Final Fantasy XVI Theory Reveals the Heartbreaking Origin of a Mundane Item
On second thought, maybe I don’t need to craft weapons.
There are plenty of dark elements in Final Fantasy XVI’s medieval world of Valisthea. Everybody is at war, close friends can die at a moment's notice, and you could just be killed for doing your day job! It’s a depressing place. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that even the most mundane of items hold a darker story behind it. This is the reasoning behind a new fan theory that suggests Final Fantasy XVI’s Magicked Ash comes from the dead bodies of bearers.
Magicked Ash is a commonplace item in Final Fantasy XVI used for crafting or reinforcing weapons. Players can purchase it from merchants for a measly 40 gil, find it by defeating notorious marks, defeating certain bosses, or just laying around the world.
The description of Magicked Ash is as follows:
All creation is possible because of aether. It is what gives the formless form, and the lifeless life. When an object is consigned to the flames, whether due to age, accident, or ill intent, the aether contained within is released and returned to the land. There are, however, rare instances in which an elemental charge remains trapped inside the resulting detritus, and skilled weaponsmiths can harness this energy for use in their work.
Based on this description and the circumstances surrounding how Clive can acquire this item, Reddit user Iaxacs has theorized that Magicked Ash is the last remains of bearers. “I've noticed the largest quantities of this item come from quests related to bearers or areas of their deaths,” writes Iaxacs. This includes finding a lump sum of the item behind a church that doubles as a cemetery.
Bearers are the slave class of Final Fantasy XVI and therefore seen as objects by those above them. This lends credence to the Magicked Ash’s description referring to bearers. Although even beyond this social-stratification the description seems to imply that Aether resides within all things as a source of life. In any case, it isn’t a reach to think that the Magicked Ash is the remnants of some poor departed soul.
While this does recontextualize the item in a darker light, this wouldn’t be the first time the Final Fantasy franchise pulled a trick like this. Final Fantasy VI’s magicite, which allowed characters to learn magic, is revealed to be the remains of espers that have been killed. On a less dark note, Final Fantasy VII’s mako has a similar premise, as it is the energy of the planet and all creatures who have died and entered the lifestream.
This wouldn’t even be the first time Final Fantasy XVI developer Creative Business Unit III had pulled this trick. In Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers, the story reveals that meol, a food item that foods the majority of the people of Eulmore, has been made from the bodies of sin eaters that were former citizens of Eulmore itself.
While many players may never make the connection unless they put all these clues together and read the item's description, the inclusion of a lore reason for Magicked Ash speaks to how thought-out and deep the world of Valisthea in Final Fantasy XVI is.