Locations and History
The people of Cleyra are originally from Burmecia. Long ago, they severed ties with Burmecia over a trivial conflict. Now the kingdom is at peace, shielded by a large sandstorm.
- Freya, shortly before departing for Cleyra.
Burmecia and it's surrounding regions are home to a number of vibrant and exotic locations, found within the Daines-Horse Basin and the Vube Desert. This section will cover a number of these locations, as well as give a brief history lesson about each one.
Burmecia is the Burmecian capital, located within the Aerbs mountains north of the Daines Horse Basin. It is a walled, multi-layered city, with an infrastructure similar to that of a rabbit warren - the city is built around the king's palace, with the city guard's armory, city treasury, temples and noble houses surrounding the inner city, with more residential structures and local amenities reaching further out. Many buildings and checkpoints in Burmecia have a unique locking system using specialized bells In contrast to the medieval Alexandria and the steampunk-themed Lindblum, Burmecia's architectual style is heavily influenced by Gaelic and Norse times. It is notably the only superpower on the Mist Contintent whose capital is located beneath the mist, rather than upon the plains above it.
Burmecia is named "The Realm of Eternal Rain", due to it's constant rainfall. Many Burmecian scholars have debated whether the rain itself is a gift from the gods, or as punishment for their sins. In reality, the rain is a byproduct of the Mist, created by the thin air that permeates the mountain "pocket" where the city was built. The rain finally stops after the Mist is dispelled from the Mist Continent at the end of FFIX.
It is unknown when Burmecia formed as a nation, but it is implied that the Burmecian race aren't native to the Mist Continent - exploration of Mount Gulug reveals that the mountain used to be a home to a race of Mole People, a summoner tribe that was wiped out by Garland many years before the events of Final Fantasy IX. There isn't any conclusive evidence proving that the Burmecians are direct descendants of the Mole People, but given their similar appearance to moles, it can be assumed that both races are at least part of the same genus.
Sometime after Burmecia's formation, the summoner's tribe in Alexandria attempted to summon the Eidolon Alexander, which resulted in catastrophic consequences. To prevent the Eidolon's power from being abused by future generations, Alexander's summoning crystal was split into four fragments and sent across the Mist Continent, one of which was given to Burmecia for safe keeping. Not long after receiving the crystal fragment, a civil war breaks out in Burmecia over it's ownership. In the ensuring war, a group of fundamentialists called the Cleyrans take the crystal and migrate to the Vube Desert, where they set up their own nation called Cleyra.
During the next hundred years, Burmecia and Alexandria engage in a bitter rivalry with one another, resulting in several bloody skirmishes over the years. With Burmecia's harsh climate making any invasion attempts impossible, most Burmecian-Alexandrian wars took place around the North Gate area within the Aerbs Mountains. Yet despite the Burmecians having numerous advantages over the Alexandrian army, they have never once passed beyond the Melda Arch on the Alexandrian side of the North Gate. The conflict between Alexandria and Burmecia ends peacefully in 1771, when Lindblum sends it's airship fleet to intervene. The Alexandrian forces surrender, but relations with Burmecia are still tentative at best.
With Lindblum asserting itself as the dominant superpower of the Mist Continent, all three nations begin diplomatic relations with one another, putting an end to the wars that have been plaguing the continent for hundreds of years. Yet in spite of lasting peace, many Burmecians - including Sir Fratley - suspect that the other nations may be using the ceasefire to rebuild their millitary strength. In 1800, during the events of Final Fantasy IX, their greatest fears are finally confirmed when Alexandria, now under the rule of Queen Brahne Raza Alexandros XVI, attempts another invasion of Burmecia - this time using an army of Black Mages.
Having learned from their mistakes over the years, the Alexandrians begin their invasion using the Black Mages as their first line of offence, due to their resistance to pain, fatigue and the lack of need for food, drink and sleep. They overpower the garrison at the Melda Arch before marching onto the capital proper, eliminating any resistance they meet whether it's millitary or civillian, an action that draws critisism over the use of Black Mages by General Beatrix and her soldiers. Burmecia suffered many casualties during the siege, including most of it's royal guard and several remaining Dragon Knights. Eventually the Alexandrians reach the Burmecian Palace, only to find that it's been deserted prior to the invasion.
When the party arrives in Burmecia, they find that the city is left in ruins, many of it's inhabitants killed and only a few pockets of survivors remain behind, including a couple who Zidane saves from a crumbling statue. The party fights their way through to the palace, scaling one of the tall statues to gain entry where Zidane and Freya witness Brahne, Beatrix and Kuja in the throne room. It is here they discover that many of the surviving Burmecians, including the king, have all fled to the neighbouring city of Cleyra. They then witness a lone Burmecian soldier challenge Beatrix to a fight, but quickly intervene before he gets himself killed. Beatrix fights and defeats the party, and Brahne plans to invade Cleyra next. Beatrix and Brahne then leave, and Kuja mocks the party before taking to the skies on his Silver Dragon. The party then recovers and decide to go to Cleyra before Brahne reaches the city first.
Cleyra is an independant city-state located within the branches of a gigantic tree within the Vube Desert. It is a medium-sized settlement surrounded by an ongoing sandstorm, isolating it from the outside world but at the same time protecting the tree from outside invasion. Despite this, Cleyra is a self-sustaining settlement, using a waterwheel to draw water from the desert below the city to provide it's citizens on a daily basis. The city itself has a small number of amenities, such as an inn, an observatory, a weekly farmer's market, and a cathedral. It is also known as the City of Illusion.
Cleyra is implied to be a theocracy, ruled by the Cleyran High Priest and most of it's citizens serving as either oracles or shrine maidens. The lack of libraries or books around Cleyra suggests that history and information is passed around orally, rather than in written form. Many social gatherings and events take place at the city's cathedral, located at the topmost level of the tree. Here, the Cleyrans perform dance rituals which help strengthen the sandstorm on a regular basis. It is very likely that other dances may have been performed to mark many social and religious occasions.
About five hundred years before the events of Final Fantasy 9 take place, Burmecia recieves one of the shards of Alexander's summoning crystal in order to prevent it's powers from being misused. Not long after it's arrival, Burmecia is torn apart by civil war over control and ownership of the crystal shard. During the war, an extremist faction called the Cleyrans took the shard and headed west, with the intention of setting up an independant nation outside of Burmecian influence and traditions.
They Cleyrans began construction of a settlement high within the branches of the gigantic tree located in the middle of the desert, and using the power of the crystal shard, summoned up a sandstorm to protect the settlement. After announcing it's establishment, Cleyra then severed all ties with Burmecia, isolating itself from the outside world and eliminating any chances of diplomatic relations between the two neighbouring nations.
For hundreds of years, Cleyra has thrived as a peaceful community, having no concerns about the outside world until the Alexandrians launch an assault on Burmecia. With many Burmecians made homeless, Cleyra lowered the sandstorm for the first time in four hundred years, allowing shelter for the many refugees, including the King of Burmecia. Upon her arrival, the King asks Freya to particate in the Sandstorm summoning ritual, namely the one when Burmecia and Cleyra were one. During the ritual, the strings on the harp containing the Desert Star snap, causing the sandstorm to dissipate. Cleyra is revealed to the outside work in four centuries, allowing the Alexandrians to lay siege on the treetop city.
A handful of soldiers storm the tree, distracting the party while Brahne teleports an army of Black Mages into the city proper, killing a few soldiers (including Dan) as well as several civillians. The party returns to the city to see it under siege by the Black Mages. Zidane carefully directs any survivors to safety, guiding them towards the cathedral. As they reach the summit, the party and any survivors are surrounded by Black Mages, but are saved by the timely arrival of Sir Fratley, allowing them to flee inside the cathedral.
After Fratley reveals the true nature of his apparent disappearance and leaves the cathedral, Beatrix infiltrates the building and takes the Desert Star, stating that they "fail to grasp the true power of this jewel". She flees and the party gives chase, challenging Beatrix who once again defeats them with ease. Her mission accomplished, she and the remainder of the Black Mages teleport out of Cleyra. Zidane, Freya and Vivi follow them, and find themselves on board the Red Rose, just as Brahne summons the Eidolon Odin. Odin then obliterates Cleyra with his Gungnir attack, wiping out a huge number of Burmecians and Cleyrans, and reducing the Cleyran tree to nothing more than a smoldering stump in the desert.
Only a handful of Burmecians and Cleyrans survived the attack, many of whom have scattered across Gaia. Many survivors fled to Lindblum, while others have made their homes at places such as Treno and Daguerreo. Sir Fratley disappeared after the attack, having been presumed missing or dead.
North Gate is the airship gate that regulates trade between Alexandria and Burmecia. As the name suggests, the gate is built along the northern peaks of the Aerbs Mountains. North Gate itself is maintained by two stations on each side of the border - Melda Arch on the Alexandrian side, and Burmecian Arch on the Burmecian side. Burmecian Arch is located halfway between Gizamaluke's Grotto and the city of Burmecia. Structure wise, it has a similar design to North Gate, minus the use of cable cars.
After peaceful relations between both nations broke down, both arches were sealed off as soldiers from Alexandria marched through to Burmecia, bringing with them the Black Mage Army, and possibly siege engines. As the party visits both locations, they note that smoke was rising from the other side of each respective arch, and in the case of Burmecian Arch, fresh blood, most likely from the result of the conflict having made it's way towards the Burmecian garrison.
Upon returning after the Mist is finally dispelled, the party can see a rainbow over the Arch.
Gizamaluke's Grotto is a checkpoint between Burmecian and Lindblum territory, located south of the city. It is heavily guarded by Burmecian soldiers on both sides, and it is the only way one can travel between Burmecia and Lindblum by foot. The grotto itself is named after the large aquatic dragon, Gizamaluke, who serves as the guardian of the realm and is highly revered by many Burmecians.
The grotto is a highly secure place, many of it's corridors and rooms are sealed off and can only be opened by a guard and his or her corresponding bell, which acts as a key. In addition to providing a passage through the border, the Grotto also has a mini chapel and a lookout point, the latter of which is highly not recommended as a result of grand dragons making their nest up there.
When news of the Alexandrian Black Mage attacking Burmecia reaches Lindblum, the party sets out to intervene on foot, having to pass through Gizamaluke's Grotto to reach the Burmecian capital. As they pass through, they find that the Grotto has also been overrun by Black Mages, under the control of Zorn and Thorn, many of the soldiers here either killed of mortally wounded. They also have to battle Gizamaluke himself, who's also been posessed by the twin jesters, before having to pass through to the Daines-Horse Basin.