a shade he was using to offer the deal.

Later, when the Warrior of Light, Urianger, Thancred Waters, and Minfilia arrive in the Rak'tika Greatwood, Emet-Selch reiterates his proposal to join the group as an observer, to which the Scions begrudgingly accept. He disappears again after being trapped by the Night's Blessed, reappearing to win the group's trust by retrieving Y'shtola Rhul after she used Flow to escape a pit at the Ronkan ruins. After the Scions defeat Eros, they find ancient murals depicting the Sundering, the event that shattered the original world. Emet-Selch reveals the Ascians' true origins along with Hydaelyn and Zodiark being primals.

Emet-Selch remains supportive until the Warrior of Light is unable to contain the amassed light of Norvrandt's Lightwardens, revealing he has been testing the Warrior and the Scions to see if the former would regain enough of their "former self" to be considered a potential ally. He spirits away the Crystal Exarch after he is revealed to be G'raha Tia. After putting them through another trial in the form of a recreation of his original world, Emet-Selch systematically defeats the Scions while gloating that the Warrior will be consumed by the light. When Ardbert—the Warrior of Light's counterpart in the Warriors of Darkness—merges their souls to stabilize them, the Warrior of Light challenges a furious Emet-Selch who briefly sees them as an Amaurotian.

Emet-Selch reveals his true name as Hades and channels his kin's collective power, refusing to surrender even after being overpowered. The Scions use the white auracite to hold him long enough for the Warrior of Light to kill him with Ardbert's axe. Hades accepts his death, asking the Warrior of Light to remember their people before fading away with a smile.

Emet's final walk

The Warrior of Light briefly summons Emet-Selch through a crystal spelled with memories and the powers of the 14th member of the Convocation, Azem.[9] This crystal allows the summoning of allies in direst need, and during a climatic battle with Elidibus as the original Warrior of Light, Emet-Selch appears as an ancient and frees the party from the void, snaps his fingers and saunters away.

Gameplay[edit | edit source]

Hades is fought as the final boss of Shadowbringers in The Dying Gasp. An optional Extreme trial, The Minstrel's Ballad: Hades's Elegy, was added in patch 5.1.

Every boss in Shadowbringers has its name and a title shown in the pre-fight cutscene, such as "Lightwarden". The only exception is Hades, who tells the Warrior to "cast titles aside" and fight right before the battle commences.

Other appearances[edit | edit source]

Final Fantasy Trading Card Game[edit | edit source]

GarleanEmperor TCG.png

The Emperor appears with an ice-elemental card.

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

Design[edit | edit source]


Emet-Selch's character was designed by Natsuko Ishikawa, and drew inspiration from Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean series with the goal of adding more human elements on top of his character. The team tried to work around the character's resemblance to Ardyn Izunia from Final Fantasy XV so they wouldn't overlap too much.[10]

Allusions[edit | edit source]

Just before the player unlocks the final dungeon of Shadowbringers, Emet-Selch walks into the hall of fire in a similar way to Sephiroth in the Nibelheim burning scene in Final Fantasy VII. This is the second time Final Fantasy XIV alludes this scene after Nael van Darnus's scene in Castrum Novum in the original version.

The gate that Emet-Selch opens for the Warrior and the Scions before the final dungeon, also is a reference to the Gates of Hades from Greek mythology. The last boss of this dungeon is Therion, a hell beast that was mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Spoilers end here.

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The Latin word "solus" means "alone" or "separate" and is commonly used in stage directions. "Galvus" is derived from Latvian word galva, meaning "head."

"Emet-Selch" refers to the light scion "Emet-Selch, Angel of Truth" referred to in the profile of Zalera in Final Fantasy XII. His glyph mask, before fighting him as Hades, is almost identical to the bottom portion of Zalera's, only inverted.

Emet-Selch in Hebrew is אמת–סלח (emet-selaḥ). Formed out of two root words (Hebrew shoreshim, "roots" are the three-letter combinations from which all other words are derived), the words themselves cannot be reduced any further and are in their "whole" or "original" forms, just as Emet-Selch, one of the Source Ascians, is of his "original" form. אמת is "truth", while סלח is the verbal "to forgive", making the literal translation of the title "(to) forgive the truth".

Hades is the Greek god of the Underworld, as well as the name of the Underworld itself. Despite many modern portrayals, in Ancient Greek mythology, Hades was not represented as evil. Later Christians used the name as being synonymous with the Devil, which seems to be the inspiration for the forms that the monsters with this name take. Emet-Selch's connection to the Greek god, Hades, is further solidified in the "Through His Eyes" short story, where he is described as having an affinity with the "Underworld", the ancients' term for the Lifestream.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Gamescom 2019 Q&A (Accessed: September 01, 2019) at Final Fantasy XIV Forums
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Encyclopedia Eorzea, p. 177-178
  3. Encyclopedia Eorzea, p. 38
  4. 4.0 4.1 Encyclopedia Eorzea, p. 41
  5. Encyclopedia Eorzea, p. 40
  6. Encyclopedia Eorzea, p. 42, 43
  7. Encyclopedia Eorzea, p. 44, 45
  8. Encyclopedia Eorzea, p. 54
  9. Final Fantasy XIV, Patch 5.3
  10. Yoshida Interview (Accessed: September 12, 2019) at Twinfinite
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