This is the second of two theories submitted by Bronzefrog of Gamefaqs!
Not for love, not for money, not for justice, and not for peace. The disloyal loyalist, the double agent, Mcburn the Ironblood. Building off my previous theory about Osborne’s plans for Cold Steel 3!
Spoilers for Cold Steel and Cold Steel II behind the cut.
Now, three things off the bat: There’s no smoking gun in my double agent theory, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence involved, and I said that Mcburn is a double agent. I never said he was a spy, but we’ll get to that in due time.
Let’s go back to the theory past, step by step, before 1192. Osborne is mentoring Rufus, Mcburn, and a spy. We come to the investigation over Hamel, which is something that a normal human can do. But given that Weissman is somewhere in the mess, there’s a possibility that he used the Church’s thaumatology for his “suggestions” in the right ears.
The question has to be asked: Can a Mixed person feel if someone has had their mind altered by arcane means? I’d say it’s possible, given the long list of things that Rean has reacted to. If that is the case, then Rufus’s involvement gains additional scope: He scrutinizes for suspects among the nobility whom he meets and greets, and Mcburn “sniffs” out the ones who are under control and who are not. The Jade Rook boxes in the enemy, and the Hell Hound sniffs out the hell bound.
The war ends, and Rufus’s mission begins. But what about Mcburn and the spy, the two other Ironbloods in this theory?
Both take a mission to infiltrate the Society of Ouroboros. Now, why is Mcburn not the spy? Because he would not be a good one. His power attracts attention, a lot of attention. He is not a discrete person by nature or by behavior. A man with his personality suddenly becoming interested in information and becoming furtive and secretive would be a gigantic red flag to any member of Ouroboros. He is no Joshua.
So why send him in? Because when you look directly at a raging fire in complete darkness, you are blinded. Your perception of your surroundings is weakened but you keep looking in its direction.
And when Mcburn joined Ouroboros, it was enough to keep everyone’s attention to himself for the Spy, Ironblood #3, to Sam Fisher into the organization, unseen and unheard past all the defenses that Ouroboros keeps against the outside. And with that, the spy spent their time as a phantom, risking their life to tail their marks in dark corridors and tap into their conversations. Slowly, and surely recording everything they saw and heard, following one thread of information to the next, and passing on the intelligence dossiers to Osborne.
Not a conventional use of the Blazing Demon in truth, but it is a brutally cunning bait and switch.
The final part of Mcburn’s mission within Ouroboros will be to attack Osborne’s enemies on his specific order, at the least expected moment which I think is coming in CS3. His bonus will be the opportunity to gain enormous amounts of enmity from the Grandmaster and the Anguis, and fight unbound against some of the most dangerous people in all of existence.
That said, what’s the evidence for my theory? There are only bits and what could be hints or red herrings.
In the prologue, Mcburn’s introduction on the Pantagruel is as a languid man who shrugs and goes “yeah, sure” to Rufus’s request. He is not enthusiastic about it, but this is not dissimilar to how he responds to Rean’s question about “Mixed” during the Intermission actually. Given his own interactions with Duvaile, Bleublanc and what he says about Vita during the 3rd Stratum, it does seem a bit out of place for him to be like that to what should be strangers.
But there’s a few things that Mcburn says during the Intermission that caught my attention too, especially how he said that people like himself and Rean usually have something “mixed” into them. That sounds like he has met others like themselves.
Given Rean’s parentage, it does seem a bit suspicious. Now, just because Rean is mixed doesn’t mean that Osborne is or Rean’s mother is. But when you bringi Emma to the 3rd Stratum, she theorizes about Ouroboros’s Divergent Laws which is the one thing all game that gets Mcburn to shut someone down. He still does confirm the connection between the Laws and being Mixed, but is not going to say a single word about his past given his mood.
Remember, Osborne’s association with Ouroboros itself started the same year that Rean was adopted and lost his memories. Osborne might not be Mixed – but I’d be deeply surprised if he didn’t know something, anything about it at this point. After all, Mcburn knows enough about how different it is from magic, orbments, artifacts and the power of the Church’s stigmas.
And now we get into the “truly reaching” section.
- Mcburn knows enough to call Claire an Orbal Calculator, and knows she’s an officer.
- Mcburn gets two different introduction titles, once in Aurochs Canyon and once in the Infernal Castle. A bit like a person with two identities.
- During the cast opening after Magic Knight Round 1, Mcburn appears between the Zephyr commanders and Altina and Lechter, between people who have shown a pretty hefty amount of loyalty to their leader. He is not grouped with the rest of the Ouroboros members.
- Mcburn is the only one on the Pantagruel during the Azure Tree scene who wonders if Phantasmal Blaze will go the way Vita and Campanella want it go. And he does it with a smile.
- Mcburn is more willing to go and assist the 4th Division in storming Bareahard than Duvaile was, and had fewer problems just leaving the Duke to his fate than she did.
- As someone who is not from Erebonia, he would have no records and no documents to erase. In an investigation, his identity would be contingent only on those who have seen him.
And finally, even if he is not as powerful as the Steel Maiden of Ouroboros or the Carnelia of the Church, he is still more than powerful enough to even out the narrative odds facing Osborne for Cold Steel 3 if he is truly his man.
That’s it for now!