The three city-states of Eorzea each have a turbulent history filled with fighting. The Twelveswood of Gridania has seen the Ixali fall out of favour with the elementals, replaced by the newer residents, humans. Most who play the popular MMORPG are aware of how messy Limsa Lominsa’s origins are as the founders were pirates who would do anything to survive.
Surprisingly though, it is Ul’dah, the self-proclaimed jewel of the desert, that has the most abhorrent past. It’s not a tale of Ul’dah alone though but of its sister city Sil’dih and its predecessor, Belah’dia.
Final Fantasy XIV – Ul’dah
Belah’dia is an ancient city that only appeared in legends and countless whispered rumours. After the last Umbral calamity, a small portion of the ruins was discovered in southern Thanalan when the disaster caused the earth to shift, unveiling it. It is here that players can access the in-game dungeon of The Sunken Temple of Qarn. The dungeon, while primarily a place of worship, has several other purposes.
Inside four monuments important to the people of Belah’dia can be found and utilised; The Helm of Might, The Fruit of Knowledge, The Flame of Magic and The Gem of Affluence. The Flame of Magic represents the Mhachi mages who founded the city originally. It is unknown if the others have any significant meaning beyond what is described.
Aside from the areas of worship, it was also a resting place for several Belah’dian Sultans, such as Lalafuto I to III and the builder of the original temple, Tatamefu II. At the back of the temple was a place of judgement, as the temple is dedicated to Ayemza, the Warden, Goddess of the sun.
Lalafuto IV was in the process of expanding the temple when he unexpectedly died. Two princes, Sasawefu Ul Sisigan and Sasagan Ul Sisigan, both tried to claim the throne, leading to a war of succession. The war continued with neither faction triumphant, leading the princes to go out and found their own cities.
This is how the city-states of Ul’dah and Sil’dih came to be.
The residents leaving Belah’dia placed traps and protection on the city before they left, ensuring neither side would try to go back and claim it or if they tried, it would be with heavy losses. As a reminder of where they came from, the founder of Ul’dah, Sasagan, took the symbol of the Flame of Magic and the Jewel of Affluence as his own symbols while the founder of Sil’dih, Saswefu, chose to use the Helm of Might and the Fruit of Knowledge as theirs.
After founding their respective cities, the two settled into a time of relative peace. At least, that was the case until Lalawefu Sil Tatawefu ascended the throne of Sil’dih. He became known as the king of springs after he was able to procure a steady water supply for his city. What he neglected to mention to his people was that he used state funds to divert a river that originally supplied water to Ul’dah.
Sil’dih was proud of their military might and was able to create gladiator constructs to help them fight. This was one of the reasons they took on the symbol of the Helm of Might. A year after Lalawefu died though, Ul’dah declared war on the Sil’dihns in what was known as the War of the Sisters, in hopes of reclaiming their water source.
The two sides were at an impasse for four years until the thaumaturges of Ul’dah created the Trader’s Spurn and used it at the behest of Sasagan III. Trader’s Spurn was a special alchemical powder that would turn the living into Ashkin, better known as the undead.
Unable to breach Sil’dih’s defences with conventional methods, they relied on the Trader’s Spurn to help turn the tide of battle. Using catapults, they launched the powder into Sil’dih to have the dead attack the living. Sultan Sasagan III spread rumours saying that the Sil’dihns turned their dead into zombies to fight the war for them in their desperation to cover up what was really happening.
To add to the realism of the rumour, the Immortal flames were created to try and crush the undead menace. They were successful at last and Sil’dih was no more. To add insult to complete annihilation, Sultan Sasagan III chose to rebuild Ul’dah on top of the decimated Sil’dih’s location.
Several decades after the war, the atrocities that Sultan Sasagan III and the thaumaturges had committed came to light. In an outrage, the Sultan was stripped of his power and instead, it was given to Baldric Thorne. This became the start of the Thorne legacy when Hyurs ruled for over 130 years. However, Karma decided it was time for Ul’dah to reap what it had sowed.
The undead Sil’dihn began to pour out of the ruins and into Ul’dah and the surrounds of Thanalan. The Ul’dahns worked together with the Amalj’aa to eliminate the common enemy. During this time the two found appreciation for each other’s customs and considered their allies, comrades.
In two years, the undead menace was dealt with, and the Thornes willingly handed the throne back to the Ul dynasty. As Ul’dah rose to become a city of merchants, the gem of affluence became the Gem of Prosperity. The Syndicate was formed to help the traders have a say in what happened in city-state matters. Over time, the Syndicate’s political power grew as the Royal family’s power declined.
During this time, a faction who wanted to be done with the Royal family altogether appeared. The Monetarists were Traders who had made a name, and fortune, for themselves and they did not take kindly to the Amalj’aa intruding on their turf and profits. The royal family, grateful to the Amalj’aa for all they had done for Ul’dah in the war, vehemently opposed this.
By the time Sultan Sasabal Ul Sisibal had come to power, only a few knew of the Amalj’aa’s involvement in the Undead War. Sasabal disagreed with the Monetarists politically and butted heads with them at every opportunity. It was unfortunate when the Sultan and his wife, Nanasha, both perished in an accident when their daughter, Nanamo Ul Namo was five.
Although it’s impossible to prove, it is likely that the Monetarists were behind the accident that felled the Royal couple. At least their daughter, the current Sultana, suspects as much. Sasabal and Nanasha wanted the truth to be known, so before they perished, they made sure that Nanamo had the key to the Sil’dihn ruins underneath Ul’Dah.
For now, Ul’dah has entered a peaceful period, albeit fragile. With the Monetarists still around and holding most of the power through the Syndicate, it’s uncertain what the future will bring for the Jewel of the Desert. But with such a rich history, it’s disappointing that it’s not really mentioned much in the game at all.
Aside from two optional dungeons, one of which requires Endwalker completion, and a few off-hand remarks in some of the Thanalan-based side quests, it’s mostly ignored. Perhaps, in the future, it might be rectified, and the Amalj’aa will finally get the recognition they deserve from everyone.
Final Fantasy XIV is available on PS4, PS5, Mac and PC.