In my last theory, The Eyes of Ra, I focused mostly on connecting the Arc en Ciel play from Zero no Kiseki to the potential Sept-Terrion(s) of Calvard, and at the end, I briefly brought up that Calvard comes from the latin calvor meaning “to deceive” making Calvard the “Land of Lies”. Hell, even the emblem, a leaf blocking the sun, could be a metaphor for obscuring the truth. This theory reviews the connection between the name of each country and the themes of the stories told in them while making a set of predictions for the Calvard arc based on this link.
The themes being linked to the name of the country isn’t particularly new and honestly makes me think that Falcom planned parts of the later arcs even before releasing Trails in the Sky. For example, Liberl, coming from the english word liberal, is a coming of age story interlaced with Plato’s Allegory of the Cave; Crossbell is a story about overcoming barriers (i.e. perseverance) which makes sense in the japanese context where Cross is represented by an X (not the crucifix) symbolizing blocking; and Erebonia, derived from the greek god of darkness, is a story about hope and overcoming despair through our bonds with others. It’s not a huge leap of judgement to suggest that Calvard will be a story about finding the truth in a sea of lies. Furthermore, with how similarly structured each of the arcs are, I can probably interpolate several key components of the next arc which is what I am going to attempt to do here.
1. The main character will be a journalist or a journalism intern for a newspaper, the Anti-Immigration Party will be the beta villain organization, and the CID will be the primary one.
In the first arc, our protagonist, Estelle, and much of the supporting cast are bracers, members of an international guild dedicated to protecting and aiding the general public regardless of nationality. For the most part, they take requests from clients ranging from monster extermination to finding a lost cat in exchange for a relatively small fee. Bracers have the freedom to satisfy requests any way they choose but are advised to satisfy them in a manner that best respects the intention of the client. They are essentially the organization best representative of liberalism on the continent. Their initial opposition is the royal intelligence division which is dedicated to re-militarization of Liberl to defend against foreign invaders from the northwest and northeast. They represent old ideas, fear of the outside, and most importantly control of the country from the shadows. They can be best described as the opposite of liberal. In the second part, we are introduced to the true villains, the Society of Ouroboros, who’s enforcers are given unlimited freedom to choose how they enforce the Anguis’s plans; however, this freedom is a twisted false freedom. They may technically have the freedom to do as they wish, but their own internal darkness shackles them. There is nothing connecting any individual Enforcer to any one plan, but not once has an enforcer refused activation. They typically act whimsical or free spirited but are all held down by something in their past. Hell, this is even true for Weissman being the survivor from North Ambria and even possibly Blueblanc based on his alleged backstory from the 3rd.
Zero no Kiseki introduces us to the SSS which is a new police division founded to serve as the “bridge” between the people of Crossbell and the government. They are effectively bracers, but unlike them, they are allowed to interfere in government affairs, essentially giving the people of Crossbell a new voice. Despite the countless barriers they face, they continue to persevere through all challenges set before them. Their initial rivalry is the crime syndicate, Revanche, which acts as a symbol of the status quo of Crossbell. The political system is dysfunctional and bribery is rampant which gives them free reign over the city leaving the police helpless to do anything substantial about it. They represent “the face” of the barriers that the Crossbell people face, and it is this lack of oversight that Joachim takes advantage of. The true villains later turn out to be the Crois Clan and their entourage who persevered through 1200 years of labor to recreate their lost treasure. However, like with Ouroboros, it’s a false perseverance. Let’s start with the Red Constellation. Sigmund is eldest member of ancient clan of Berserkers that has survived for centuries to become one of the two most renowned Jaeger corps on the continent, but he is unwilling to take the mantle of leader. Shirley is similar; she appears to enthusiastically pursue any challenge but truly is just bored and disconnected. Next we have Arios who appears capable of overcoming any challenge but is held back by the guilt of indirectly killing his best friend. Ian pursued his objective of Crossbell Liberation for years but once it has been achieved, he loses all motivation to maintain it. Finally, Mariabelle finished her ancestors long sought out objection but couldn’t care less about what it does after the fact.
Finally, Erebonia has students i.e. youth who use their bonds to form hope allowing them to power through despair. Influenced by bracers, Class VII was founded by Prince Oliviert to satisfy Thor’s mission statement and acts as a light of hope in Erebonia’s dark times. The first set of villains, the Imperial Liberation Front (ILF), is made up of individuals that have had their hopes and dreams trampled on by Ironblood Chancellor. All of the primary members seek revenge against the Chancellor for it (except G who joined on philosophical grounds) but once they succeed, they have nothing left but despair, and both Vulcan and Scarlet try to use Rean and Valimar as a suicide method. The real villains are the Ironbloods, a group of promising youths in high ranking positions working directly under the command of Chancellor Osborne. During the first half of the story, they act as a beacon of hope for the party, often acting as a Deus Ex Machina. The second half twists this with them becoming agent of the Twilight. After Millium’s death, Claire and Lechtor completely fall into nihilism and despair working for Osborne solely out of lack of hope and lack of will to do otherwise. Even as they lose their final battle, they comment that they never saw any chance of victory for the party. Then we have Rufus who was manipulated by the curse using his strong inferiority complex as a noble bastard. Even Osborne finally agreed to be Ishmelga’s awakener in his moment of despair becoming the one who lights the black flames of despair across the entire world.
Looking at the above example, there seems to be a trend in each arc where you have the main party representing the theme of the arc and a set of disc one villains which are diametrically opposed to the heroes only to be superseded by the true villains which represent the contradiction of the theme. Assuming truth will be the major theme, Calvard’s party would be seekers of the truth, and there is no better type of organization to represent this than a newspaper publisher. To keep with the theme of bracers-lite, I suspect the protagonist will be a new member of the investigative journalism division of the company which will have them travel all over the country to gather information. Sometimes this will require helping others in exchange for information (sidequests) or going undercover. To oppose them would probably be Anti-immigration party which uses lies and propaganda to incite racial hatred and gain political capital. Continuing with the trend set with Ironbloods, an educated guess for main villainous organization would be the Calvard Intelligence Division (CID). Since Calvard appears to be loosely based on American, it’s interesting to note that CID has a close acronym to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) which was notorious for cover ups and other shady thing.
2. Lying to oneself or trust will be a major character theme
Estelle, at least at the beginning, is ignorant of most of the world outside her small town of Roland and is generally averse to learning, preferring to use her instincts over the advice of others. She didn’t pay attention to the creed during Schera’s lectures before taking the junior bracer exam; she doesn’t know much about fairly recent history; she doesn’t even know much about her own country despite having lived there her entire life. Throughout the story, she is constantly being corrected by everyone around her, but it never really comes to bite her in the butt until the cliffhanger at the end of FC which leads to her Heroic BSOD at the beginning of SC. She finally admits that all this time she knew nothing about Joshua. Afterwards, she decides to start taking things seriously, and by the end of the prologue of SC, she has matured into educated and experienced bracer.
Lloyd’s entire character arc is based around persevering through all barriers to deliver justice for his brother’s murder. However, he later learns that the one who killed his brother is none other than Arios, the strongest man in all of Crossbell and his brother’s best friend, who becomes the first and only barrier that Lloyd and SSS cannot overcome. Lloyd gets imprisoned and the rest of the SSS are locked away all over the region. He loses his will to continue and has to be snapped back to reality by Garcia of all people. The two then stage a prison break so that he can rescue the rest of the SSS and save KeA. It’s highly symbolic then that the final key to undo the barrier around Crossbell City is guarded by the Steel Maiden herself, arguably the strongest member of Ouroboros and possibly all of Zemuria, the most insurmountable of barriers. Simply being able to withstand her onslaught is enough of a victory to suggest that the SSS can overcome any remaining challenge.
For as long as he can remember, Rean had a mysterious power giving him beyond human strength; however, using the power makes it difficult to control himself which has led to a fear of hurting those he loves. Furthermore, he was adopted as a commoner by a nobleman causing his father to lose public influence which is something he feels personally responsible for. The story goes on and the civil war breaks after someone who supposedly was one of his friends pulls the trigger. He finally pulls himself together and tries to act as a third faction in the war, but all is for naught when Crow gets stabbed through the heart, Rufus was a double agent, and Osborne isn’t actually dead making Crow’s sacrifice for nothing. Osborne then abuses Rean’s position as both the Ashen Awakener and his son to force him to invade Crossbell and then later North Ambria, both of which he feels shame for. Then again in Sen III, Class VII efforts prove for naught in the Gral of Erebos, and now, not one, but two of his friends have been killed right in front of him. He finally breaks and loses control of himself, destroying the Holy Beast and unleashing Ishmelga. It’s no coincidence that the source of Erebonia’s darkness is freed at Rean’s darkest hour. However, his friends don’t give up on him, and with their help, he is able to return from the depths of hell serving as a beacon of hope that the power of the curse is not absolute. And so, the process repeats itself though this time fortune is in his favor. He and his friends challenge and defeat the Jaeger King and the Saint, and he finally pushes out the last bit of darkness clouding his mind to claim the title of Divine Blade. He and Class VII then enter the gnome fortress as the last hope to stop the world being devoured by Twilight. After Ishmelga starts corrupting Valimar, it is the bonds that Rean has developed over 4 games that pushes the creature out of it and creates the one and only chance to defeat the Darkness for once and for all.
This all leads me to suspect that Calvard’s MC is going to have a form of lying as character flaw. I can see this being done in several ways. They could be lying to themselves about the truth of some incident or subconsciously denying the existence of a traumatic event. The individual could have dissociative identity disorder (DID) derived from the event. They could also be hiding a big secret from the rest of the party and even the player. If they went with the Isekai route, it would neat if they made the character a foil to McBurn where, as an amnesiac from the outside, they don’t want to learn the truth about themselves. The Heroic BSOD could be pretty tragic based on McBurn’s post-fight dialogue in the Gnome Fortress. The other possibility I’ve come up with is trust where the MC has difficulty trusting others due to some traumatic experience. They would slowly recover as the arc continues only for another major betrayal to happen later leading to the Heroic Breakdown.
3. Schemers and Liars
To describe Liberlian culture and society, it is a constitutional monarchy with a history of fostering continental peace. National laws are determined by the royal assembly consisting of the queen, the mayors of the major regions, the Dean of Janis academy, and the current head of the royal army. The mayors are democratically elected by the people of their respective district and the nobility minus the royal family themselves have been effectively eliminated for almost a century. The Queen openly supports the arts and sciences by funding the Zeiss Central Factory (ZCF) and Janis Royal Academy as well as gives both institutions a seat in the assembly. Furthermore, she is willing to share this culture with neighboring countries through free exchange of technology, and travel in and out of the country is open to everyone with minimal scrutiny. The people of Liberl are generally forthcoming with their opinions and open to helping others. They communicate well with foreigners, even those from Erebonia, and there are surprisingly few grudges held from the hundred days war.
Crossbell is a contested buffer region between the two biggest powers on the continent–Erebonia and Calvard–and is literally barricade in on all sides. In particular, from the west points two railway guns to destroy the city in just a few hours if Calvard were to try to occupy it. The city is technically an autonomous state but any legislative measure requires approval of both the Erebonian and Calvard congressmen who disagree on essentially every issue. Both sides are hopelessly corrupt and backed by various crime syndicates aiming to loot the people of Crossbell as much as possible. Wealthy and powerful citizens from either country can get away with practically any crime while inside the city and the police are practically powerless to do anything to stop it. Change is desperately needed in the city, but the political deadlock of the legislature makes it practically impossible. Despite all of this, the natives of the city are strong willed and openly hostile to the Calvard and Erebonian political meddling in the city with independence being favored by the majority.
Erebonia is an old country with a long history of violence, death, and uncertainty and has roughly only had a stable existence for the last 250 years. This history includes but is not limited to: the tragedy of Hamel, the appearance of the dark dragon, and the War of the Lions. Hell, the history of Erebonia is so bleak that they have a folk song named the “Whereabouts of Light”. Currently, the conflict is between an aging nobility and the growing bourgeoisie, and because of this, there is a constant existential dread that civil war could break out at any moment between the two factions. The nobility, which sees its very existence threatened, is bleeding its citizens dry to fund the expansion of their local militias. The ranking member of the nobility isn’t even trying that hard to hide the fact that he is funding a terrorist group aimed at assassinating the Chancellor. Once the war breaks out, the west side of the empire is devastated, but even on the east side where fighting is minimal, there is a constant fear that the war path will reach the more rural parts of the empire. It does in a few occasions such as Ymir, Nord, and finally Celdic leading to the death of its market manager. The 3rd and 4th game is the same but the dread is even deeper with the threat of a world war on the horizon. It’s no surprise, given the country’s history, that its people seem to be rather reserved compared to Liberl and Crossbell.
It’s clear that even the culture and society is linked to the name of the country. We already know that Calvard is a democratic republic that appears loosely based on America with Chinese and maybe some French influence. From Gambler Jack, it looks like they could possibly be similar to Gilded Age America with lots of economic stress on the working class from corporate abuse. Political corruption is likely rampant with politicians lying to their constituents to amass political capital. The immigration crisis can be used as a scapegoat to direct ire away from the politicians and plutocrats. I can see get rich quick scams being common and betrayal by information sources being expected. People might not be honest with each other or even their own family.
4. The Sept-Terrion of Lies
While it’s technically the Sept-Terrion of Space, in terms of functionality, the Aureole could best be described the Sept-Terrion of Constraint. It had the power to grant the people of the Ark anything they wished or needed, but it eventually took away their ability to choose for themselves turning this city into prison.
Both the original and recreated Sept-terrions of mirage could count as this. They were tasked with satisfying the requests of the people of Crossbell but ultimately couldn’t handle the burden and stress so they lost the will to live, (almost) erasing themselves from existence. For KeA in particular, the final dungeon is the party climbing over the numerous mental barriers KeA placed to be able to do her job as the Sept-Terrion of Zero.
The Great One and its primary personality, Ishmelga, is the source of most of Erebonia’s darkness with most tragedy and suffering being linked to it in some way or another. It has more than once abused despair to incite conflict between neighbors.
This suggests that there will be a Sept-terrion of Lies which I’ll discuss in more detail in a later theory.
5. The villain will be a dirty liar
It’s pretty obvious that the villain or beta villain will be a liar. A politician abusing the immigration crisis for his financial gain might make a decent chapter or even first game villain. However, what would really be impressive would be if a member of Ouroboros betrays the society and Grandmaster to become the main villain of the arc, namely, the 4th Anguis with the title “Thousand Oathbreaker”. It would also make a great foil to Vita who left the society temporarily but never betrayed the GM.
In this theory, I have suggested that Calvard is going to have Truth, Trust, and Lies as major themes based on the fact that it’s name is derived from Latin infinitive for “to deceive”, and the other three arcs have had themes linked to the name of the country, and using this argument, I was able to make a set of loose predictions about the Calvard arc. Assuming this trend with names continues with Leman as well, a quick google search tells me that Leman means a lover, possible illicit, so I could guess that Love would be a major theme of that arc which would make a good concluding theme for the entire series. Unfortunately Kondo threw a monkey wrench at us by saying that 3 arcs remain so I’m not quite as confident about two Sept-terrions being Calvard. Of the remaining places, Arteria is an artery connected to the heart which makes me think that it will still be part of the Leman arc. Remiferia seems derived from the latin for Remedy (Remigius), and Ored may come from “ordem” or order.