Four lower elements and four kingdoms represented by four beasts. In today’s theory, I link the Holy Beasts and the societies they watch over to visions of the Hebrew Prophet Daniel.
After two games of only hints towards the fates of Erebonia’s Holy Beasts, we were finally introduced to the Holy Beast of Earth, corrupted after taking most of the curse (and the physical body of Ishmelga as Sen IV reveals) into itself. It’s form was a slight shock to those who had played Ao no Kiseki because the Master Arts cards gave the impression it would be a turtle when it clearly did not look like one. However, its appearance was close enough to one that people surmised that maybe becoming the Nameless One caused it to lose its shell. This idea fell through once it was revealed that Algres, the original form of the Nameless One, did not have a shell either. in the same game, Rose’s Holy Beast form was revealed to the Winged Lion which while foreshadowed through Celine, Grianos, and the Thors emblem didn’t appear to have any relation to the arts cards either. Since I’m fairly certain that their designs were influenced by something, I decided to look into the Winged Lion which turned out to be the first of the four beasts described in Daniel 7. From Wikipedia,
- A beast like a lion with eagle’s wings. [v. 4]
- A beast like a bear, raised up on one side, with three ribs between its teeth. [v. 5]
- A beast like a leopard with four wings of fowl and four heads. [v. 6]
- A fourth beast, with large iron teeth and ten horns. [v. 7-8]
The first beast is clearly the winged lion just like Roselia; however what’s even more fascinating is the full verse (credit to Wuolong77 on Falcom Romancia for pointing out the full verses).
“The first beast was like a lion with eagles’ wings. As I watched, its wings were pulled off, and it was left standing with its two hind feet on the ground, like a human being. And it was given a human mind.”
Defeated, the Winged Lion lost its original form and became like a human living among them. This is reminiscent of the original Roselia. After that pact between her and the goddess was broken, she decided to fuse with the elder of the Tribe of Fire and live among them–becoming something between man and beast. We can even compare this with the 2nd Roselia’s children. Griannos, representing the wings, lack a human mind (and possibly form) whereas Celine had both a human mind and form.
The fourth beast actually loosely fits the description of Algres. The teeth clearly fit the description (they broke through a Zemurian Ore sword) and after counting, there are exactly 10 glowing antlers on its Nameless One form. Furthermore, the full version from Daniel 7 is as follows,
“Then in my vision that night, I saw a fourth beast—terrifying, dreadful, and very strong. It devoured and crushed its victims with huge iron teeth and trampled their remains beneath its feet. It was different from any of the other beasts, and it had ten horns.
As I was looking at the horns, suddenly another small horn appeared among them. Three of the first horns were torn out by the roots to make room for it. This little horn had eyes like human eyes and a mouth that was boasting arrogantly.”
The first verse reminds of the battle with Nameless One, a being so strong that a Divine Knight and Erebonia’s greatest tech couldn’t even hurt it. It easily crushed and quite literally trampled Rean and co beneath its heel and broke his sword with its razor sharp teeth. The second verse is even more interesting and parallels the transformation of Algres into the Nameless One. Comparing the images of the two, Algres has an additional horn on his forehead which on the Nameless One has been replaced with a large eye. If we infer that the Eye is a manifestation of Ishmelga’s physical form, then the eye represents the most egotistical and arrogant of the Divine Knights.
The Four Kingdoms
Earlier in the same text Daniel is told that each of the beasts represents one of four kingdoms which were shown to him in an earlier vision in chapter 2. Copying from wikipedia again, they are:
- Head of gold. Explicitly identified as King Nebuchadnezzar.[v.37–38]
- Chest and arms of silver. Identified as an “inferior” kingdom to follow Nebuchadnezzar.[v.39]
- Belly and thighs of bronze. A third kingdom which shall rule over all the earth.[v.39]
- Legs of iron with feet of mingled iron and clay. Interpreted as a fourth kingdom, strong as iron, but the feet and toes partly of clay and partly of iron show it shall be a divided kingdom.[v.41]
The 1st clearly represents the Babylonian Empire as evident by King Nebuchadnezzar, First Emperor of Babylon. Babylon was one of the ancient world’s first unified empires. Its cultural and religious homogeneity along with the stability granted by its authoritarian rule resulted in one of the world’s first cultural and artistic renaissance. The values and beliefs of the society were strong and strictly enforced by its leadership with those of other beliefs often persecuted or eliminated.
The 2nd is often attributed by theologians to the Achaemenid Empire. In a way, it was the opposite of the Babylonian Empire in that there was no cultural unity. The Persians would conquer but would then leave local administration to the people and never forced cultural or religious integration. It was perhaps one of the most culturally diverse empires in history which also contributed to its fall. Without any strong core unifying values, there was nothing to hold the “inferior” kingdom together. The one thing they did value above all else was truth and to lie was considered the greatest sin.
The 3rd was the Macedonian Empire which was chaotic to say the least. Its reach was large as a result of being formed from Alexander the Great’s conquest but there was nothing substantial to hold the various regions and city-states together. Upon his death, the kingdom was an empire in name only held together only through careful diplomacy and was plagued by constant assassination, execution, betrayal, and war.
The 4th which was the empire to come and is considered to be the Roman Empire which had unmatched military and industrial prowess consuming everything in its path. However, internally it was divided politically.
Bringing everything back to Alchemy, the Babylonian Empire with its unified culture and values could be considered the Kingdom of the Spirit which is represented by Fire in the Trails universe and the Roman Empire with its industrial might was the Kingdom of the Body or the material which is represented by Earth. We don’t know much about the ancient Tribes of Fire and Earth besides the little that is in the black records. The Tribe of Fire had rigid strong values which put them in conflict with the Tribe of Earth, and after the fusion, it was Fire that remained steadfast in their beliefs and desire to protect the new nation while Earth became corrupted. Additionally, we know that the Tribe of Earth was highly technologically advanced as evident by Tuatha, and even unto the modern era, their industrial and technological prowess remains unmatched via the Black Workshop.
While we don’t really know enough to say Fire was based on Babylon and Earth was based on Rome, Modern Erebonia could be considered a synthesis of the two kingdoms–an ever growing, all consuming empire with unified culture and values plagued by internal conflict and turmoil.
The Bear of Ribbed Teeth and the Many-faced Leopard
Assuming this is actually Falcom’s influence and not pure coincidence, what does this mean for the future? The 1st Persian Empire reminds me of Calvard in several ways. While technically considered Western, it’s situated around the middle of the continent and has a huge influx of eastern immigrants making it the most ethnically diverse country in Zemuria. Additionally, the name Calvard seems likely derived from the Latin infinitive Calvor meaning “to lie or decieve” which is fascinating since the Persians prized truth above all else. The full verse describing the second beast is as follows,
“Then I saw a second beast, and it looked like a bear. It was rearing up on one side, and it had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And I heard a voice saying to it, “Get up! Devour the flesh of many people!”
The final sentence gives me the impression that the beast is a servant or slave given the command to kill by whoever controls it. I’m reminded of the Assassins or the “Organization” which appear native to Calvard based on Nielsen’s quest in Sen IV. We also have 3&9’s Emperor’s line from the Hajimari trailer which refers to Swin and Nadia as ingredients or tools to be used by those with power.
This leaves the last one to be somewhere else which I suspect is the unconverted East. We’re 9 soon to be 10 games into the series and we still know almost nothing about the East. The only things we do know is that the Septian veins are drying up and part of it has one region named Longlai, but otherwise we don’t know the name of any specific countries. A possibility for this is that there really aren’t countries in the East which is instead a collection of smaller states and/or city-states. Looking at real world parallels, India, China, and the Middle East were not unified nations until the modern era with each of the regions having their own unique culture, religion, and language. However, if we combine these regions together, Asia is bigger than any other area on earth. Likewise, the unconverted East is bigger than any country in Zemuria. The “unconverted” description of the East reminds me of the description of the third beast,
“Then the third of these strange beasts appeared, and it looked like a leopard. It had four bird’s wings on its back, and it had four heads. Great authority was given to this beast.”
This gives me the impression that in parts of the East, the Holy Beast would be revered as a God as opposed to Aidios. The four-faced description makes it sound like it could almost be a fusion of the four beasts, Suzaku, Seiryuu, Genbu, and Byakko. In the end, all we can do is wait and see.