I wonder if you know much of the Hydra Corps.
It would not be surprising to learn that few young people had even heard the name. No, not surprising at all.
The Hydra Corps was an elite unit hastily assembled during the Great War, only to be annihilated shortly thereafter during a mission within Castle Zvahl. Nay, perhaps 'twould be more accurate to say that many believed this to have been their fate. For the two letters found by adventurers in the shrouded realm of Dynamis have finally given us a hint of truth after twenty years of uncertainty.
From the address on the letters supposedly written by a Hydra Corps member, we were able to track down the intended recipient. She was most startled to have the delayed correspondence suddenly thrust upon her, and broke the seals with a look of confusion. As she silently scanned the contents, however, we were informed in a voice choked by tears that the letters were, in fact, genuine. In the hope of unraveling the mystery of the Hydra Corps' whereabouts, the lady graciously permitted us to publish several other letters she had received from the long-missing author.
We would like to introduce several excerpts from these letters in an effort to explain the true purpose and ultimate fate of the Hydra Corps.
The lady's name has been withheld on request.
Excerpt from letter dated 11/28/862 CE
"...hope you'll be happy for me. Today is a day for celebration. I've been assigned to the multi-national strike force that was only recently formed--the 'Hydra Corps,' they call it. Seems that they required the skills of an experienced treasure hunter. The army has not been kind to a Combat Caster with no spells to cast, but I believe this unit will welcome my particular expertise. My day in the sun has finally arrived just as you always said it would.
"With the new salary I'll be receiving, we'll have the gil for our wedding in no time. We won't be able to speak on the linkshell for a while, but don't worry, I'll send letters as often as I can..."
Excerpt from letter dated 12/09/862 CE
"Last night, I joined my unit for the first time. The area is already swarming with the armies of beastmen, and we had a busy night sneaking inside their siege engines and yelling out false orders. I wasn't sure if I would ever get around to sending this letter...
"Getting back to the Hydra Corps, though, I was a little disappointed when I was introduced to the other members. 'Multi-national strike force' is a misleading description--the great bulk of the unit has been assembled from the knightly orders of San d'Oria. They said it had to do with the problem of supplying different sizes of equipment, smoothness in relaying orders, and other such flimsy excuses. But I completely forgot about all that when they issued me with my new mission attire. Time to say goodbye to that bulky Combat Caster cloak. This armor has been created after extensive research into thief techniques, and doesn't hamper my movement in the slightest. It was apparently made by the finest craftsmen from the finest materials available, and I when I put it on I can almost feel my abilities being enhanced. With this kind of equipment, I'm sure to survive the coming conflict. No question. So don't you worry about me, okay? I promise, one day soon we'll meet again on that hill..."
Excerpt from letter dated 8/03/863 CE
"...seen no movements from Castle Zvahl today, either. Judging from the size of the allied forces, we should be assured of an easy victory, but we cannot advance until we are prepared. The troops are exhausted, and the elite beastmen units--the Forlorn Vanguard, and the Dark Kindred--still lurk within the walls, unscathed.
"Now is the time for the Hydra Corps to show its mettle. Tonight, we plan on infiltrating the castle. The operation is on a volunteer basis, but you can bet that every single member will participate. That includes me, of course. This is my field of expertise, after all.
"This will be a dangerous mission, but do not fear. I have been issued with an extraordinary dagger--'Mandau' is its name. I have never seen its equal. You likely won't believe me, but this weapon talks. It tells me that it used to belong to a famous rogue. No, I have not gone mad. I'll introduce you once I return to our fair capital. I'm not sure you'll like its haughty attitude, though..."
Excerpt from undelivered letter dated 8/13/863 CE
"...maybe ten days have passed. I still have no idea of where I am. The area appears to be Beaucedine Glacier, but I see no sign of the allied forces. Neither day nor night has dominion here. There is no sense of time passing at all...
"We were fighting with the Kindred when a sudden darkness engulfed us... When I came to my senses I saw the sprawled forms of the other Hydra members, as well as those of our opponents. It seems our enemies were just as surprised as we were. In any case, our battles with them continue. We do not intend to fall in this place..."
Excerpt from undelivered letter dated 9/10/867 CE
"My dearest ****,
This may be my last letter to you. I have continued my correspondence in the hopes of retaining the gift of words, and some sense of time. But there is no escape from this hell. This realm stands apart from Vana'diel. It is a prison. There are those among the Hydra who have begun to think the world was destroyed as we lay unconscious, and this shade of reality is all that remains.
"Our battle has been never-ending. All for the brief flowerings of scarlet color on the endless fields of snow... Most of my companions have lost their grip on sanity, and pursue our enemies with a dull single-mindedness. Why do they fight? Why bother to spill each other's blood anymore? I am losing the will to care the longer I stay here...
"I don't want to become like them. I don't want to forget you. That is why I have decided to entrust my spirit to Mandau. If gentle Altana has any presence here, then surely she will see my letter delivered to you. I will not say goodbye. We will meet again one day, I swear it…"
The isolated realm spoken of in the letters must surely be the place adventurers know as "Dynamis." There are many who claim to have been attacked in that land by soldiers resembling the members of the Hydra Corps. These attackers supposedly have eyes that have lost the light of hope...
We pray that the efforts of adventurers will allow the spirits of these poor wretches to return to Altana's embrace.