One last look at Erebonia and its parallels before the madness of CS3.
One thing that andi recently noticed in a user-submitted post was the large number of references to Lord of the Rings in the Erebonia games. One can also note a great number of possible similarities to another work of fiction which drew on the same body of stories for its inspiration: Richard Wagner’s four-part cycle of music dramas. Given the shared mythology at work, one is strongly tempted to assume that there’s more at work here than just Falcom making cool references. Now, I don’t think that Falcom is going to follow the outline of the story exactly (or CS3 is going to go some very weird places) but I think there’s a solid foundation that they’re building upon that we can use as the basis for some predictions. So, let’s take a look at the Ring and see what we can think up.
Sadly, Aureole has already been done, so no jokes about the Rheingoldia One Shining Ring of Weissberich… but there’s plenty of juicy material to be had regardless. So, let’s look at some of these parallels.
Setting the Stage
This one’s fairly easy, it’s the Sept-Terrion. Both are the factors that drive the plot of the respective stories and the attempts to claim them cause nothing but strife. Let’s just have in the back of our heads that this parallel exists and move on.
Alberich the Nibelung stole the gold to forge the Ring by denying all love. When the Ring was stolen from him by Wotan, he cursed it so that all would desire it and whoever held it would never rest easy. These twin curses drive the remainder of the story. Erebonia too seems to be suffering under at least two curses, one of which is ongoing. That is the Divine Knight cycle, where these ancient creations are reawakened and drawn into battle with one another, before the Hexen erase all memories of their existence until it all happens again. The other curse would be Zoro Agruga’s but I’ll get to that in a minute.
An artifact that recurs throughout the majority of the Ring is the sword Nothung, left buried in the trunk of a tree until the one it was meant for pulled it out. Which sounds somewhat like the Divine Knights, waiting in their structures and guarded behind Trials until the ‘Promised Day’ when their Awakener will claim them. Keep this in mind.
When Falcom picks the title character from the third work in the Ring cycle to name one of theirs, you know they didn’t pick it at random. And when it was revealed that this individual is (or at least strongly appears to be) a resurrected Crow, the significance is heightened. There are a couple of interesting points about Siegfried as a character that are interesting. First is the famous scene in which Siegfried reforges the broken Nothung. This sounds rather like an Awakener claiming their Divine Knight, and given the CS3 information, possibly we can take it as the basis for predicting that ‘Siegfried’ at some point reclaims his damaged but then repaired Ordine.
Another point about Siegfried that I think is significant is that he spends the majority of the final work with amnesia, courtesy of a magic potion. Whether this could be an element that Falcom literally uses with Crow or if there is a more symbolic cutting of ties with his past life in his choice to not use his real name, we don’t know but it will be interesting to see where things go. He certainly isn’t trying to hide his identity from outsiders; that mask fools nobody. Either way, interesting potential parallel. Siegfried also famously dies in the course of Wagner’s cycle while his incarnation in Kiseki is Crow and his story begins with death.
There’s also an interesting parallel to be drawn between Siegfried’s death as the catalyst for the titular ‘twilight of the gods’ and Crow’s double saber being named Ragnarok, which has the same meaning.
It’s probably not a coincidence that Erebonia has the Gnomes, who according to the stories told in Erebonian Folklore sound very similar to the Nibelungs of Wagner, associated with the underground and famed for their craftsmanship. Tolkien drew on the same material to create his dwarves. So I don’t think this is terribly significant on its own but it’s one more small thing to remember. More importantly and evidence that Falcom was very specifically thinking about Wagnerian parallels is the case of the mystery Infiltrator. A quickly-removed website leak early this year revealed a number of characters who were later confirmed to appear but hadn’t been announced yet, including Towa, Randy, Tita and Aurelia. It also revealed the existence of the Infiltrators, including a third one who hasn’t yet appeared in any official capacity. Perhaps it was originally intended to be Rutger or perhaps there’s still one more out there that Falcom’s keeping a secret. The important thing though is that this mystery individual was identified as ‘Black Alberich’, the titular Nibelung of Wagner’s opus.
Two names on their own don’t make a pattern but with all the other parallels at work, it’s certainly evidence that they had Wagner on their minds when naming characters and that suggests the possibility of more at work beneath the surface. You can also get to three names in Cold Steel (the amount where I’d feel comfortable saying it is a pattern) if you go to the larger body of Wagner’s work, in the form of the perpetually significant Lohengrin Castle.
Here Be Dragons
Both Wagner and Cold Steel have a dragon who plays a major role in the story, representing a turning point in the narrative. In Wagner, Fafner was the giant who killed his brother to possess the Ring, then under the grip of its curse he used a magic helm to transform himself into a dragon in order to guard his treasure until he was slain by Siegfried. Erebonia has Zoro Agruga, the dragon responsible for the destruction of the original city of Heimdallr, the cursing of Testa-Rossa and quite likely other things as well, given that its miasma seems to be returning in CS3. I mentioned earlier that two curses drive the plot of The Ring, well the same can be applied to Erebonia’s dragon. Zoro Agruga’s appearance represented one turning point in Erebonian history and its curse persisted after its death in the form of Vermillion Apocalypse and whatever is happening in CS3, just as the curse of the Ring that Fafner possessed persisted until the very end of the drama.
This one should require no explanation, but if you want to have the iconic music playing while you’re reading this, be my guest. The Stahlritter and Arianrhod are actually called valkyries by other characters in Ao no Kiseki. The titular valkyrie Brunnhilde is divine, the daughter of two Gods. She fought to defend one hero, then for defying the will of Wotan she was placed in a magical sleep until she could be awakened and from there, fulfill her destiny. A possible additional parallel is the (unintentional) betrayal of Brunnhilde by the man she loved. Arianrhod already has some potential parallels here; As Lianne Sandlot she fought on the side of Dreichels in the War of the Lions and became a saint of the Septian Church. She remarked then that she would remain by his side ‘until the day the Goddess calls me to Hers’. Then something happened and Lianne vanishes from the pages of history (possibly to do with Erebonia’s ‘dark past’ a la Brunnhilde’s betrayal?) until almost three centuries later when Arianrhod appears, serving the Grandmaster of Ouroboros who may well be that Goddess. And we’re told that Arianrhod has personal reasons to be involved in Phantasmal Blaze…
An additional minor parallel and a sign that Falcom was definitely thinking in Wagnerian terms is that Laura’s strongest sword in CS2 is named Brynhildr, which is another way to render Brunnhilde and the weapon could just as easily have been romanized that way instead. That Laura and her family have an oft-teased but still unspecified connection to Arianrhod makes this even more interesting.
Loge, the Divine Fire
One of the Gods of Valhalla in Wagner’s cycle is Loge, the trickster who assists Wotan in seizing the Ring. As the God of Fire he is also instrumental in bringing about the final end of the gods at the conclusion of the cycle. Keep him in mind.
Norns and Rhinemaidens, the Water Bearers
Wagner’s work contains two trios of women associated with water. The Norns are beings who rule over fate and also water the world-tree Yggdrasil. The Rhinemaidens meanwhile are the guardians of the gold from which the Ring was forged and in the end of the story they reclaim it. Again, keep the symbolism in mind and consider for a moment that the Master Art card for Water is a woman pouring water…
What It Means
Now that the basic parallels have been set up, let’s take a look at the end of the Ring Cycle and where Falcom could be going with this.
Brunnhilde the Hero
At the conclusion of the fourth and final part of the cycle, it is Brunnhilde rather than Siegfried who comprehends the nature of the Ring and what must be done to cleanse it of its curse. She takes the Ring and sacrifices herself on Siegfried’s funeral pyre, which is the signal for Loge to fulfill his own desire to become the blaze that ends the Gods. I think that Falcom is setting Arianrhod up for a potential sacrifice in a similar manner. One possibility is that her continued existence is acting in some way to prevent the freeing of one or both of Erebonia’s Sept-Terrion, in which case she will sacrifice herself so that the treasures can be claimed by the Grandmaster. The other possibility is that the treasures are cursed in some way related to Zoro Agruga and someone needs to sacrifice themselves in order to cleanse this corruption. In either case, Arianrhod has the parallels and I believe she would be the one to do it.
Lastly, why I believe that all these Wagnerian parallels are meant to foreshadow the nature of Erebonia’s two Sept-Terrion. At the conclusion of the Ring, Brunnhilde’s sacrifice ignites the sacred fire that destroys the old Gods and their order. At the same time, the Rhine floods and extinguishes Brunnhilde’s pyre, allowing the Rhinemaidens to finally reclaim their stolen treasure. I believe the parallel is clear. The CS3 trailer ends with the expression ‘The end of everything begins’. If we’re looking at the beginning of an apocalyptic story and if the Wagnerian symbolism is purposeful then the end of all things should follow the pattern of the cycle and it should involve the Sept-Terrion of Fire and Water. And a sacrifice of some sort by which the Grandmaster is able to reclaim these treasures from whatever fate befell them over a thousand years ago.