Leviathan in FFIX & Failed Summoning

Miko

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Something that has always bothered me was the importance this game puts on Leviathan and the brief (and slightly sloppy) story to go along with it. I feel like I'm probably making something out of nothing but I'd value any input for or against my theories below.

A quick recap:
The party learns that the Iifa Tree is sealed off by an eidolon, and that it requires an eidolon to break it.
Eiko explains that the tribe sealed it off sometime before she was born, and that it was the result of a failed summoning.
She further tells Zidane that it’s customary to seal off failed eidolons in the place where they summon it.
Later at the Iifa Tree, after the seal is broken, Garnet asks Eiko where the imprisoned eidolon is and rushes to break it’s seal in a desperate attempt to help save her mother.
Garnet successfully breaks the seal but is disheartened when she learns that it isn’t the eidolon she can use to help save her mother.

That’s it. That’s the last you hear of Leviathan formally.


I always kind of felt like it was weird unnecessary dialog. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate extra lore to go along with this game - But as far as I’ve read there hasn’t been much else acknowledged about the failed summoning of Leviathan, not even in the World Chronology of the Ultimania.

They even gave animation to the breaking of the seal of this particular summon – why? And if sealing it off at the site of it’s failed summoning is customary why were they summoning Leviathan at the Iifa Tree location? Eiko only explains that it happened before her birth, but she doesn’t explain if that was a ‘couple years’ or a ‘few hundred years’ prior. The only other failed summon we know of is Alexander, and apparently that failed summoning was so bad that they split it’s gem up instead of the supposed custom ritual of sealing them.



I’m also curious what constitutes as a ‘failed summoning’ - A failure for the eidolon to respond to it’s summon? Or something more closely aligned with Alexander? To be fair, the reason why Leviathan isn’t usable in the game’s given scenario is assumed because his feared Tidal Wave would only further harm Queen Brahne. Curiously they also use an eidolon to seal an eidolon.

My other thought is maybe a failed summon is a result of summoning a Terran-born eidolon? (I’ll explain more below.)



Other things I thought was worth mentioning:

FFWiki on Leviathan for FFIX said:
Leviathan is mentioned in an old memo written by Hironobu Sakaguchi for the development of Final Fantasy IX. Upon their first meeting Princess Garnet would have rushed past Zidane and "a thief" (Blank in the final game), and while the thief would have focused on Garnet's chest being slightly revealed in her formal dress, Zidane would take notice of the pendant she was wearing: "No, no, she was wearing the pendant of the summons permitted by only royalty. Deep blue stone... 'The Legend of Leviathan', was it Princess Garnet?"[1] This could refer to Garnet's royal pendant being the summoning jewel for Leviathan in the early story drafts. In the final game, Garnet is unaware the pendant is a fragment of Alexander's summoning jewel.

Obviously Leviathan was initially intended for more importance in the beginning stages of development.

FFWiki - The Leviathan Alter @ Daguerreo said:
On the third floor's balcony, there is a stone that affects the altar at the entrance: after activating it, the statue in the first floor allows the player to turn Ore into Aquamarine, one for every four Ore.

The wiki coins this place as the Leviathan Alter, though in my game when Zidane approaches it he reads out ‘Dragon god’s blessing to the stone’ - but I digress. This entire place seems like it’s revolving around Leviathan with it’s many water serpent depictions throughout the different accessible rooms. Additionally there isn’t much known about Daguerreo which raises the question of if it’s Terran related like it's other Forgotten Continent neighbors Oeilvert & Ipsen's Castle . Not much to back that up, but just a thought. If it were true, is it possible that would further my theory that a failed summoning is the result of calling a non-native (Terran) eidolon?


Also, about Terra and eidolons:
Ultimania said:
Eidolons are born from the crystal, converted from an accumulation of memories within, to serve as powerful guardians for the crystal.

Because their numbers, abilities, etc. are influenced by the power of the crystal, and Terra’s crystal was too old to form its own eidolons, it would be unable to wage a direct conflict with the eidolons of Gaia.

When Garland found the place on Gaia where the pulse of its energy intersected, he found the tribe who had a rapport with the eidolons.

To me the above quote makes it seems like the crystal was unable to provide sufficient eidolons instead of none at all. My thoughts are that the crystal is still capable of producing these eidolons, and are either weaker variants or possibly stronger ones after the Fusion that took place.

Either way, it could explain why there is a failed summoning when a Gaian-born summoner calls on a Terran Crystal-born eidolon - It would almost be like a glitch in the system. It could also explain why they use an assumed Gaian eidolon to seal the Terran one.



Anyway, I'm not sure if there really is a single point to me tossing all this out there, but I wonder how different this game could have been if it had been Leviathan instead of Alexander in it's place. Also curious if the Leviathan events in the game I mentioned earlier are just remnants from the initial concept or not. I wish they could have done more with Leviathan's story, but this game was probably long enough as it was.



Curious if anyone has anything else to add or comment on (or disprove!) - I actually learned a lot by really looking into this topic so I'm sure there's some more information that I missed or may have neglected to take into consideration. If time restraint wasn't an issue I would have loved for all the lore and information to really have been spilled out for this game.
 

Dionysos

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This is a very interesting topic!

I think you’re onto something here.

I’d forgotten all about these scenes surrounding Leviathan so watched them again to familiarise myself. The Iifa Tree is a peculiar place to summon the tidal serpent. Maybe the summoners thought the tree needed watering?

I do suspect that the internal logic (with what remains in the game) for Leviathan not being useful to Garnet is due to the fact that a tidal wave would only hinder Brahne and her fleet. But they went through a lot only for that to be decided, so it would seem like the creators did intend to do more with Leviathan earlier on in the game’s development (as, indeed, is also implied by the comments that Garnet was supposed to possess Leviathan’s gemstone instead of a fragment of Alexander’s).

The water serpent imagery at Daguerreo is also fascinating. The lower levels of this library are flooded so there does appear to be some unexplored connection with Leviathan. But with it being on the other side of Gaia to the Iifa Tree, if there was supposed to be a connection at this point in the story then they might have suppressed that and moved the location elsewhere.

As for it being Terran? Of that I cannot say. I see no Illuminati-style Terran eye pyramids. That’s the primary motif which the game uses to indicate to the player that a location is Terran in origin. However, the Desert Palace is an example of a Terran location which contains a variety of classical and renaissance style art and does not rely so heavily on the Terran eye, so we may not discount this entirely.

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Ipsen’s Castle (another Terran location) also contains a lot of medieval-style stone sculptures and reliefs, so it isn’t as if the Leviathan reliefs would be entirely out of character for the Terrans or anything.



I think the theory that Terran eidolons will often fail when summoned by Gaians is a fascinating one. It’ll be yet another consequence of the failed merger that Terran eidolons can be discovered by Gaians who would then be tempted to attempt to summon them, but due to the weak pulse of the Terran crystal the summonings would fail. Maybe Leviathan could have been first discovered or learned about at the Iifa Tree? That is a Terran location too.

It would make sense for Terra to have its own eidolons. We know that certain eidolon extraction altars which Zorn and Thorn attempt to use appear to be Terran in origin. This isn't just an altar placed in more recent times within a Terran location. The Terran symbols are visible on the altar itself and the artwork behind it.

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Ultimately, I suspect the decision to almost cover up the role of Leviathan left a few leaks in the plot.
 

Miko

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Thanks for replying. :D I took some time to look into a few more things to satisfy my curiosity.

I’d forgotten all about these scenes surrounding Leviathan so watched them again to familiarise myself. The Iifa Tree is a peculiar place to summon the tidal serpent. Maybe the summoners thought the tree needed watering?

Lol I’ll admit, you gave me a good chuckle - as dry as that place seemed it probably could have used a good watering. Thinking about the Iifa Tree I decided to read up on it’s description a bit.

Ultimania said:
The Iifa Tree
The magical tree of Terra, whose roots extend through the surface of Gaia, and whose trunk resides in the interior. The true trunk lies within, while the section seen on the surface is actually just an aggregate of roots on the reverse side of the trunk. The roots extended to the surface to stabilize the upper ground, while the trunk stretches to the crystal at the core of the planet, governing the cycle of souls.

Also note:
Madain Sari is a location in the northern region of the Outer Continent in Final Fantasy IX. It is a ruined village, where a tribe of summoners once lived.

According to Final Fantasy IX Ultimania, Madain Sari is located where the pulse of the planet Gaia runs its most focused, and the people of Madain Sari studied the workings of nature and use of summoning magic. From their discoveries, they theorized that the eidolons are Gaia's guardians manifested from the collected belief in myths and legends accumulated within the planet's crystal. The Eidolon Wall, with the many engravings of eidolons, still survives to this day.
aaaaand lastly:
Ten years prior to the game's start, Garland ordered Kuja to destroy Madain Sari because he feared the tribe's power of summoning eidolons could come between him and his plans.

I think it's possible that the tribe got too close to the Iifa Tree for Garland's comfort. Being able to communicate with both nature and eidolons it's possible that they learned about Terra's Crystal (and that it was actually below the Iifa Tree), which is entirely possible why Garland retaliated against them. Or maybe they thought it was Gaia's and was trying to water it! Who knows! But I think it's entirely possible that they were snooping around and Garland took action.

Though, not to stray too far from the subject at hand, but it does raise the question about the Mole people over by Mount Gulug and why they were wiped out before the Summoner's Tribe - what with them being the closest to the Iifa Tree and all. You would think that it would have been in reversed order? Though maybe the Summoner's Tribe was eliminated before the Mole people were, we don't actually have a time frame nor much information at all on them.



I think drawing connections to various places with Terra could be in and of it's own thread. For example, I believe that Gizamaluke's Grotto is very possibly Terran as well. As for Daguerreo, well, I find it interesting that it holds so much vast books of knowledge within it's confines. It's also placed so randomly atop of a mountain that it would be very hard to access on foot. When you take into consideration that airships were only implemented in less than 20 years before the game starts it really raises the questions of who, what, when, where, why & how. There isn't much civilization nearby either, so how did they get up there & sustain themselves during it's building process? It's elaborate building process?

But with it being on the other side of Gaia to the Iifa Tree, if there was supposed to be a connection at this point in the story then they might have suppressed that and moved the location elsewhere.

I'd be curious to see where a lot of these different places would line up on a sphere globe, if they took that into consideration at all. It really does make you wonder though if Daguerreo was meant simply as an optional/side quest location or if it was initially meant for in-game content.



As much time as I put into thinking these things up the more I actually kind of appreciate that they left some of these details out. It's a bit nerdy to look into something that never actually happened... but at the same time so interesting and cool! I've always wanted to write fan fiction just to simply explore those different unexplained/open subjects but I'm sure there isn't much following in these games anymore.


Oh well, I'm sure we'll never know! Thanks for humoring me nonetheless!
 

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I think it's possible that the tribe got too close to the Iifa Tree for Garland's comfort. Being able to communicate with both nature and eidolons it's possible that they learned about Terra's Crystal (and that it was actually below the Iifa Tree), which is entirely possible why Garland retaliated against them. Or maybe they thought it was Gaia's and was trying to water it! Who knows! But I think it's entirely possible that they were snooping around and Garland took action.

I think it is possible. If the Summoners were attuned to the pulse of Gaia, etc, then they might have grown cognisant of the difference between Terran-origin locations and native Gaian. They could have recognised the Iifa Tree as a Terran location of extreme importance.
So maybe Garland did strike them before the Summoners could wash it away with Leviathan. Unless they really were just doing a bit of botanical care on a large scale.

Though, not to stray too far from the subject at hand, but it does raise the question about the Mole people over by Mount Gulug and why they were wiped out before the Summoner's Tribe - what with them being the closest to the Iifa Tree and all. You would think that it would have been in reversed order? Though maybe the Summoner's Tribe was eliminated before the Mole people were, we don't actually have a time frame nor much information at all on them.
The Mole people are really interesting. We know very little about them. We don't know exactly how long ago they were made extinct. We don't even know if they actually looked like moles or if they were described that way because they lived underground (though with FFIX's multiple zoomorphic species, the likelihood of them looking like moles is high). We see some of their structures in Mout Gulug, and that's as close as we can get to them. I believe they were also capable of wielding eidolons (according to wiki, but also implied in the game itself because of the existence of an eidolon extraction platform within the ruins). Although this extraction platform also has Terran eyes, so maybe Garland wiped them out as they were getting too close to Terran secrets too. It need not be the Iifa Tree, but something more local to the place they decided to live (Mount Gulug).

The order of these events I am uncertain of.

I think drawing connections to various places with Terra could be in and of it's own thread. For example, I believe that Gizamaluke's Grotto is very possibly Terran as well. As for Daguerreo, well, I find it interesting that it holds so much vast books of knowledge within it's confines. It's also placed so randomly atop of a mountain that it would be very hard to access on foot. When you take into consideration that airships were only implemented in less than 20 years before the game starts it really raises the questions of who, what, when, where, why & how. There isn't much civilization nearby either, so how did they get up there & sustain themselves during it's building process? It's elaborate building process?

It is always tricky to determine exactly which is Terran and which isn’t as the Terra incident happened so long ago that Gaia's societies continued alongside Terran ruins. Some of them were incorporated into their own cities. Many Terran locations lay abandoned (Oelivert and Ipsen's Castle, as examples) but not all of them. That Alexandria's eidolon extraction platform has Terran eyes about it even suggests a Terran site once existed in the location which would one day become Alexandria too...

If Gizamaluke’s grotto is Terran, and Master Gizamaluke himself is just its most recent resident (or a long-living one like some dragons of myth), then the Burmecians have appropriated it for their own purposes. They've left their own unique cultural marks on this site, so any Terran remnants are now mixed up with the Burmecian's distinctive blue mosaics and reliefs set in white, statues of peculiar creatures and a love of beautiful bells.

You’re right! It is its own topic and it is extremely interesting.


As much time as I put into thinking these things up the more I actually kind of appreciate that they left some of these details out. It's a bit nerdy to look into something that never actually happened... but at the same time so interesting and cool! I've always wanted to write fan fiction just to simply explore those different unexplained/open subjects but I'm sure there isn't much following in these games anymore.

I think there is no harm examining any of these things. Sometimes by doing so you learn more about the game. For example, you may look a little bit deeper into the background art and notice symbols and shapes you hadn't looked at before and it leads to more questions.
 
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