It all began in a tavern in Upper Jeuno. A group of men, mostly local townsfolk, was having a casual conversation.
The topic, however, was serious. They spoke of how the recent efforts of adventurers had brought about the peace now enjoyed by all. But how could they, as men, be content to sit idly by? True, they were not trained in the arts of battle, but was there not something they could do to help the adventurers, to ease their burden in the struggle against the beastmen?
Amidst a flurry of impassioned but unrealistic strategies, one proposal caught everyone's attention.
"You put some cannons on an airship, see? And then you fly it to some enemy stronghold and blast it into oblivion!"
Another voice immediately responded.
"Yeah! And if you're gonna do it right, one airship won't be enough! You gotta have more than ten before you can talk business!"
Slowly, the focus of the conversation began to shift from "how to help adventurers" to "how powerful an airship armada would be."
As I sat at the counter, enjoying the heated yet pleasant exchange between the drunken taverngoers, the old man sitting next to me suddenly let out a melancholy sigh. "An airship armada... That brings back some memories..."
Intrigued by his words, I introduced myself to the old man and asked him what he knew of airship armadas.
The old man's name was Narihira. Until recently, he was an engineer who worked in the clock tower, Upper Jeuno's prized landmark.
"It all happened over twenty years ago..."
This was how Narihira began his amazing story of how airships were initially designed as doomsday weapons near the end of the Crystal War.
"I was actually aboard for the maiden voyage of the prototype, or the 'First Ship,' as we called it. I was assigned to rotor maintenance. Heh, those shipbuilders probably never dreamed that they were building a vessel that would sail the skies..."
Narihira went on to describe the First Ship to me in detail. According to him, it was much larger than the airships of today, and had far more rotors.
"Thankfully, the war ended shortly after the maiden voyage, so our machine was never tainted with blood," he continued.
"But make no mistake. That ship was a weapon. If the war had gone on longer, the airship armada that they're dreaming up over at that table might have been a reality."
Feeling as if I had just skimmed the surface of the intriguing history of airships, I went to the air travel agency the following day in order to find concrete evidence of what I had learned.
"Yes, I have heard that airships were initially designed as siege weapons," a young clerk informed me, "but unfortunately, records from that era are not kept here."
"The airships used by our company are not descended from the prototype you speak of," the clerk continued. "Rather, they are completely redesigned models, with more focus on safety for civilian use."
"That is all I know regarding this matter," concluded the clerk, but he then added a comment that only an airship company employee would make.
"When you consider the cost of fuel, maintenance, and training a crew, I think it would be very difficult to utilize an airship as a weapon."
After concluding my business at the air travel agency, I flew directly to Bastok. My objective, of course, was to talk with Cid, Chief Engineer of the Metalworks, and the highest authority on airship construction.
After explaining myself to him, Cid said he would talk to me for five minutes.
"So you want to spread the battlefield to the sky, do you?" Cid queried. "I don't know where you learned about the First Ship, but that thing was scrapped ages ago."
The apron-clad Cid did not deny the existence of the First Ship, but he downplayed the effectiveness of airships as weapons.
"True, that ship was built for war. Its one and only use was as a siege engine. But even then, it had to land on water to refuel, and there were only so many cannons, ammo, food, and water it could carry at one time. Really couldn't do much. Unless..."
Cid folded his arms as if he had just made a vital discovery, and then continued with a pensive expression on his face.
"If some powerful enemy appeared from the skies, then that would be a different story... Well, not that something like that would ever happen."
Though I wanted to hear more about that last thought, Cid informed me that my time was up, and curtly ended the conversation.
On the flight home, I stood on the outer deck of the airship and watched the sun set as I thought about what I had learned in the past few days.
At the very least, I was able to confirm the existence of the First Ship. From there, however, I could only wonder. Had the Crystal War continued, would there have been fleets of airships tearing across a battle-torn sky?
I then decided that I would leave the matter to rest.
The age of arming airships for use in battle is now only a footnote in the annuls of history...