The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky Second Chapter is an enormous game, bigger than its predecessor in every way. True to the Trails series, it’s filled to the brim with wonderful character moments, unparalleled worldbuilding, and political intrigue. And as the conclusion to the Trails in the Sky duology there are many action-packed, drama-filled scenes as it races toward the end of this story. When I started work on this list I initially came up with 25 candidates. There are a number of moments that hurt me greatly to leave out, but I had to whittle it down to 10, and this is what I ultimately arrived at. Here’s my Top 10 Trails in the Sky SC Moments!
This article contains spoilers only through SC. If you haven’t played Third, you’re safe.
10. Estelle’s Dream
Synopsis: In Mistwald forest Estelle, Scherazard and co. are placed into a deep sleep by Ouroboros Enforcer No. VI, Luciola the Bewitching Bell. In Estelle’s dream she is sent back to the happiest time of her childhood when her mother, Lena Bright, was still alive. Losing herself in the dream, Estelle transforms into her five-year-old self and spends an unspecified amount of days reliving the past with her mother and father. Eventually, however, Estelle realizes something is missing. She ventures into what will become Joshua’s room in the future and finds his harmonica. She fiddles around with it until she remembers how to play Joshua’s favorite song, and then regains her present-day self. After saying farewell to her mother one last time, she escapes the dream and returns to reality.
“Everything you are as a parent – your skills, your dreams, your hopes for their future – you pass down to your children knowingly or not… You carry me with you, Estelle. Omelet and all.” – Lena
Significance: This is a beautiful scene that allows us to see what life in the Bright household looked like before the death of Lena. There are a number of production choices that make this scene really special. They way Estelle melts into her four-year-old self the moment she sees her mother is a powerful visual representation of how deeply and quickly she falls into the illusion, and how overwhelmed by emotion she is. This is exactly what Luciola wants – to create an illusion so pleasant and reflective of each victim’s deepest desire that they would never want to wake up. Estelle is very nearly completely trapped by the dream. The days, or weeks, she spends in the illusion are portrayed in a time lapse where we see various scenes such as Estelle fishing, sleeping with her mother at night, helping out with the chores (only when she felt like it), and more. Their lives are so happy and normal that you find yourself wanting almost as much as Estelle that this is reality, despite the mission she is being pulled away from. But she can’t stay here forever; her efforts to remember “The Whereabouts of Light” and her final conversation with her mother demonstrate her resolve to return to the present day and find Joshua.
I really love the chemistry shown between Cassius and Lena. Lena’s teasing of Cassius is genuinely funny, and really shows the depth of their bond; Lena really comes across as Cassius’s second half. You can see how losing her devastated Cassius to the point that he felt he had to leave the army. Without this dream sequence there would’ve been no other way to convey that as effectively. Also of note: we get to see a 12-year-old Schera, who is already taking a little too much of an interest in alcohol.
9. Estelle confronts Olivier
Synopsis: On a flight to Bose Estelle catches Olivier holding a secret long-distance conversation in the lower deck of the airship. When she asks him what he was doing Olivier immediately attempts to distract from the situation with his usual nonsense, but she cuts him off, asking him how dumb he thinks she is. Estelle reveals that she has not been blind to his suspicious behavior, but despite this, still trusts him as an ally. Olivier who appears to be truly touched, vows he will not break her trust.
“Okay, look, there’s a lot I don’t know about you, and you seem to like to keep your distance from everyone… But even so, I think you’re a really important part of the team. I believe – and maybe it’s crazy as hell, I dunno, but I do – that I can trust you. No matter what.” – Estelle
Significance: This is a small moment in a game filled with many grander, more epic scenes, but this is one of my favorite moments in the game, and one of the more meaningful Estelle-Olivier interactions in SC. This is a scene that had been a long time coming given Olivier’s clear role as some kind of intelligence agent for the empire (we of course later learn this isn’t exactly the case) and questionable motives for sticking with Estelle for so long. This scene is a clear indicator of Estelle’s growth as a character, as she not only shows the wits to realize Olivier is up to something and the strength to cut straight through his BS, but also shows one of the traits that makes her such a compelling leader: the ability to see and bring out the best in other people. Despite his suspicious behavior Estelle has been with Olivier for long enough to feel like she can trust him unconditionally, and this faith touches Olivier to the point that he is nearly rendered speechless (which can’t have happened many times in his life). In turn Olivier’s faith in Estelle is solidified, and he says he will gladly give himself to her cause.
8. Estelle and Renne at the Axis Pillar
Synopsis: While making their way through the Axis Pillar the party is obstructed by Renne, Enforcer No. XV of Ouroboros. Renne offers to let them pass without a fight if Estelle takes back her statement that Renne shouldn’t be in the Society. Estelle refuses, and a battle ensues, which Renne loses. After the battle Estelle approaches Renne and gives her a slap. She tells Renne that she won’t lecture her anymore, but tells her that she needs to develop some awareness for other people’s pain and to listen to what her heart tells her she really wants. A confused Renne admits that she might enjoy Estelle’s company, mutters something about “home”, then jumps onto Pater-Mater and flies away to collect her thoughts. As she leaves she implores Estelle not to die.
“I won’t lecture any more. Renne, you answer how your heart tells you. If it’s hate… then all right. But listen to yourself. Please.” – Estelle
Significance: Renne is a character that doesn’t show much in the way of redeeming qualities in this game. Given her nickname “The Angel of Slaughter”, and the way she seems to fetishize violence, it’s likely that she’s killed a number of people and enjoyed it (though I don’t believe this is ever confirmed). It can be a little difficult to imagine where Estelle became so convinced that Renne is a good person deep down. But like the scene with Olivier on the airship, Estelle has a special ability to see the best in others, and to get them to trust her. Estelle saw Renne become genuinely fast friends with Tita; she sees that Renne clearly possesses unusual intelligence for her age; and most of all, she sees Joshua in Renne. At 11-years-old, Renne is the same age that Joshua was when he was brought into the Bright household. Joshua was able to leave Ouroboros behind, why can’t Renne do the same?
Where Estelle’s character growth is perhaps most striking in SC is her power over language, her ability to logic other people into seeing her point of view, and that ability is on full display here. She realizes that the reason Renne acts selfishly and endeavors to hurt others is likely a result of trauma she received in the past, which is precisely why Estelle tells her she needs to feel other people’s pain. Estelle also realizes exactly when to stop lecturing Renne, and instead to hug her, and tell her that she cares about her. Just like Joshua on the beach, Estelle manages to cut right through her, and make her see she could lead a normal life. This is a beautiful scene that, without getting into spoilers, carries even more weight if you have played Trails in the Sky the Third.
7. The Tea Party
Synopsis: Estelle is given a letter from Renne that appears to be from Joshua, telling her to meet him at Gurune Gate. Instead she meets Kevin who had also received a letter, and the two are ambushed by archaisms. After defeating them the two of them return to Grancel, where they find everyone in the Bracer Guild knocked out, and Duke Dunan and Renne apparently kidnapped. They meet up with Agate/Schera inside the guild. After stepping outside they are led by Sieg to the port, where they find Kanone Amalthea and other Intelligence Division holdouts. Amalthea has captured a new orbal tank equipped with a Gospel, and plans to use it and Dunan to gain control of the capital and restore Colonel Richard to power. As Julia Schwarz makes her playable debut, Estelle and co. foil Amalthea’s plans. Renne is then revealed to be an Enforcer of Ouroboros and the true mastermind behind these events, which were all for the purpose of another Gospel experiment.
“What’s wrong? EVERYTHING! How can I not laugh at myself?! I! Kanone Amalthea! Captain of the Intelligence Division! I, the author of this plan to restore the colonel to glory! I… was played like a FIDDLE by a little girl!” – Amalthea
Significance: This is a thrilling stretch that almost singlehandedly saves the first half of this game from being too much of a slog. There’s a lot of great stuff here. First off, this is a fun way to reintroduce Kevin into the game, who is clearly more than the wandering priest he initially claims to be. Kevin is one of the best characters in the game, and in the series as a whole, so any scene is boosted by his presence. Julia’s inclusion in the party in the Kanone fight is also a nice surprise, and welcome given Julia and Kanone’s history as school rivals. This chapter’s Gospel experiment is also handled in a much more engaging manner than in chapters 1, 2, or 4, which all follow the same predictable pattern of some strange phenomena occurring throughout the region followed by a dungeon and a fight with some monster. Here we have political intrigue, threats being sent concerning the non-aggression pact, revelations (sort of) about Kevin, and an attempted coup. I found Renne’s revelation as an Enforcer to be slightly predictable, but it still nicely sets up a long-term character arc between her and Estelle.
This stretch also makes the list on the strength of everything that happens around it. The meetings with the ambassadors and the queen are used effectively to broaden the player’s understanding of the world. Important figures such as Erebonia’s prime minister Giliath Osborne and Calvard’s president Samuel Rocksmith are namedropped, and political strife within those countries is mentioned that could play a major role in future arcs. The scene immediately after the coup where Richard is allowed out of prison briefly to plead Amalthea to stop fighting for his dead cause is a nice glimpse into Richard’s redemption arc. This chapter also features very fun cutaways to Agate/Schera and Anelace, and also to Joshua and the Capuas, as they attempt to obstruct the society.
6. Estelle on the Glorious
Synopsis: After getting knocked out by sleeping gas at Ouroboros’s secret base, Estelle is taken on board the Glorious. After waking up she is summoned by Weissmann to the Sanctuary, where he offers for her to join Ouroboros. Estelle is then escorted back to her quarters by Loewe, where he recounts the tragic event that broke Joshua’s heart. Estelle tells Loewe that she rejects Weissmann’s offer, and after he leaves starts to plan her escape. After breaking out of her room she makes her way to the deck of the Glorious, where she is ambushed by none other than Mayor Dalmore’s former steward, Gilbert Stein, and a group of jaegers. Joshua then makes a surprise appearance and incapacitates the jaegers. Loewe makes to obstruct their escape, but after Joshua reveals he has rigged the Glorious’s engines, he is forced to let them go. After an encounter with Campanella, Estelle and Joshua escape in an airship.
“Heh… hahaha. You’re one of a kind, Estelle Bright. To hear those horrors and thus lose your hesitation? You truly are more than just the daughter of the Divine Blade.” – Loewe
Significance: Talk about a fittingly epic reunion for Estelle and Joshua. Escaping from Ouroboros’s flagship the Glorious, which happens to be the largest airship in the world, while fighting your way through archaisms and jaegers, outwitting Ouroboros’s elites, and escaping in an airship under hot pursuit? Pretty much checks all the boxes.
I think it was clever of the game to position Loewe’s Hamel revelations at this point – having full knowledge of that tragic event gives the reunion with Joshua more meaning, and helps Estelle to put the missing pieces together and come to fully understand his state of mind (she is also informed by Weissmann on the Glorious of Joshua’s role as a spy on Cassius for the last five years). She now understands why Joshua feels like a broken puppet incapable of human feeling, which is a notion Joshua himself will prove obviously incorrect as he gives up his plan of destroying the Glorious in order to save Estelle instead.
While Estelle was obviously never going to join Ouroboros, this is a good chance to give the game’s villains some screen time, which is something that SC is very good at. We learn more about both Weissmann’s and Loewe’s backgrounds, and the depth of their connections to Joshua. We also see that Renne is very open to the idea of Estelle joining the society, hinting that Renne does feel a connection with her. Campanella is mysterious as always. Gilbert’s reintroduction is genuinely shocking and hilarious, once you remember who he is. Who would’ve thought he’d ever be relevant again?
5. Loewe Fight
Synopsis: After reaching the top of the Axis Pillar Estelle and co. are forced to confront Loewe, Enforcer No. II of Ouroboros. After both sides reassert their conviction, they engage in battle. The battle is the hardest the party has faced yet, but somehow they emerge victorious. With Loewe weakened he and Joshua engage in single combat. During the fight Loewe explains his desire to “bring the world to trial”, saying that humanity is weak and subject to greater forces such as the whims of nations and the passage of time, and as a result tragedies such as the burning of Hamel or the collapse of the Liber Ark are bound to endlessly occur. Joshua says that Loewe is delusional, that Karin is proof that humanity is strong, and proceeds to defeat him by knocking away his sword. Loewe accepts that he was wrong and announces he will leave Ouroboros.
“The truth is ever easily suppressed, and people will happily accept anything they wish to be true in its place. That is mankind’s weakness. That is their sin. But their Aureole’s overwhelming power will force people to face the unabated truth. …All they’ve locked away in their delusions will be dragged before their eyes, raw and exposed. And they will witness.” – Loewe
Significance: This scene makes the list almost on the strength of the fight alone. This is the hardest fight in the game by far and one of the hardest in the entire series, fitting for a villain that had been built up so much for two entire games. If you come in unprepared you will quickly get overwhelmed by Loewe, his two clones, and the lion archaisms. The difficulty spike likely catches most players off guard, but when you develop a strategy and finally win, it’s more than worth it.
The confrontation between Loewe and Joshua is also satisfying. I don’t care much for Loewe’s whole “I want to put humanity to the test” line of thinking; that just sounds like typical JRPG-villain gobbledygook to me. But Joshua is right when he calls him delusional. Loewe may say he’s over the Hamel incident, that he doesn’t need revenge for Karin, but in reality he is still angry over what happened, and what he’s doing is acting on that anger. After Joshua knocks his sword away, Loewe realizes that Karin and Joshua are enough proof that humanity does possess the strength he thought it lacked.
The extended conversations Loewe has with the optional party members after the fight are also excellent and adds lots of replay to this section (though I can’t imagine playing through this fight with all additional 10 characters to see the dialogue. Thank god for YouTube!).
4. Erebonia Marches on Haken Gate
Synopsis: In response to the appearance of the floating object above Valleria Lake and to orbments being shut down in the Empire near the border, Lt. General Zechs Vander, head of Erebonia’s Third Armored Division, marches on Haken Gate with a fleet of steam-powered tanks. He claims that Erebonia is prepared to use these tanks to help Liberl deal with the floating city. Princess Klaudia, making her public debut, then takes over negotiations from General Morgan and declines Vander’s offer, saying that people would be mistrusting given the recency of the Hundred Days War. Olivier, appearing as his true identity Prince Olivert Reise Arnor, then enters the stage for Erebonia. Feigning ignorance that he has ever met Klaudia, he suggests that there are those who believe the floating object is a weapon of mass destruction developed by Liberl. Estelle, unable to take this charade, bursts onto the scene as a neutral arbitrator on behalf of the Bracer Guild. After further negotiations between the three of them, Olivert agrees to withdraw the army and give Liberl a little time to deal with the threat on their own.
“Indeed, if the rumors are true, this is a monstrous betrayal of all civilization. Using the pact to hide your intentions… Heh heh… What choice would we have, then, but to be defenders of the free world?” – Olivert
Significance: Here we have pivotal moments for both Kloe and Olivier, both making their political debuts in grand fashion. This is the culmination of Olivier’s secret maneuverings over the last two games, and his first step in opposing The Blood and Iron Chancellor, who was attempting to take advantage of the situation in Liberl and seemingly has ties with Ouroboros. True to the performer he is, he puts on a flawless show. He spells out multiple arguments for an Erebonian invasion, such as the idea that the floating city is a weapon Liberl intends to use to get revenge for the Hundred Days War, and also the notion that Liberl is incapable of defending itself from Ouroboros on its own, fully expecting Kloe and Estelle to have the wits to rebuke his points. Olivier commits so hard to the role, when I first played this game I began to think after a while that Olivert might actually be a different person. The final scene between Olivier, Zechs, and Mueller also provides setup for the Erebonian arc, and shows how much strength Olivier has gained from his time in Liberl.
Kloe also shows grace and confidence in her investiture as heir to the throne, a great payoff for her arc over these two games. She was unsure she was worthy to succeed her grandmother as queen, but here she shows herself clearly capable. Estelle, while she fails to see through Olivier’s ruse, fully validates her A-rank bracer status by negotiating effectively and buying Liberl some time to deal with the floating city on its own. She even shows a deep enough understanding of the laws of the Bracer Guild to invoke her status as a neutral arbitrator, something that may have seemed impossible for her at the beginning of FC.
3. Weissmann’s Assassination
Synopsis: As Weissmann attempts to make his escape, he is obstructed by Father Kevin. Kevin is revealed as the Fifth Dominion of the Gralsritter. His true mission in Liberl was to assassinate Weissmann, who the church has branded a heathen and sentenced to death. Kevin uses a weapon imbued with the power of the Salt Pale that devastated North Ambria to turn Weissmann to salt, killing him. Campanella then appears and reasserts his role as strictly an observer. He names Kevin as the “Heretic Hunter”, and asks if the Gralsritter are really all that different from Ouroboros’s Enforcers. With a snap he crumbles Weissmann’s salted remains into a sad little pile, grabs Weissmann’s staff, which apparently contained whatever it was he was looking for, and teleports away.
“It’s what you’ve earned, you faithless pile of filth. The church does try to stay neutral in all things, but we can’t overlook what you’ve done. Now kindly stand still and die quietly.” – Kevin
Significance: You think you know a guy. It had long been hinted that there is more to Kevin than there appears to be, and finally his full identity is revealed here as he assassinates Weissmann in disturbingly cold fashion. The language Kevin uses here is shocking, and doesn’t fit at all with the flirtatious, happy-go-lucky wandering priest we’ve gotten to know over the game. He calls Weissmann a “filthy heathen,” a “faithless pile of filth,” brands him as a heretic, and tells him to “die quietly.” It makes you question how much of the Kevin who became so friendly with Estelle and co. is real. When Weissmann calls him a “dog” Kevin doesn’t deny it, and instead laments that unlike Joshua he can’t get out of this life. How many people has he killed? Did this attitude come from some dark past? This scene raises a number of questions about Kevin and serves as a great lead-in to Trails in the Sky the Third where he takes center stage.
2. Tita and Agate in Ravennue
Synopsis: After Agate sustains injuries from fighting Loewe he is carried back to his old home in Ravennue Village, where Tita decides to stay behind to help him heal and make him stay in bed. Agate dreams of Mischa, and when he wakes he initially mistakes Tita for her. He remarks to Tita that the villagers reconstructed his old house exactly as it was before it was burned down in the Hundred Days War. Tita asks about Mischa, and Agate tells her the story of how she died, and why he still wears the accessory that she made for him. He calls himself pathetic, trapped by anger and unable to move on from Mischa’s death. Tita says that it hurts to hear him talk about himself that way, because she thinks he’s a good person. This helps Agate to see the flaw in his thinking, and he thanks Tita, finding a new resolve to carry on.
“You really helped me see it. There ain’t no point in trying to judge yourself when all you can see is your own, limited version of yourself. All you can really do is plow on. Anger, sadness… neither have anything to do with it. You just have to go straight on until you find an answer. Maybe then I’ll finally understand why I’ve held on to this thing for so long.” – Agate
Significance: The Tita-Agate pairing was such an unlikely friendship. Agate was a hard-headed former thug who hates himself and makes it a point never to get close to anybody, and definitely didn’t have the patience to put up with kids. But after the event on the tower in FC, and his efforts to keep the Russell’s save during the coup, Agate endears himself to Tita, unwittingly creating a brother-sister connection that becomes one of the best relationships in the series. Everything they’ve been through over the last two games has been building toward this moment, this tear-inducing scene in Agate’s recreated former home where he opens up about his past and is finally able to come to terms with his sister’s death.
Agate’s rough behavior is fully explained by his backstory. The reason he’s so hard on himself is because he blames himself for Mischa’s death, as the reason she went back into the house before it was bombed was to retrieve the necklace she made for Agate. Therefore, by his logic, she died because of him. He spends the next decade trapped in regret and self-loathing, unable to move on from this tragic event. It’s Tita that is finally able to make him see how wrong he’s been about himself. Speaking of Tita, it’s clear how much she has grown as well from the “crybaby” (Agate’s words) that she was when you meet her in FC. Spending all this time with Agate and the others has toughened her up significantly, and she uses this newfound strength to express to Agate how she feels about him and help him escape from his rut. This is a beautiful scene, and it solidifies Agate’s position as one of the best characters in the Sky trilogy.
1. Estelle and Joshua on the Beach
Synopsis: After escaping from the Glorious Estelle and Joshua land on the beach near Ruan. Joshua makes to say goodbye to Estelle again, but she has none of it. She now has a full understanding of Joshua’s mindset. Joshua says that his heart is broken? That he’s incapable of feeling human emotion? Estelle claims that he is simply trying to escape his pain by pretending it isn’t his own, which is a perfectly normal response to grief. Joshua is stunned, immediately seeing the logic of Estelle’s statement. After some more talking Estelle says they should make a promise – to stay together and protect each other. Joshua begins to cry for the first time since Karin died. After allowing him some time, Estelle requests a do-over of their first kiss, and Joshua obliges.
“Have you forgotten, buster? I’m Liberl’s Number One Joshua-Watcher. Now that I know all about your past, too, I’m the biggest authority on Joshua Astray in the world! I know more than Weissmann or Loewe, even! Joshua scared and Joshua brave. Joshua lying and Joshua honest. My… beloved Joshua.” – Estelle
Significance: Close to three months in-world and 60-odd hours of gameplay later, we’ve finally reached the reunion Estelle has been working so hard for. If there’s any scene in games that’s guaranteed to make me tear up every time I see it, it’s this one. Estelle’s language is so pin-point accurate it’s astounding. Joshua had come to fully think of himself as the broken puppet Weissmann claims him to be, but when Estelle points out that he is simply attempting to bury his pain by attributing it to another lifetime, and that this is something a lot of people do, he doesn’t attempt to deny it. He recognizes immediately that she is right. The knot on Joshua’s grief is released and he cries for the first time in a decade, all his emotion tumbling out of him at once.
I’ve brought it up enough in this piece already, but Estelle’s character growth over these two games is truly something special, and I think she has a good case for being one of, if not the best main character in all of JRPGs (she’s certainly the best I’ve ever seen. Though the protagonist of a certain other Sky game has a good case as well). And Joshua is one hell of a character too. From the tragedy of Hamel, to his reconstruction by Weissmann, to finding a family in Cassius and Estelle, while also unwittingly betraying them, and now the reunion where Estelle helps him see how he’s been running from his pain, Joshua has a meticulously crafted character arc with a satisfying pay-off. The Estelle-Joshua relationship is the heart of this duology, and this is the best moment of Trails in the Sky SC.