We start with Ruby flouting in the Theater District of Lindblum. After her song ends, a pair of guards inform her that Regent Edgar requests her presence for an informal meeting in the castle. Ruby makes her way there, and Edgar fills her in on what little is known of the incident in Tida some fifty years previously. He then explains that the farming community Dali has requested Lindblum send a group to look at their Crystal, as something strange has been happening with it. Edgar asks the princess if she would acquiesce to going with the mages, to put a more public face on the event. Ruby accepts. While moving about the castle, preparing to leave, she spies a wolf wandering the castle’s corridors. She follows it for a while; when it notices her, it sits down to wait for her to leave, but when she approaches, it runs away.
Elder Garret is returning to the inn where he is currently staying in Lindblum when the innkeeper tells him of a stranger that came asking for him and who said to meet him at the front steps of the castle later that day. Garret waits for Nearien to arrive, as they have been working together on combining magical and engineering theory, and sets out. At the front steps of the castle he is greeted by Regent Edgar, whom he knows in passing. Edgar, knowing that Garret was on of the only survivors of the disaster at Tida, asks if Garret wouldn’t mind being a part of the expedition to Dali. Garret accepts, and Edgar sends him to an inn to meet one of the mercenaries he’s hired to help guard the princess.
Shyla is drinking, alone, in a rowdy common room when Garret finds her. Garret spends several hours regaling the bar with his stories, much to Shyla’s chagrin, before leaving the inn to return to sleep. Shyla spends a few more hours starting fights in the bar before heading to bed as well.
The next morning, the three meet at the front of the castle, along with Nearien, who has decided to accompany Elder Garret, two quarters of Royal Mages, and Sir Edgar Barrow, who has been chosen to lead the expedition, due to his familiarity with the road from Lindblum to Dali. Also in the square is a wolf, who accepts a few head-scratches from Ruby. Sir Barrow and Garret, who have some common history, greet each other, and the group heads out.
That night, Shyla and Ruby have some conversation, in which Shyla tells the stubborn Ruby that she knows nothing about the world, and needs to learn to take care of herself, while Garret entertains the bar patrons and answers some of the innkeepers’ questions about their expedition and the happenings in Dali.
The rest of the week-long trip passes without incident and the group finds themselves in Dali, near the start of a festival. Garret and Sir Barrow head off to make an appointment with the town’s elder, while Shyla takes Ruby to find a weapon shop. They come across a smoky blacksmith shop called Wyld Stallyns, however they are unable to get any useful service. Outside the shop, Ruby tries to convince Shyla that the doesn’t need help defending herself, by setting a tree on fire with her power staff. The crowd panics and a nearby black mage puts out the fire, while Shyla argues with Ruby that she doesn’t understand the world, as evidenced by the fact that SHE JUST SET A TREE ON FIRE. Two wardens run up moments later, drawn by the calls of, “fire,” and inform Ruby that it’s time for the meeting.
Ruby and Shyla meet up with the others at the Elder’s house, and he escorts them to the Crystal Pavilion near the center of town while explaining the situation. A massive oak tree grows around their Crystallis, and few weeks ago the tree began to blacken and lose its leaves. The Elder, knowing rumors about Tida’s passing, panicked and asked Lindblum for help. He leaves them in the pavilion to attend to other matters, and the mages begin investigating the crystal. While thusly distracted, the group is attacked by a small group of chocobo knights as well as five mounted mages. Shyla is gravely wounded by the knights’ commander in the opening moments, but manages to keep the commander away from the crystal and eventually knocks him from his chocobo, killing him. Garret heals Shyla, then kills one mage before being attacked by both of the other knights. Ruby focuses on attacking the two knights while the mages perform some kind of ritual on the Crystal. The mages just manage to complete their ritual before Shyla has dealt with the commander and is charging them; they shoot black energy into the Crystal, similar to a Dark spell, and the Crystal shatters.
Shyla cuts down one more mage as the attackers flee, and the group realizes that the Miasma will be rushing into the city in moments. They run, attempting to inform other people of the danger, and meet up with the Elder, who takes them to his house to use his personal-sized crystal. They wait out the panic in the Elder’s house, protected by a twenty-foot bubble of breathable air. When the activity has quieted down outside, they emerge into a ghastly scene, where people trampled to death in the panic share the street with those too unfortunate to find a crystal before the Miasma descended.
The group goes to check on their wagon with its much larger crystal, but it has been taken in the chaos, along with all their supplies. The group then returns to the Crystal Pavilion to gather clues, and learn that the chocobo knights were indeed from Cocoon, though whether they were officially sanctioned remains a mystery. The bodies of the three defeated mages yield three scrolls which incompletely describe a ritual. The group searches the town for supplies in air-tight containers, to use on their long trip back to Lindblum, and in the process runs off a group of ruffians ransacking a farmhouse. They find a barrel of radishes in the basement, and set off to return to Lindblum.