Prologue - A Maiden's Resolve
Estelle Bright wakes up to find Joshua Bright gone, learns what he told Cassius Bright five years ago ('If my past comes back to haunt me and becomes a threat to you, I'll leave') and chases after him in the belief that he'll stop by Rolent before departing. On the airship ride over, she meets Kevin Graham, a travelling priest of the Septian Church who wanders the continent teaching, performing rites and the like in towns too small to have a dedicated church. He's also a horrible flirt. Arriving at home she finds Joshua was never there and admits she was fooling herself. Cassius arrives and we learn that he asked Kevin to board that airship and make sure Estelle didn't do anything stupid. When she says she wants to oppose Ouroboros, Cassius approves but tells her she isn't ready yet and sends her to a special training camp for bracers called Le Locle, in Leman. That's the country where the Bracer Guild has its main HQ. It's located around the center of the continent.
Estelle and Anelace Elfead train together over the course of two months and some hints are dropped about the latter's swordsmanship and how Ouroboros demonstrated that they have Combat Orbments that can do things yours can't. A new model is introduced that should level the playing field. Oh, and we learn Anelace's motto is 'Cuteness is Justice'. After completing their training involving the senior members of Team Kurt faking their own capture, the two return to Grancel and Estelle jumps into the operations to counter Ouroboros' activities. The player can choose to partner up with either Scherazard or Agate, Anelace will leave with whoever you didn't pick. She and Estelle agree to be friendly rivals to see who can advance as a bracer faster. They're both the same Rank right now, with Anelace having a six month lead on Estelle.
A small airship arrives at Ouroboros' temporary base of operations in Liberl and a boy with green hair steps out. He's Campanella, Enforcer 0 'The Fool' and is in Liberl as an observer for the Grandmaster, watching everything play out so he can give accurate reports on the progress of the Gospel Plan. He and Loewe spar a bit verbally and we learn that the Jesters (the jaeger group 'Lorence' came from) are Campanella's catspaws and were behind the incident in Erebonia that drew Cassius out of Liberl, all to ensure Georg Weissmann could start his plan without interference. He's impressed at how thoroughly Cassius demolished his scheme, though it accomplished its goal anyways. Loewe mentions the titles of the other Enforcers taking part in the operation and remarks that it's an odd bunch.
We also see that Joshua helped the Capuas escape the authorities in exchange for their helping him fight Ouroboros. They stop off at the ruined village of Hamel in Erebonia and Joshua visits his sister's grave.
Chapter 1 - Sneaking Shadows
Kloe has some great moments here, including a conversation with Estelle about what's expected of her versus what she wants to be. Also, she admits that she's got a crush on Joshua and the kiss during the play might not have been entirely acting. Estelle takes this rather well all things considered. Olivier rejoins in an over the top fashion (calming a near-riot between supporters of the candidates to become Ruan's next mayor) to make a party of four. At Air-Letten everyone meets a family of merchants from Crossbell, a small city-state to the north sandwiched between Erebonia and Calvard. These merchants have a young daughter named Renne who extracts a promise to play with her if you meet up again. You also meet Kevin again, teaching Sunday School classes in Manoria. He's introduced reading the final paragraph of The Doll Knight novels which originally appeared in the Gagharv Trilogy. He also temporarily joins the party and has a very nice defensive S-Craft called Grail Sphere.
Oh, and while all this is going on it's worth noting that if you climb to the top of any of the Tetracyclic Towers from this point on, you'll notice that energy of some kind is flowing through the altar-like structures on the roofs.
The main plot du jour concerns 'ghosts' people have been seeing, which brings us back to the rebuilt Mercia Orphanage among other spots. Estelle traces them back to a ruin underneath the old building at Jenis where we meet Bleublanc, Enforcer X the 'Phantom Thief'. He's also 'B' from FC and the ghosts were produced by a Gospel device he carries. He's obsessed with 'Beauty' and by extension Kloe. He and Olivier have a philosophical debate over what Beauty is and then he summons a giant robot that was sleeping in the ruin to kick your ass. Bleublanc will reappear in the next four Chapters to repeat the Phantom Thief B quest from FC in each of the other cities. This becomes something of a recurring element in the series. Following the battle (and a scene where Dorothy of all people arrives to save the day) he flees.
That night, Bleublanc and Loewe have a conversation about the experiment while perching on a rooftop in Ruan's waterfront. The important take-away is that there is some definite purpose behind the test and that the new Gospel is more advanced than the one we saw in FC. He also mentions 'Thirteen Factories', remember this for later. Kevin overhears this conversation undetected (with a bit of luck) and reveals that he knows the terms Ouroboros and Enforcer.
Chapter 2 - The Raging Land
Unnatural earthquakes are happening in Zeiss and people have reported seeing a man wearing sunglasses shortly before the quakes. Prof. Russell theorizes that someone is manipulating septium veins to cause them. Tita rejoins you here, you have a run-in with Anelace and her partner (if she's paired with Agate, her introduction to Tita is especially memorable) and there's an interlude where you visit Leiston Fortress where Cassius is helping direct all the operations against Ouroboros. After investigating the earthquake incidents and learning more about the workings of various bits of technology, you set up detectors to try to locate the source which turns out to be the cave near Elmo (which you saw in FC but couldn't reach) which is the source of the hot springs. At the depths of the fountainhead you meet Walter, Enforcer VIII 'The Direwolf'. He summons a pack of monsters to attack you. After you beat them you get to listen to Walter talking about how excited fighting gets him, then he effortlessly whacks the party. Fortunately Zin Vathek arrives to save the day. Turns out both of them studied under the same master years ago: Kilika's father. The style is called Taito and emphasizes winning without killing.
At Leiston Fortress, the Arseille is having new engines installed and while waiting, Julia is having a practice match with Cassius. Ten years ago before the latter quit the army, he taught Julia a few things about swordsmanship and he's pleased to see how she's improved since then. After coming out the clear victor, Cassius declines to spar with General Morgan and suggests the latter should let some younger people have a chance at winning the annual tournament, like the last one when he was forced to sit it out. Also, Cid has been placed in charge of Grancel's defenses and Cassius and Morgan are both pleased to see the Royal Army will be in good hands when they retire.
Chapter 3 - The Mad Tea Party
A huge one in terms of overall plot importance. Representatives from Erebonia and Calvard are visiting to discuss the terms of a non-aggression pact and copies of the advanced engines from the Arseille are on offer to encourage the two major powers to agree. While weighty political matters are going on, trouble brews in the form of Kanone, who has managed to evade capture for the past few months and hopes to restart the fighting and rescue Colonel Richard. Also, Duke Dunan is still bitter about how things turned out. Estelle and co meet Renne at Erbe Royal Villa after an extended game of hide and seek and she and Tita immediately become friends, hanging out while the former's parents are busy working. There's mention of Crossbell being a major center of trade and also that its location makes it the source of unrest. You help the army make sure the treaty goes off without a hitch.
There are intermission scenes with Anelace and her partner pursuing some Ouroboros soldiers to an encampment near Bose and Joshua and the Capuas also taking out one of their detachments. Joshua is able to do things he couldn't previously do and Josette has noticed. She also admires Joshua's tattoo, which he had covered up previously.
Back in Grancel, Renne decides to play hide and seek again and you have to follow her around Grancel for a while. When you finish, she tells Estelle that while she was hiding she met a boy with dark hair who gave her a letter and asked her to find Estelle and deliver it to her. The letter is from Joshua and asks Estelle to meet him at Gurune Gate.
Estelle arrives to find Kevin, who also received a note from someone asking him to meet at the gate. Unmanned Ouroboros archaisms attack and the pair realize they've been set up. They hurry back to Grancel to find that the engines are missing, the rest of your party has been knocked unconscious and Kanone has abducted Duke Dunan and Renne. You encounter Agate or Schera (whichever you didn't pick) who has just arrived in town in time to help you fight Kanone. She's piloting a tank equipped with a Gospel device that renders Julia's detachment of Royal Guards helpless while still being able to function on its own. Kevin reveals that he's borrowed the Artifact that Mayor Dalmore had and is able to use its time-manipulating properties to temporarily shut down the Gospel. Julia joins the party for the two part boss fight.
Kanone eventually surrenders and a dazed Duke Dunan climbs out of the tank where he was held hostage. Neither he nor Kanone have any idea who Renne is. Then everyone hears a laugh and looks up to see her perched on the roof of a building. In one of the most dramatic introductions in the series, she re-introduces herself as Enforcer XV, the 'Angel of Slaughter' and thanks everyone for participating in her tea party. She then reveals that her parents were really sophisticated dolls she was controlling, pulls out an enormous scythe and dismembers them. She then calls a fifteen meter tall robot called Pater-Mater who she identifies as her true parent(s), also dropping another reference to the Doll Knight books in the process. Renne climbs aboard and flies away.
Kevin reveals that he is actually a squire in an order of the Church called the Gralsritter (German for 'Grail Knights' and there are references across the series to a 'Star Grail' that we still don't know much about) which exists to find Artifacts and prevent their misuse. He has been operating in Liberl undercover and his mission is to prevent Ouroboros from obtaining the Aureole. The authorities are aware of this and helping him out, hence the previous cutscene with Julia and how he acquired Dalmore's staff.
Kanone is being questioned by Cid and Julia but refuses to help them, despite attempts to appeal to her sense of patriotism. She says the and Richard were already prepared to die for their beliefs and there's nothing they can do that will scare her. Cassius arrives, having consulted with the Queen regarding the recent incident. He thinks an alternate approach is in order and brings Richard in. The ex-Colonel apologizes to Kanone, saying that his pride led to the ruin of so many promising careers, hers included. He thanks her for risking everything to save him but now it's time to let it go. He accepts full responsibility for everything that the members of the now disbanded Intelligence Division have done up to this point.
There's a brief return to Ouroboros' base where Weissmann talks about the Plan a bit and we learn that Renne enjoys literal tea parties with Loewe (as opposed to the crazy kind she recently kicked off in Grancel). Also, she found the last experiment boring because she wasn't allowed to kill anybody. She asks if there's been any word on Joshua and Weissmann suspects that Estelle is in some way the reason he hasn't returned to Ouroboros yet.
Kurt reforms his team from the tournament and they head off on their own to try and figure out where Ouroboros is based. As Estelle's team leaves Grancel to continue their investigations Dorothy stops them and gives Estelle a photograph she took, showing Joshua on the deck of the Bobcat. A playable flashback follows where we see how he helped steal the airship and had an encounter with Mueller, who recognizes him as a survivor of Hamel. Also, it's becoming increasingly obvious that Josette has a massive crush on Joshua as well. I'd say he's the Adol of this series except that he's going to be completely blown out of the water by characters from the later arcs.
Chapter 4 - The Mist Demon's Target
En route to Bose, the airship is forced to stop in Rolent due to an unusually heavy fog. People are seeing phantoms in the mist and some townsfolk have been found unconscious after going out in them. Naturally, you investigate this strange event. Schera gets pensive when people mention hearing the sound of a bell.
The Gospel this Chapter is affixed to that giant tree in Mistwald that didn't seem important in FC. Well, now it is and to get to it you have to navigate the Lost Woods, I mean Mistwald and fight a group of mist-creatures. Schera's expectations are confirmed when a woman reveals herself as the source of the mists; Luciola, Enforcer VI 'The Bewitching Bell'. She's an expert at creating illusions via hereditary techniques including the use of bells. We learn that a long time ago in a country far far away, Scherazard was an abandoned child living in the streets. Luciola was a member of a travelling circus called the Harvey Troupe and took her in. Most of Schera's skills were taught to her in the circus (mainly by Luciola) and she grew up as a performer. The two were separated when the circus broke up following the death of its owner, with Schera's 'big sister' telling her they couldn't stay together. Schera took Harvey as her last name since the circus was the only family she ever knew, made her way to Rolent and with Cassius' help she became a bracer.
Now for a playable flashback. Luciola uses the Gospel to send the party into a deep sleep. Estelle dreams of herself as a little girl, back when her mother was alive (and when she first met Schera while the circus was still intact and touring Liberl). She breaks out of the illusion when she finds Joshua's harmonica, her strongest link back to the real world. She also has a touching conversation with an illusion of her mother.
Oh, and for future reference, while in the dream Cassius notes that the harmonica was made by the Rieveldt Company of Erebonia. Yes, something this tiny will be the subject of Falcom trollery four games later.
Luciola departs but not before letting us know that the dreams and coma-like states that afflicted your party and some of Rolent's population were entirely the work of the Gospel device, which can affect the mind in some way.
Chapter 5 - That Which One Must Protect
Now back on the way to Bose, Estelle has the opportunity to talk to the rest of the party (or rather, the ones in your active party during the boss battle) about what they saw in their own dreams.
At the same time, Campanella is ferrying Luciola and Walter back to base, snarks a bit and informs them that Weissmann will be using the 'crimson ark' for the next phase of the plan. They all speculate as to Joshua's whereabouts and whether he'll find them first or they'll find him. Simultaneously, Weissmann and Loewe walk through Nebel Valley until they reach a cave where Ragnard the Ancient Dragon is sleeping... and when he wakes up he's not terribly happy. Weissmann declares that the final Gospel experiment will now begin.
In Bose, the party offers assistance in investigating Ouroboros activities but right now things seem quiet. Agate talks about his little sister Mischa and Estelle, having no ability to recognize subtext, hopes to meet her soon. An enormous roar and crashing sound is heard and the party runs outside to see a dragon perching on top of a now-wrecked Bose Market, along with Loewe. The latter identifies himself as Enforcer II the 'Bladelord' and tells the group that his real name is Leonhardt but they can call him whatever they like. Since everyone else calls him Loewe, they do as well. Olivier does however recognize Leonhardt as an Erebonian name. Loewe climbs on Ragnard (controlled by the Gospel now affixed to his forehead) and the two fly away.
The party helps clear up the wreckage and free people trapped in the market, including Lila. There's an sidequest involving her where we learn that she was orphaned during the Hundred Day War and taken in by Maybelle's father. Her family is originally from Leman and her aunt came to Liberl to find her missing niece. Lila promises to visit them soon.
Reports come in that the dragon has been sighted over Ravennue and did a number on the place. Agate races ahead to the old mine to confront the dragon and the rest of the group learns that Agate's sister died ten years ago during the war. Agate gets beaten quite thoroughly by Loewe (this time the real deal) and his sword is broken. He figures he's about to die when the party shows up. Ragnard's fire breath forces most of the group back but Tita makes it through and puts herself between Loewe and Agate, declaring that even if Agate teases her and can be a jerk, he's always been looking out for her and now she's going to protect him. Loewe clearly doesn't want to have to hurt her. Fortunately, General Morgan arrives with a gunship and Loewe takes the opportunity to leave with Ragnard.
Tita stays behind in Agate's house in Ravennue to help him recover from his injuries. We learn that he wasn't in Ravennue when the Empire attacked and he blames himself for not being able to save Mischa. The stone he wears around his neck was something she made for his birthday shortly before she died.
The rest of the party, the Royal Guards and the Army come up with a plan to subdue Ragnard using a number of airships and the power of awesome cutscenes. Agate and Tita arrive too late to join the others on the Arseille and the former decides to go pick up a replacement sword when a messenger arrives with a gift from Professor Russell. The operation succeeds but Loewe is nowhere to be found and Ragnard quickly awakens and flees back to Nebel Valley.
Agate and Tita rejoin and we learn that Agate now has a new sword equipped with a prototype unit that should allow him to destroy a functioning Gospel. Following the dragon to his lair, they fight him and Agate succeeds in landing a hit on the Gospel, shattering it and freeing Ragnard from its control. The dragon thanks the party for their help and apologizes for what he did while controlled, giving them Septium to pay to repair all the damage he caused. He informs them that Weissmann was the one controlling him and Loewe was trying to stop him from causing too much damage, which is why nobody was killed. He also mentions that he made a promise 1200 years ago to watch over the land where Aureole sleeps, though he also swore to not interfere in the lives of men. He believes that the Gospel was used on him as a test: If it worked, Weissmann would know he had the key he needed to reach Aureole. Then he fixes his gaze on Estelle and says that she's indeed her father's daughter, revealing that Cassius Bright was the last human Ragnard spoke to before taking his recent twenty year nap, while the latter was training himself in the way of the sword.
Afterwards, Agate and Tita stop by Ravennue to pay their respects to Mischa's grave and see Morgan and Loewe both there with flowers of their own. Morgan comes each year out of regret for the lives he was unable to save during the war. Loewe is there because he and Agate both lost people they loved in the war and everyone allows Loewe to leave unmolested. While leaving he mentions the name of Hamel, which shocks Morgan.
Chapter 6 - The Whereabouts of Bonds
Joshua prepares to leave the Capuas, staging a daring midair drop on an Ouroboros gunship. Before he goes, Josette tells him that she's been thinking. They have a fast airship, after this is over why don't they run away from Liberl and Erebonia and reorganize, becoming a legitimate transportation company. Joshua says that if he survives this, he'll consider it. That wasn't the answer Josette wanted to hear and she runs off. Joshua confesses to Kyle that the world he lives in is too different for them to share but it's also too different for him and Estelle to share. He leaves.
Meanwhile the party is taking a short break at Valleria Lake with Kevin, who has arrived in the area. The brief period of rest ends when Kurt appears, injured and somewhat delirious. Kevin is able to use a technique taught to members of the Church to heal Kurt, who says that he found where Ouroboros' base in Liberl is located but the rest of his team was captured. Estelle, Kevin and two chosen allies take a boat and find the hidden laboratory on the lakeside. Infiltrating it, they find the captured bracers, each of whom fights the party under brainwashing before Kevin is able to heal them. While exploring, the party finds a second Reverie unit which Ouroboros was evidently studying. On the top floor, Estelle finds Joshua unconscious and races to help him. When she turns him over, she sees a faceless machine that was made to look like him, triggering a boss fight. After the battle Weissmann appears and thanks the party for coming before the room fills with gas. When it clears, Weissmann is gone and so is Estelle.
Waking up in a strange location Estelle is greeted by Renne, who welcomes her aboard the Glorious, the massive red airship seen in the SC teaser movie. This is Ouroboros' mobile base. She escorts Estelle to the 'Sanctuary' where Weissmann is playing on a pipe organ that doubles as a control system for the ship. He reveals that he knew that Estelle wouldn't be able to resist rushing to the rescue of her fellow bracers and that it was all a plot to get her to come to him. He makes her an offer: Join Ouroboros as a Enforcer candidate, you have the skills for it and we can teach you how to be stronger. If you're here, Joshua will return and the two of you, Loewe and Renne can all be together. Estelle's response is to try to beat the crap out of Weissmann with her staff, only to be blocked by Loewe's sudden appearance. Estelle is shocked to see all the other Enforcers appear, having had no idea they were all in the room as well.
Estelle is taken back to her room and Loewe stops in. He tells her he doesn't think she'll join Ouroboros, she doesn't have the kind of darkness in her that draws people to it. Estelle asks how he and Joshua are connected so he tells his story. He, Joshua and Joshua's older sister Karin lived in a small town in southern Erebonia. Hamel was attacked one day by jaegers with Liberl-made weapons and Karin was killed, along with almost everyone else he ever knew. Karin died protecting Joshua and that and the shock of killing in self-defense was what left him an empty shell. Loewe also mentions that the Empire covered up the truth and told its people that the town was destroyed in a freak landslide, while using the incident to start a war with Liberl.
Weissmann and most of the Enforcers leave to carry out the next step of the plan. Estelle being Estelle, she breaks herself out of confinement and fights her way to the deck of the Glorious, encounering Gilbert of all people, now a soldier fighting for Ouroboros. Estelle is eventually surrounded only for Joshua to appear, having snuck aboard the ship in an attempt to disrupt Weissmann's plans. Loewe shows up and as he's far stronger than Joshua he sees three options, none of which is 'Joshua escapes with Estelle'. Joshua declares that he has a fourth option as a series of explosives detonate within the Glorious. He set bombs on the ships engines in order to slow it down. Loewe is forced to leave to deal with the situation but he and Joshua know they'll have to fight at some point. Joshua and Estelle fight their way to one of the hangar bays in order to find a ship they can escape in. Campanella appears to block their way and Joshua warns Estelle that like Loewe, this isn't an opponent she can fight. Campanella declares that he's not interested in fighting, though he can't let Joshua leave quite so easily. He summons some unmanned machines for you to fight, then lets you go.
Chapter 7 - The Tetracyclic Towers
Estelle and Joshua land their stolen gunship near Ruan. Joshua says he's truly happy to have seen Estelle again but that there's no place for him in her world and tries to leave. Estelle tears Joshua a new one, telling him that he's been running away from reality and/or his problems ever since his sister died because he's afraid. His 'broken' state after the Hamel Tragedy was fear of acknowledging the reality of Karin's death and his running away from everyone was fear that his past would cause him to lose the people who loves him yet again. It's a great scene for Estelle as she tells Joshua what he needs to hear and reminds him that she's not a fragile doll that needs protecting. The two promise to face whatever comes next together. They're found by the Capuas (awkward for Josette) and return to Grancel.
We learn that the reason Queen Alicia reacted to the mention of Hamel last game is because she learned the truth about it during the peace negotiations but kept quiet in order to maintain the peace. She feels guilty about this but was glad she could apologize to one of the victims in person. For his part, Joshua forgives her and says it was the decision she had to make as a leader. Joshua meets Kevin for the first time and the two talk about something we don't get to hear. Cassius arrives and has his own reunion with Joshua.
All seems well at Grancel and Duke Dunan is even starting to develop into a responsible adult, helping take some of the pressure off Queen Alicia and Kloe. Olivier leaves to return to the Empire for a bit. Suddenly reports come in that something strange has happened to the four towers. The party takes the Arseille to investigate, visiting each in turn. They find the inner structure transformed into something technological and guarded by machines similar to the ones protecting the facility beneath Grancel. They also find a set of data crystals, though the information contained on them is corrupted so they can't be completely read. However, it's clear they were written by the people who sealed Aureole away 1200 years ago and that they were intended as a warning of some kind.
Atop each tower, the party finds a Enforcer waiting for them, having affixed a new design of Gospel to the altars first. After the fights, the Gospels deactivate and the Tower returns to normal. After Walter is beaten he and Zin fight, only for Kilika to arrive and break it up. Before Walter flees, we learn that he and Kilika used to be lovers and he killed his former master in a duel. After Luciola is beaten, she tells Scherazard that the owner of the Harvey Troupe didn't die in an accident eight years ago, she killed him.
Before confronting Renne atop the last tower, Estelle tries to reason with the girl (specifically, the little girl inside her, not the crazy killer) and asks her if this is really what she wants to do. Renne looks like she's thinking about it, only to suddenly whip her scythe out and attack. After the fight, Renne calls Pater-Mater and you have to fight it as well. Renne is upset that Estelle rejected Weissmann's offer and tells Estelle that she had parents once. They left her with strangers and told her over and over that they would definitely come back for her but they never did. Bad strangers. There were other children too and a lot of them died. Then Loewe and Joshua came and made the bad strangers go away. Renne was taken in by Ouroboros, learned lots of things from everyone and now she's strong.
The final Gospel deactivates and Renne tells Estelle that Weissmann told her to wait until that happened, then return to the Glorious post-haste. She flees on Pater-Mater and everyone else leaves and boards the Arseille.
Professor Russell looks at the data crystals and thinks he can restore the recordings with time. He also figures out a way to upgrade everyone's Orbments further than was thought possible. On the bridge of the Arseille, everyone discusses recent the events. Estelle is determined to get through to Renne next time. Joshua comments on Doctor Novartis (the Sixth Pillar of Ouroboros, head of Thirteen Factories) and his creations that the characters have just seen. The term 'Mad Scientist' is used. Hold this thought for a few more games.
Suddenly, the main video display activates and Weissmann's face appears. He's managed to hack into the Arseille's systems to deliver a message: Look to the center of the lake. Everyone rushes outside and watches as a region of sky begins to glow with light. Emerging from the light is a strangely shaped structure, the ancient city Liber Ark. Professor Russell quickly realizes that being airborne right now is a Bad Idea and tells Julia to land the Arseille immediately. A wave of energy spreads out from the Ark looking similar to the one created by the Gospel devices and as it passes through Liberl, all the lights begin to go out. The Arseille manages to land safely, the Bobcat which also happened to be in the area isn't so fortunate and starts to crash.
Chapter 8 - Land of Chaos
A bit of an odd Chapter because it's as short or long as you want to make it. Liberl is completely blacked out and things are a mess. Professor Russell hands out four improved versions of his field cancelling device. Your mission for the Chapter is to deliver three of these units to the Guild branches in Rolent, Ruan and Zeiss, leaving one spare. They can be equipped as items to allow that character to use Arts again and after delivering the three, the plot will progress. You can end the Chapter in about half an hour if you want but it's also an opportunity to visit every part of Liberl at will, find lots of optional monsters who give nice Quartz or unique accessories and complete a few hidden quests. Kloe and Kevin both leave your party, the former because she's decided it's time to take up her responsibilities as a princess and the latter on official Church business. Olivier still hasn't returned so you're kind of shorthanded. The countryside is now swarming with unmanned Ouroboros machines and cybernetically modified animals, along with stranded vehicles. There are also some cutscenes showing the army and Team Kurt rescuing people and generally being awesome.
The major (albeit hidden) plot developments concern a wedding in Rolent, trying to jury-rig a machine in Zeiss in the absence of Orbal power and an unsanctioned Ouroboros attack on Jenis Academy in Ruan (where you can team up with Kurt's team, marking the only point in the series where he's playable). Gilbert in fact is behind the last incident, having decided that if he can capture Princess Klaudia he'll win recognition for himself. Unfortunately, he completely fails to make the Kloe=Klaudia connection until Estelle connects the dots for him. Campanella shows up and is unhappy about the waste of resources. As a side note, the Ravens are helping maintain order in Ruan and have organized a ferry system to get people from one side of the city to the other since the bridge is stuck.
After delivering the last device, an Ouroboros gunship lands in front of Grancel and Bleublanc, Walter, Lucciola and Renne emerge and tear their way through the army unit protecting the city. They head to Grancel Castle as a detachment of their regular soldiers and mecha proceed to make a mess of the city. Reaching the gate, Renne is about to call Pater-Mater to blow it up when Walter stops her and punches the gate down. Duke Dunan helps coordinate an evacuation of the castle and offers to stay and hold the line while the Queen and Kloe get away. Philip stops him as the Enforcers enter the castle, draws a sword and confronts the four on his own, declaring that as the Sword Fox and former commander of the Royal Guard, Ouroboros will have to go through him first.
Sadly, we don't get to see that, though as we see the Enforcers advance on the terrace it's obvious Philip lost but put up a good fight. Renne suggests they have a contest: First one to reach the Queen wins. Estelle and company are close behind, after fighting their way through some Ouroboros machines. They reach the terrace to find the Enforcers with Kloe and the Queen in tow. It comes out that the four of them got bored waiting for Weissmann to give them new orders since Loewe alone was able to handle everything that needed doing for the next step of the plan, so they decided to kidnap some royalty for fun. The situation looks dire as there's no way to take on all four Enforcers at once. Fortunately, they don't have to as Cid arrives and distracts them, buying time for one more reinforcement to arrive: Colonel Richard. Coup attempt or not, Richard is still a patriot and isn't going to allow anyone to harm the royal family now that he's in his right mind again. Then we see that elsewhere in the city, the former members of the Intelligence Division led by Kanone are engaging in a counterattack against Ouroboros. they're winning and Nial and Dorothy are there to record it. Having had their fun, the Enforcers decide to leave, with a parting comment that preparations for the next trial are already complete. When asked, Lucciola says Estelle will know what that means shortly.
As the chaos winds down, a report comes in that an army is massing to the north of Haken Gate. Kloe offers to act as Liberl's representative and the party offers to serve as an escort. What they find is that Erebonia's 3rd Armored Division had arrived on their doorstep utilizing machines that don't rely on Orbal Power and they are quite concerned at what they think is Liberl's new weapon. The division is commanded by Mueller's uncle Zechs Vander. However, the ultimate leader of the unit is the Imperial Prince, Olivert Reise Arnor, Olivier's real identity. He plays the hard line to the hilt and pretends he doesn't know any of you, though he will 'recognize' Estelle as Cassius' daughter. A compromise is worked out where the Arseille will be sent to investigate the Liber Ark so long as the Prince and Mueller can observe and ensure that it isn't a threat to the Empire. They're given three days to return or else the army will attack.
Once they stand down, Olivier drops the act and says that he had to do that in order to maintain some control over the situation as the Empire is genuinely worried about the situation and it's having some internal issues of its own. The Arseille departs with Estelle and co, Kevin, Professor Russel, Nial and Dorothy. Cassius remains behind, explaining that he's well known to Weissmann and his presence might cause the man to do something unpredictable. He is confident that everyone being sent out can handle what they'll find.
On approach to the Liber Ark, the Glorious emerges from the clouds and attempts to shoot the Arseille down. Being far more maneuverable, the white wings of Liberl are able to dodge everything Ouroboros can throw at it and it shoots down several of their smaller ships before making an escape. They break through the clouds and find themselves over the floating city, marveling at the sight. Suddenly one more enemy appears, a reverse-engineered Reverie capable of flight... and it's controlled by Loewe. He quickly files past the ship and his machine's claws tear through one of the engines, sending the ship on a collision course with the city.
Finale - Trails in the Sky
Crews survey the damage to the ship and figure that they have enough time to repair the damage before their deadline expires. Estelle and Joshua volunteer to scout out the city, Nial and Dorothy wander around the Calmare Area photographing everything and Prof. Russell is continuing to restore the information on the data crystals you found in the towers. The Liber Ark is huge, consisting of surface areas linked by underground access corridors. Fortunately each surface area contains a transportation hub allowing you to return to previous areas quickly. In the Cradle Area, you see the Bobcat which managed to crash-land on the city when it lost power. Josette is being threatened by Ouroboros archaisms. One rescue later, she tells Joshua that everyone else was captured. She joins up when you promise to help rescue her family. At one point, you'll be stopped by a door that won't open. You need an Original Gospel, which means you need someone that the computer recognizes as belonging onboard the Ark. Hmm, what name was recorded on those data crystals again? Oh, that's right, Celeste D. Auslese. Bringing Kloe to the terminal, it will recognize her as a descendant of one of the inhabitants and create the Gospel you need.
Reaching the Factoria Area, the party finds a door sealed with a recently added password system. They also see the Glorious docked in the area and sneak onboard. Gilbert appears one last time, declaring that he has improved considerably since the last meeting. He hasn't really. After he's beaten, you can free the sky bandits and will learn the password ORPHEUS. The Capuas will return to the Cradle to repair their own ship.
Finally, the party approaches the center of the city, a massive tower called Axis Pillar. Each floor of the tower contains a locked door which can only be opened by defeating the Enforcer guarding it. There are extra scenes if certain characters are present.
Bleublanc talks about how the faces of people who resist in the face of despair are beautiful so he agreed to participate in the Gospel Plan in order to steal 'hope'. Now, he's been completely captivated by Princess Klaudia's beauty, a shameful state of affairs for a thief like him. After defeating him, he teleports away promising that this is only the beginning.
Walter mocks Zin's unwillingness to kill and we learn that the two had a disagreement over who should inherit the school. Zin was the chosen successor but Walter didn't want to fight him for the position because he was sure Zin would allow him to win. Zin informs Walter that their master agreed to fight him knowing that he was already dying of a terminal illness, wishing to die a martial artist and hopefully teach one more lesson to Walter and Zin about not misusing their skills. He also wanted to prevent Walter and Zin from fighting. Walter belatedly realizes that he totally screwed up there. After one last exchange of punches, he faints while Zin remains standing.
Luciola tells Schera that she was in love with the owner of the Troupe but he planned to sell the circus to a nobleman and leave it all behind. Something inside her snapped and she pushed him off a cliff so he would never leave her, then used her powers to create the illusion of him screaming at a later time when she was with the rest of the troupe and wouldn't be suspected. She left Schera behind because she saw the darkness within her and didn't want to hurt her. She then tries to commit suicide by leaping from Axis Pillar, only for Schera to grab her with her whip, leaving the two hanging over the edge. Schera tells Lucciola that it's not too late to come back. Luciola smiles and says that she agreed to participate in Weissmann's plan so she could see Schera one more time and ensure that she was happy in her new life. Then she says goodbye, cuts the whip and falls.
Finally, Renne tells Estelle that she won't listen to her unless Estelle can beat her first. This time, she fights alongside Pater-Mater. At the end, the robot is damaged and not fully responding to Renne's commands and she looks like she's about to cry. She tells Estelle to open the door and go but Estelle has to try reasoning with the girl one more time. Renne doesn't understand, saying Estelle really doesn't know anything about her. Estelle says it doesn't matter what she doesn't know about Renne, the important part is that she knows she loves her and wants her to be happy. And because she loves Renne, there's something she has to do. Estelle slaps Renne and tells her off for not considering the others she's hurt. Renne says that Estelle is just like those other people... and then Estelle hugs her. She promises not to say anything and asks Renne to listen to her heart. Renne thinks that this isn't so bad, then jerks backwards and calls to Pater-Mater. She tells Estelle and Joshua to get going and that Loewe is waiting for them. She flies away.
As promised, Loewe is waiting at the top of Axis Pillar. He's surprised Estelle and co. made it as fast as they did, thinking he was going to have to wait a while longer. Estelle tells him that she and the others have grown stronger and Loewe tells her not to make the mistake of thinking he's the same as his fellow Enforcers. He boasts that he walks the path of the Shura (it means both a literal demon and 'carnage' generally) and that his full power exceeds that of an S-Ranked bracer or even a Anguis of Ouroboros. Estelle says that doesn't matter, they've come here to stop Weissmann from obtaining Aureole and to prevent a war. Loewe admits that's a pretty good reason to fight. Joshua adds that he wants to confront his weakness. Estelle tries to prevent the fight by pointing out that Loewe and Joshua are each worried about the other but both agree that this is something they have to do. Loewe says he won't go easy on you.
What follows is easily the hardest battle in the game and even if you win, you don't defeat Loewe. Faced with this, Joshua offers to fight Loewe alone, promising to go with everything he has. Their duel is as much about belief as it is about skill and really has to be seen for yourself. In short, Loewe desires to test humanity's potential to learn if Karin's sacrifice was worth it. Joshua disarms Loewe with a final attack, though he's left breathless while Loewe isn't even winded. Still, Loewe declares Joshua the winner, commenting that the fusion of the skills Joshua learned from Weissmann and the moral education he got from Cassius make for an incredible combination. He declares that he has his answer and no longer has any reason to stay with Ouroboros. Joshua and Loewe smile, embrace and generally get as close to giddy as they ever do.
Loewe will have words for everyone in your party, complimenting Agate's skill and determination for example, or discussing the Country=Orbment metaphor from FC with Kloe. If Kevin is in your party, Loewe asks if Kevin knows another Gralsritter who used a bowgun named Rufina. Kevin's surprised reaction shows that he does and that he's equally surprised that Loewe knows the name.
Estelle asks Loewe what he's doing here and, looking at all the devices arrayed in a circle around the top of the tower, asks if this is Aureole. Loewe says that it isn't, rather it's all an antenna which transmits Aureole's power throughout the city in order to cause miracles; Aureole can only project power in a limited distance but it can be expanded with technology. With a network of Gospel devices it could even affect the entire continent. The Ring itself is located in the very center of the Liber Ark, accessed by the elevator Loewe was guarding. Oh, and he reminds Estelle of something also written in the data crystals (at this point fully restored) which is that Aureole can think for itself... and protect itself as well. The machine found in the sealed facility wasn't there to protect it; it was there to stop the attempt 1200 years ago to seal Aureole's power.
At this point, Weissmann appears and declares that the touching reunion has gone on long enough. He blasts Loewe with electricity, chiding Estelle and the others for 'cheating' in their little game by not properly defeating their opponent. Estelle asks what gives Weissmann the right to toy with lives in that way and he tells her she still hasn't figured out the true purpose of the Gospel Plan. He blames Joshua for throwing off his precise timetable and then he says it's time for the puppet to return to its rightful place and snaps his fingers. Joshua's tattoo begins to glow and Joshua moves to stand beside Weissmann.
Weissmann explains that in healing Joshua ten years ago, he also implanted a form of absolute suggestion which he calls a 'Stigma'. What appeared to be a tattoo in the shape of the Mark of Ouroboros was actually its physical form, one which only reappeared when Joshua's memories were restored at the end of FC. Weissmann tells Estelle that if she wants Joshua back, she'll have to follow him into the heart of the city. He teleports away with Joshua.
Loewe tells Estelle not to worry about him and to go after then, explaining how to work the elevator. Trouble arrives in the form of two TM Dragion units. When it looks like they won't be able to fight their way past them, everybody else appears and begins firing on the machines, telling Estelle to get going. She and the other two members from your party descend down Axis Pillar and into the core. A third Dragion unit slips past the characters still on the top and you have to fight it. Finally, the elevator reaches Themelios, the heart of the floating city.
At the very center of the Liber Ark, Aureole waits along with Weissmann. He tells Estelle that it's appropriate that there be witnesses to the miracle that is about to occur. He goes into lecture mode and explains how in ancient times, Eidos gave mankind the Sept-Terrion. Seven groups used their power to create their own ideal societies. Aureole's power gave the inhabitants of the Ark a floating paradise, allowing them to pursue their scientific, artistic and philosophical dreams without ever having to worry about base needs; literally providing them whatever they desired. In time, having everything led to a kind of moral decay with all sorts of crime occurring, people exhibiting addiction-like symptoms to the miracles they had become accustomed to and suicides increasing. Aureole cared nothing for this and kept providing the miracles it was asked for. The woman who would become the founder of the Kingdom of Liberl recognized this for what it was and sealed Aureole and the Ark away in another dimension.
Weissmann asks if that was really the right decision, noting that the result was the eventual and complete collapse of the ancient civilizations. If people look around them today, they'll see the same things recurring as the Orbal Revolution has made life easy for so many people. Therefore, humanity is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past, therefore something must be done before there is another repeat of the moral decay of the Liber Ark or the material chaos of another Great Collapse. Weissmann's ambition and the ultimate goal of the Gospel Plan is to use the Ring's power to evolve humanity so people have the control to not be overcome by adversity or emotions and the intelligence to always make the 'correct' decisions. This is the mission he has been entrusted with as one of the Anguis in the service of the Grandmaster of Ouroboros.
Estelle responds that before Weissmann thinks of doing something so drastic, he should consider other solutions. She believes (and has plenty of examples to back it up) that people can accomplish anything if they're willing to reach out and work together. Weissmann laughs and says that if she wants to prattle ignorantly at him, she should show him the potential of humanity that she thinks shines even in the depths of despair. Controlling Joshua, Weissmann orders him to attack Estelle. Joshua completely overpowers her and Weissmann orders him to kill her, planning to remove Joshua's Stigma just afterwards, in order to see the look on his face as he realizes what he just did. Then Joshua's heart will be shattered again and he can be remade in Weissmann's image once more. Estelle apologizes for not being able to keep her promise to return home with Joshua but says she still believes in him. He raises his blades to strike... and attacks Weissmann.
The Professor is stunned that Joshua overcame his Stigma and is told that Kevin was able to modify it ever so slightly, conditioning it to self-destruct if a particular command was given. Weissmann realizes that Cassius must have been involved and Joshua confirms it. Joshua apologizes for not warning Estelle in advance. Weissmann declares that he doesn't need Joshua anyway and challenges the party to fight Weissmann the Faceless and die. One cathartic ass-kicking later, Weissmann declares a change of plans. Rather than take Aureole and leave, he will use its power himself and begin the final phase of the Gospel Plan right here. He leaps into the center of Aureole, which shines with a blinding light.
Weissmann is transformed into Angel Weissmann, an enormous white creature with no legs, what looks like wings folded over the front of his body and too many eyes. Oh, and a completely impenetrable barrier created by Aureole, which is embedded in the center of his torso. When nothing is able to harm Weissmann and all seems hopeless, Loewe arrives on his Dragion. Weissmann asks what he thinks he's doing and Loewe responds with a question of his own: What role did you play in the Hamel Tragedy? Weissmann says that the entire thing was part of a plan by the Nobles, who were facing a political bind and needed a winnable war. All Weissmann did was introduce them to some jaegers looking for work and whispered a certain name into the right ears.
Loewe expected this answer and Weissmann is surprised at how calm he is. Loewe says that he calmed his heart long ago and that Weissmann should have killed him when he had the chance. He draws his sword, leaps and rams it through Weissmann's supposedly impenetrable barrier. Weissmann can't believe anything could pierce a barrier created by the Sept-Terrion that grants absolute dominion over Space, until Loewe reminds him of an important fact. His sword was a gift from the Grandmaster, much like Weissmann's own staff. Its name is Kernviter and it was forged using the Divergent Laws so there is nothing it cannot cut. Weissmann's barrier is shattered and Loewe is thrown back, greatly injured but giving Estelle and the others the opportunity they needed.
After the fight goes on for a while, Aureole modifies Weissmann's body again. When defeated, Aureole separates from Weissmann vanishes. Weissmann returns to human form and teleports away, injured but alive.
Loewe lays dying of his injuries. Joshua begs him not to go, leaving him alone just like when Karin died. He thinks he still needs Loewe, only to be told that he's become strong and able to stand on his own. Loewe asks Joshua to live and thanks Estelle for looking after Joshua. He says that he finally realizes why Karin smiled as she died, then closes his eyes forever. With its power source gone, the Liber Ark begins to shake. Joshua refuses to leave Loewe's side, telling Estelle to go on ahead. She reminds him what Loewe just said about living on and that whatever happens next, they'll face it together. Unable to take Loewe's body with him, Joshua picks up his sword and flees with the rest.
Elsewhere, Weissmann limps through Axis Pillar, thinking to himself that the Grandmaster's predictions didn't suggest anything like what happened. He stops and wonders if he was being tested in some way. He realizes that the only way he'll know is if he returns, only to hear a voice telling him that isn't going to happen. Kevin steps out of the shadows and Weissmann tells him that it's time to pay him back for his interference with Joshua's Stigma.
Weissmann tries to use his mind-controlling powers, only to be met with a barrier that protects Kevin. He asks when mere Squires learned how to protect against his evil eye, only to be told by Kevin that he's just a bit higher ranked than that and played Weissmann for a fool. Then he declares that it's time to end the charade: His true purpose in Liberl was never to obtain Aureole for the Church, instead he was sent to assassinate the vile heretical priest Georg Weissmann. He pulls out his bowgun, loads an arrow and fires.
Weissmann grunts and starts to tell Kevin that a simple arrow isn't going to kill him. Mid-sentence, he stops, drops his staff and looks down in horror to see that his body is slowly crystallizing. He realizes that Kevin has just shot him with a Salt Bolt, an accursed weapon born out of the incident that 'reduced North Ambria to a sea of salt'. He asks if Kevin was really willing to do such a thing, just to kill him. Kevin says that Weissmann went too far and the Church could no longer afford to ignore him, asking Weissmann to be a good boy and die for him. With his last breath, Weissmann curses Kevin before his entire body turns to salt.
Kevin thinks to himself that he envies Joshua, who still has hope for redemption. A voice from the air asks if that's jealousy he's hearing, followed immediately by Campanella teleporting in. Kevin recognizes him as The Fool and tells him he came too late. Campanella responds that his purpose was merely to observe and he will report that Weissmann's death was an unavoidable consequence of his own actions. He also identifies Kevin right back: The Fifth Dominion, the 'Heretic Hunter'. Both agree that there's much they don't know about the other's organization.
Campanella declares that his task is almost complete, he just has to recover some lost property first. He casually shatters Weissmann's statue, then picks up the staff he left behind, which is now glowing with a golden light. He vanishes and Kevin wonders if he just saw what he thought he did, only to conclude that even if so, it's not his problem right now.
Everyone (including Kevin again) flees through an internal passageway that leads back to where the repaired Arseille waits as the city continues to fall apart around them. Joshua is feeling the aftereffects of his Stigma being removed. He and Estelle are separated from the others and tell them to go ahead, they'll find another way back. Reaching an outside area, they see the path they could have taken crumble away and realize they're trapped. They realize they're going to die but neither is scared. They hug, finally share a proper kiss and hold on as the Liber Ark falls apart around them and they fall with it.
The Arseille and Bobcat flee, with Sieg helping guide them through the debris. The city falls apart in a most spectacular fashion and its remains crash into the lake below.
Estelle and Joshua's fall is interrupted by a most unexpected source: Ragnard, with Cassius riding on his back. Cassius explains that as soon as Orbal power started working again, he left Morgan in charge and immediately went to Bose to ask for a favor. Ragnard explains that with the Ring gone, his ancient promise has expired and he is free to act as he pleases. He also says that the gears of fate are only just beginning to turn and they can no longer be stopped. Estelle and Joshua hold hands as Ragnard catches up to the two airships and the credits begin to roll.
Among the images seen in the credits are Kurt and Anelace at the Bose branch of the Guild, Kloe, Julia and the Queen on the balcony of Grancel, Zin walking away from Kilika, Olivier and Mueller in uniform, Tita hugging her parents (facing away from the camera), Agate training the Ravens with practice swords, the Capuas on the bridge of the Bobcat, Kevin standing in front of a church and Cassius, Scherazard and Aina at Rolent's airport.
Finally, there's one more scene. Estelle and Joshua stand together in front of Karin's grave. Estelle lays a wreath of flowers on the grave and Joshua lays Kernviter. They pay their respects and discuss what Ragnard said about the future. Their immediate plan is to find Renne wherever she is, then to investigate Ouroboros. They don't know what the future has in store but they promise to see it through to the end, together.