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Final Chapter - Put to the Test | Safely back from their brief trip to Ymir, Rean and his classmates began practicing for their upcoming concert. Under the watchful eyes of Elliot and Crow, they put all they had into their practice sessions... And thanks in part to the fact that they weren't all complete amateurs, they were finally ready to perform.
The time came for the preparatory day before the festival. Rean chose a classmate to accompany him to collect the finished outfits from a boutique in Heimdallr... ...but walking out with the outfits in tow, he ran into someone he wasn't expecting to see.
It was the the famous opera singer, Vita Clotilde, also known as the Azure Diva. Although, Rean was more familiar with her as Misty, the host of a radio program broadcast in Trista. Having met her once already, Rean took the chance to invite her to attend the festival and watch their concert.
The time finally came for the two-day long festival to begin. Rean spent the first day helping the Student Council, visiting attractions with classmates in his spare time... As the day came to an end, Class VII gathered for a final meeting to discuss the concert being held the next day... During their discussions, however, they heard the sound of a bell chiming from far away.
The source of the chiming turned out to be the old schoolhouse that they had become so well acquainted with. Given permission by Sara and Principal Vandyck, they descended to the lowest floor. Each and every one of them were stunned by its new appearance. Guided by Emma and Celine, who seemed to know something, they resolved to restore the building back to normal.
Eventually, they found themselves in what could only be described as an otherworldly battlefield, face to face with a monstrous black shadow. After a challenging battle, they were able to defeat it, overcoming the trial that it represented. They were transported and knocked out in the aftermath, but once they’d opened their eyes, they discovered the building was back to normal. Suddenly, a door that was before them opened.
On the other side stood a giant humanoid. A seven-arge tall, ash colored ‘knight.’
The next day, the second day of the festival began. Rean managed to put the knight out of his mind enough to focus on showing Elise, who had come to visit, around the academy campus. During that afternoon, the time finally came for their concert. Each of them gave their all to their performance, and they were able to finish both songs. When the audience feverishly called for an encore, Class VII was more than prepared to perform a third. During the third song, the audience was invited to sing along, and the concert proved to be an immense success.
After the concert, the afterparty began. Rean thanked Crow for all that he had done for him. Encouraged by Elise, Rean also decided to spend some one-on-one time with someone close to him. Unfortunately, the party was brought to an abrupt end by a shocking proclamation from Principal Vandyck... He appeared to tell them that Garrelia Fortress the east had vanished without a trace.
A week passed since then, and the air in Erebonia was more tense than ever before. It was concluded that the fortress' disappearance was due to an attack by Crossbell State... ...and it was shortly announced that Chancellor Osborne would be making a speech to the nation at noon. Rean and his classmates chose to listen to the speech through a radio in their classroom. Only Crow was missing, having supposedly gone to Heimdallr to hear the speech in person.
The time for the speech finally came. Osborne's words were forceful and provocative, making it clear that it would end in a declaration of war. And not just against Crossbell, but against the Calvard Republic as well, who was believed to be backing the state. However, just as he was about to make that decisive declaration... The sound of a gunshot resounded throughout the skies of the capital.
The left side of Osborne's chest was pierced, and he collapsed to the ground in a pool of his own blood. The spectators led out terrified screams as they watched in horror. The sniper who shot him was none other than C, the Imperial Liberation Front leader who was believed to have met his end in Roer. And his true identity was revealed to be a former member of Class VII... Crow Armbrust.
Meanwhile, the students of Thors were able to witness the whole string of events through the radio broadcast. At first, they were merely listening to what was happening, but then 'Misty' spoke directly to them. After she spoke, the classroom was filled with the echo of an eerie chant, and a window into what was happening appeared before them. Emma shared details about Vita, the Witch of the Abyss, whom she described as something of a sister to her... However, they were all too shocked by what was happening to pay any real attention to her words.
As they watch the glimmering visions of the capital before them, a giant silver airship appeared from above the clouds. From it began to fall countless humanoids, all of which immediately set about taking over the city. They were seven-arge tall knights known as Panzer Soldats, made with modern orbal technology. The Noble Alliance had built them some time in advance--all in preparation for this day. The Soldats used their incredible mobility to overwhelm the main battle tanks guarding Heimdallr... And in no time at all, they reached Valflame Palace, making their occupation of the city complete. In command of that operation were members of Zephyr, the jaeger corps that Fie once belonged to.
Nearby, Vita Clotilde stood on top of Heimdallr’s opera house, blissfully watching the silver ark descend on the palace. She was met by Bleublanc, who praised her work, addressing her as Ouroboros’ Second Anguis. With an elegant smile, she accepted his words, then confidently issued a proclamation: ‘The bells are tolling for Crossbell, and preparations here are complete. Still, even this grand an undertaking is but a jewel in a greater crown...the second stage of the Orpheus Final Plan.’ ‘The symphony awaits us. Let the second movement commence.’
Meanwhile, Rean and his classmates weren't allowed much time to process what they had just seen. Not long after their window on Heimdallr closed, they realized that Soldats were fast approaching Trista, too. Sara, Neithardt, the principal and several other instructors defended the west exit valiantly. Eventually they also received the aid of Sharon, who revealed herself to be an Enforcer of Ouroboros... But while they still had their hands full, another group of Soldats began approaching from east of the town. As such, Class VII resolved to protect the east exit themselves.
The battle for Trista began. First, Class VII fought against a Drakkhen Soldat, and by aiming for its joints, they emerged victorious. But in a sad twist of fate, they were powerless to defeat the much stronger Spiegel unit the terrorist Scarlet was piloting.
Rean resolved to use the power deep within him as a last resort... DOST THOU DESIRE THE POWER? But before he could, he heard a voice resound in his mind. He was standing in a strange empty space. Before him stood Celine, who urged him to call the voice's name. Loudly and clearly, he did just that: ...‘Heed my call...Valimar, the Ashen Knight!’
With a bang, the humanoid that they found in the old schoolhouse came flying through the air towards them. It landed, and Rean entered its core along with Celine. Although he had never seen the inside of such a thing before, he instinctively knew how to pilot it, and with that knowledge he was able to easily best Scarlet’s Spiegel. The air was filled with the cheers of his classmates, but they were soon silenced by a familiar voice. ‘Whoa, whoa, hold up just a sec. aren’t you forgetting something?’ It came from above.
The source of the voice was a large, blue humanoid, one similar to the Divine Knight Rean was piloting. It was the Azure Knight, Ordine, piloted by none other than Crow. Rean despaired at the thought of having to fight him after all the time they had spent together... He tried whatever he could to reason with him, desperately attempting to avoid any further conflict. Yet Crow refused to listen, and with a wry smile, he declared that the Crow Rean thought he knew was never real. Nonetheless, Rean made one last ditch attempt at trying to change his mind. ‘So that’s the plan if you win, huh? But what about if I win?’
Rean trusted that Crow would come back to him and the rest of Class VII if he proved victorious, and the battle between the two Divine Knights began. The power of Crow's Azure Knight was immense... But Rean fought back as hard as he could, and he found himself able to fight on equal terms. Finally, Rean saw the decisive opening he’d been searching for: ...'Enlightened Domination!' The Azure Knight fell to its knees from the impact of Valimar and Rean's attack. His classmates cried out with relief... but that relief was not to last.
The next moment, the Azure Knight transformed. Surging with mana, it drew closer to the Ashen Knight. Rean was stunned. All it took was a single hit from Ordine to send him flying backwards, defeated. His consciousness began to fade, and all he could do was wince in fear as the Azure Knight approached.
...'No, you don't!' Without hesitation, his classmates stood between him and Ordine in a protective stance. They didn't have a chance of defeating it, but they were determined not to let it draw any closer to Rean. Together, they resolved to buy him the time to escape, believing that he could one day bring the war to an end. Rean tried to protest, but Celine ordered Valimar to retreat from the area. Rean cried out in objection, his consciousness growing ever fainter. From outside, one of his close friends bade him a private farewell. It was clear from their voice how much they cared for him; how prepared they were to face anything, even death. Fighting back tears, Rean cried out to them as the Ashen Knight took to the sky.
All he could do was watch from above as the hopeless battle began. ...’No...! They need me! Let me staaaaaay!’ His cries resounded endlessly throughout the crimson sky. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel - END
Continued in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II