Trails in the Sky the 3rd is the shortest game in the series in terms of word count, but what is here could be considered the most dense. It’s a deeply personal story about Kevin Graham, and is also packed with content that foreshadows future games and fleshes out characters that we got to know and love in the first two games. It was very tricky to narrow this list down to 10 moments for that reason; this whole game is moments! You can make a case for a good number of the doors, and that’s to say nothing of the main story. I tried to split this list fairly evenly between Kevin and the doors in order to properly represent this game. As a result, there are certain characters that didn’t make this list that it pains me to have left off. But cuts had to be made, and this is where I arrived. Here are my top 10 Trails in the Sky the 3rd moments!
You can read my review for Trails in the Sky the 3rd here.
10. The Lusitania
Synopsis: In Eastern Erebonia aboard a brand-new luxury cruise ship called the Lusitania, Kevin Graham, Fifth Dominion of the Septian Church, is undercover at a banquet being held by a merchant named Conrad. Kevin’s mission is to arrest the merchant and retrieve an artifact that has fallen into his possession. After taking some time to flirt with the wife of a wealthy man, Kevin makes his way to Conrad’s quarters where he finds the artifact. When he picks the artifact up, however, he triggers a trap and is forced to fight his way through some Northern Jaegers hired by the merchant. Ultimately though they prove no match for him, and he grabs Conrad, and makes his escape by jumping through a window and landing on his Merkabah.
“Haha… I would be honored to, fair lady. But only if you can promise the Goddess has her eyes turned away; She may blush if She’s watching.” – Kevin Graham
Significance: Right from the start it’s obvious we’re dealing with a very different main protagonist here. Even without the mask, Kevin is mysterious. At the end of SC we’d just watched him assassinate Weissmann in cold blood and learned that he’s one of the Septian Church’s most powerful knights. He’s pretty far removed from your generic blank-slate-farm-boy JRPG protagonist. You don’t really know who Kevin is, and the personal nature of this story as you explore his past and his psyche is part of what makes this game so great.
One of the things that jumps out at you first about Kevin is his maturity, which comes along with his ripe-old-age (by JRPG standards) of 22. Where the other Trails protagonists we’ve gotten so far are teens and are, shall we say, slightly awkward when it comes to romance, we immediately see the flirtatious Kevin hitting it off with the wife of a nobleman on board, and getting invited to her room. When making his escape he even expresses regret he couldn’t take her up on her offer, remarking that it’s “obvious her husband wasn’t givin’ her enough squeeze.” It’s also clear that Kevin has been on plenty of missions like this before; he never once panics after he trips the security, and he remains delightfully cocky as he easily overpowers Conrad’s hired Jaegers. It’s probably not likely that all of Kevin’s missions are this exciting, but this section is a romp and a fun look into what the life of a Dominion is like.
Also, as is typical of this game, this section is packed to a ridiculous degree with details that pay off in later in the series, and there are even a couple of NPCs that later become characters. There’s a shop located in Heimdallr, Erebonia’s capital, that you can visit in Trails of Cold Steel, a game that came out six years later. How does Falcom keep up with all this?
9. Ries’s Accusation
Synopsis: Before entering the fourth plane Ries announces she is not feeling well and is going to sit this round out. When Kevin follows her and presses her on what is wrong, she says she is sick of watching him keep others at a distance, accusing him of “acting”. She also posits that Kevin knows exactly what the Schwarzritter and the Lord of Phantasma are talking about with their cryptic messages. While her words clearly get to him, he denies everything and tells her she clearly needs some rest. Afterward Kevin bumps into Joshua, and essentially admits to him everything Ries just accused him of, saying that he was simply using them during the events of SC to get to Weissmann. Joshua says he couldn’t care less, and says he is still grateful for what he has done for them.
“Except it turns out you haven’t made any new ‘friends’ at all. You’re pulling the exact same thing you pulled with me on them. Every single one at arm’s length – they can’t get close to you. You won’t get close to them. On the surface you’re a cheerful person having fun with everyone, but on the inside, you’re cold as can be.” – Ries
Significance: Ever since the end of SC we’ve been left to wonder how much of the person Kevin presents himself to be is real. The happy-go-lucky, flirtatious persona he usually puts on doesn’t match up with the “Heretic Hunter” we saw assassinate Weissmann. The fact that Ries is able to see that something is off here despite them not having met for five years speaks volumes to how close they were in their childhoods. This intuitiveness, and her bluntness in addressing Kevin, are part of what makes her one of the best characters of the Sky trilogy for me, despite only appearing in one of the games. You fit right in Ries!
The following exchange between Kevin and Joshua is one of the best in the game. These two are kindred spirits in a way – both underwent traumatic events in their childhood and were more or less forced into dirty work that they didn’t really sign up for. Kevin can be open with Joshua, because he knows of all the people here Joshua would be most understanding of where he’s coming from. And he doesn’t hold back, even saying that he allowed Estelle to be kidnapped by Ouroboros during SC because he believed it would work out advantageously for him. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the real Kevin either; the reality is likely somewhere in between his “fake” persona and his tortured, cold-hearted one. And that personal discovery is what his journey in Phantasma ends up being all about.
8. Cassius Fight
Synopsis: Fighting their way through the sixth plane of Phantasma Kevin, Richard, and co. find themselves facing off against a recreation of none other than Brigadier General Cassius Bright, complete with his memories and combat capabilities. Knowing that this could be the hardest fight of his life, Richard shows his resolve saying that “defeating [Cassius] will finally allow me to cut down my hesitations and move forward.” After exchanging pleasantries with the rest of the party, the battle begins. Unlike the other guardians Cassius does not call for backup, but even one-on-four the fight is a grueling one. Despite this the party prevails and the path forward is opened.
“Although I can’t pretend to not be a tad disappointed. If you’d returned to the army, I could’ve piled all my work onto you and Cid. Looks like I’m not going to be able to retire any time soon.” – Cassius
Significance: Unlike the others on this list, this moment is largely here for the gameplay and how the difficulty rises to the occasion. If you’re going to throw down with the Divine Blade, the fight had better live up to his reputation, and boy does it ever. Despite being one-on-four Cassius gives you everything you can handle. He’s fast, he has area-of-effect attacks, he can attack delay, he can buff himself, and most of all, he hits like a truck. The fact that he’s doing all this with a staff, rather than the sword that earned him the title the “Divine Blade”, drives home how much of a monster he really is. I’m sure people who know this game inside-out could beat this fight in their sleep on nightmare, but I personally only got through this fight by spamming earth wall the best I could. I found this to be the hardest fight in the game, which is fitting for the opponent.
The dialogue Cassius shares with all of the additional party members is nice as well. He has a substantial conversation with every character in the game, encouraging you to bring multiple different combinations to this fight. I particularly like his conversation with Renne – in response to her saying he must be a real monster because she can’t tell how strong he is, Cassius replies that she can’t get a read on him because, in his words, “I manipulate both the void and the helix as my form.” What does that even mean?! He is truly stronger than our wildest imaginations.
7. Zin and Kilika in Elmo
Synopsis: As Zin is about to transfer back to Calvard, he receives an invitation to spend a night at the Elmo hot springs with Kilika and Ambassador Cochrane. Over dinner Cochrane tells Kilika that President Rocksmith has offered her a high up position in Calvard’s new intelligence division, and that she has the night to decide if she accepts. Outside the baths Zin and Kilika discuss Kilika’s path after the two trained together with Walter under her father, Master Ryuga. Kilika’s desire to carry out the values of the Living Fist without fighting has caused her to feel lost, and ultimately resulted in her becoming a receptionist for the Bracer Guild. Kilika asks Zin if he would prefer she return to Calvard or stay in Liberl, and after he says he would rather she return to Calvard, she says she will take the position.
“Yet with Father dead and Walter gone, I couldn’t help but wonder… Wonder whether there was some way to make use of the Living Fist without having to fight. That was when I started roaming the continent in search of one.” – Kilika
Significance: Out of all of the guild receptionists in the first two games, Kilika was always the one that stood out the most. She’s mysterious, has a sharp wit, and has retained a distinct eastern flair despite having lived in Liberl for a number of years. She gave off an aura that she was capable of more than her current position, so it’s nice to see 3rd give her this spotlight. A bit of her backstory is revealed here. The reason she ended up as a guild receptionist is because she more or less drifted there while searching for a way to quell conflict without the need to fight. But she still feels unsatisfied in life. Zin is right when he tells her that she has been very effective at guiding others during her time at the guild, but Kilika wants a more active role, which is part of why she ends up accepting the intelligence division position. Zin and Kilika’s relationship is very well written; it’s clear they both have feelings for each other, but I think the reason Kilika hasn’t acted on them is because she wants to get her life in order first. But that doesn’t stop her from teasing him relentlessly, and also from calling on him when she needs someone to talk to.
The Calvard arc looks to have some fascinating politics. There is a lot of unrest in the country surrounding the influx of immigrants from the far east, and there’s sure to be a lot of intrigue born from the trappings of democracy. They say here that President Rocksmith is on the conservative side politically, so I’m looking forward to seeing how that manifests. Judging from this door, Kilika will have a major role to play in those games.
6. Kloe and Lechter at Grancel Castle
Synopsis: After Lechter’s surprise appearance alongside Chancellor Osborne in Grancel, Kloe finds him on the terrace atop the castle. Lechter initially pretends to be a different person, frustrating Kloe, before saying that he was just teasing her, and that she still takes things too seriously. They catch up, and Lechter says he is happy to see that she hasn’t been too restricted by her role as crown princess. Kloe asks why he is working for Osborne, and Lechter doesn’t give a clear answer beyond he thinks it’ll be fun. Before walking off Lechter tells Kloe a warning to deliver to Olivier, that he should watch his back so that “he doesn’t get swallowed up by that monster after he gets tired of dancing.”
“Knowing the pain of lost love’s what makes a girl blossom, in my humble opinion. Do you feel like the whole experience let you get a step closer to the person you want to be?” – Lechter
Significance: Kloe is one of the characters in this game that benefits the most from the extra development found in the doors. Despite being a major character in the trilogy she actually spends much of SC on the sidelines; we know that she’s dealing with doubt over whether or not she’s worthy of the crown, but we don’t actually get to see much of that internal struggle. In 3rd through her Moon Door and her reunion with Lechter we get to see a good deal more of what this struggle was like for her. Up to the point she enrolled at Jenis Royal Academy she had lived a very sheltered life. She had very little in the way of world experience or real friendships, and that manifested in how introverted she initially was at school. Lechter, through his teasing and moments of genuinely sage advice, plays a major role in getting Kloe to lighten up and figure out the kind of person she wants to be, and she’ll feel forever indebted to him for that.
Their reunion is touching, and you can really see how much Lechter influenced Kloe’s life, and how much he worried her by his disappearance. I really like the symmetry of how they meet on the same spot where Kloe confessed to Joshua just a couple months prior; both of these scenes are clear indicators of how much confidence Kloe has gained in herself. This is also an incredibly cool way to introduce Lechter, who through his connection to Chancellor Osborne you can figure will have some kind of role to play in the Cold Steel arc. If you’ve played 3rd, you’ll already have an instant attachment to him when he first appears in those games. This is the Trails series’ long-term storytelling at its best.
5. Celestial Globe
Synopsis: After the collapse the Liber Ark, Campanella makes his way to the sanctuary of the Glorious and enters the Celestial Globe, a mysterious communication network of some kind for Ouroboros. After Campanella’s arrival the six currently living Anguis, none of whose identities are known to the player, enter the network. They discuss Weissmann’s death, the appearance of the Fifth Dominion, Renne’s departure from Ouroboros, and more. The Grandmaster then joins the call, expressing regret over Weissmann’s death and all the other sacrifices that had to be made. Campanella fulfills his duty, offering up the Aureole to the Grandmaster. The Grandmaster announces the completion of the Gospel Plan, and the beginning of the second phase of the Orpheus Final Plan, the Phantasmal Blaze Plan.
“The bells in the west have rang, and the first pact applies no more. I hereby proclaim the completion of the first phase of the Orpheus Final Plan, the Gospel Plan… and the initiation of its second phase, the Phantasmal Blaze Plan.” – The Grandmaster
Significance: This may be the craziest thing in the whole game. This is an enticing preview of what’s to come in later arcs, and another impressive indicator of how much Falcom had mapped out as far back as the Sky trilogy. I’ve come back to this segment countless times after playing future games; it’s very fun to reread once you know who some of these characters are. There’s a lot of interesting dialogue to parse here. It’s almost comical how little the other Anguis care about Weissmann’s death; they talk about it as a pity, but something that was inevitable given his behavior. I found Weissmann to be a one-note villain, and to hear the other Anguis essentially dismiss him as a lunatic who had it coming definitely got me excited that the rest of Ouroboros could be more interesting. We learn some other fun details as well: while they discuss Loewe we learn the second Anguis apparently had a crush on him, and the seventh Anguis is apparently an even greater swordsman. The sixth Anguis is in charge of something called the Thirteen Factories. And of course, Campanella remains as mysterious and fun as ever, even apparently addressing the player at the end of the scene in a strange fourth wall breaking moment.
And then there’s the Grandmaster, the head of Ouroboros, and maybe the main villain of the entire series? Given that Trails in the Sky the 3rd was not originally planned to exist, I wonder if the Grandmaster is making their first appearance here much earlier than originally planned. What we get from the Grandmaster here is interesting; he/she doesn’t really come off as evil, and seems genuinely saddened by the damage and loss the Gospel Plan caused. The Grandmaster allowed it all to happen, however, because he/she believed it “to be necessary for this world.” The Anguis immediately jump to the Grandmaster’s defense, showing the strength of their loyalty. This, paired with the freedom granted to Enforcers to decide if they want to obey orders or not, make the Grandmaster a really intriguing figure. This door is loads of fun and should entice anyone to want to learn more about this mysterious society in future games.
Synopsis: Renne, at this time likely around six-years-old, is being held in a place called “Paradise”. She is made to do unspeakable things, and only manages to keep her sanity by creating false personas and pushing her pain onto them. One day Loewe and Joshua, acting as Ouroboros Enforcers, raid the facility and rescue Renne. Joshua asks if they can take her into Ouroboros, and after presumably years of training Renne becomes an Enforcer. After Joshua has left Ouroboros, Renne visits Crossbell to get a look at her parents and their newborn son. Her mother expresses regret over “what happened to our last child,” and her father responds that they agreed not to talk about that anymore, that they need to “leave the past in the past.” Loewe approaches Renne and tells her that she can do as she pleases, but that he “can’t help but wonder whether they’re even worth the effort of cutting down.” Renne calls them impostors, and that Pater-Mater is her real mother and father now. The scene cuts to post-SC, with Renne sitting with Pater-Mater in the rain, thinking on Estelle’s words. She then takes off for Crossbell.
“I wander indifferently in a place that exists beyond good and evil; beyond life and death. There is no fortune or misfortune. No happiness. No sadness. White and black tear into me, heaven and earth torment me… I’ve been defiled.” – Renne
Significance: This is one of the best doors in the game. It’s also an incredibly tough read, and a huge outlier for a series that keeps a bright tone most of the time. Falcom decided to take on some very dark subject matter, and I credit them for doing it an artful way that puts the focus on Renne’s mental state rather than going too far into details. It’s never explicitly said what is happening here, though it’s made obvious enough.
Renne’s narration is devastating. The only way she is able to survive is by creating fake friends and convincing herself that they are being abused, not her. All the while Renne is pretending to be happy, pretending to be in no danger at all, because if she faces reality she’ll lose it. When Joshua and Loewe find her she is at the end of her rope, having lost all her personas and likely about to finally break. Loewe comments that her scratches were likely self-inflicted in an effort to stay sane, and Joshua marvels at her strength. Even then Renne’s intellect was far beyond what would be expected for her age.
The scene with Renne’s parents is sad, and a little haunting. Even without her they appear to be a happy family. There’s a ghostly feel to the scene in the sense that this could have easily been Renne’s life. Renne and Loewe both appear to blame her parents for what happened to her; there seems to be something a little off about the way they talk about their “last child,” thought that could be attributed to Renne’s imagination.
This door is essential to making Renne work as a character. In SC Renne shows little other than cackling evil, to the point that it’s difficult to understand where Estelle’s affection for her is coming from. Without anything to explain her behavior, beyond a reference at the end of the game to some people hurting her in the past, she doesn’t come across as a complete character, which makes it difficult for the player to form any attachment to her. Now that her past has been revealed, everything about her behavior has an explanation. The only way she knew how to deal with the pain she endured was by inflicting pain on others through her role as an Enforcer. It made her feel strong, unlike the former version of herself who was powerless and open to abuse. But now, as is evident by the final scene in which Renne reflects on Estelle’s words from the top of the Liber Ark, she now sees that there could be another, better way for her to heal. I’ll bet wanting to flesh out Renne was one of the major reasons Falcom wanted to make this game, and they definitely succeeded in making her a complete character.
3. Aster House – Gehenna
Synopsis: At the end of the sixth plane Kevin and Ries find a recreation of Aster House, the orphanage where they grew up. After searching the grounds and reminiscing about the past, Kevin takes them down to a hidden chamber beneath the chapel, where he promises he will reveal everything about what happened the night Rufina died. In an effort to save Ries who had been kidnapped by a jaeger and taken into this same chamber, Kevin’s stigma manifested itself for the first time. He killed the jaeger, but lost control of himself, and accidentally killed Rufina as well, who had just arrived to save them. The Lord of Phantasma is then revealed to be a recreation of Rufina, and Phantasma’s entire purpose has become to fulfill Kevin’s wish of being punished. Ries won’t accept this, however, and after a struggle they both end up falling to the seventh plane, which appears as Gehenna, Zemuria’s version of hell. With Ries there with him, Kevin finds a new resolve to escape his punishment. Making their up out of Gehenna, Kevin and Ries are forced to overcome recreations of various people he has killed, ultimately ending with Weissmann. They overcome him, Kevin shows a new will to live, and after the doors of Gehenna are opened by the rest of the party, they make their way back to the Garden.
“I would have thought you worked out the answer to that already, Ries. Do you recall what I said before? Kevin wants to be punished. I was born here in order to give him the punishment he strives for with his every breath. It was to that end that I recreated Phantasma into its current form and welcomed all of you here.” – Rufina
Significance: This is the emotional climax of the game, where we get the full reveal of Kevin’s past and his desire to punish himself, followed by the turning point where Ries helps him to see the error in his thinking. The section where Kevin and Ries explore Aster House and reminisce about the old days is beautiful, and is accentuated by one of the best songs in the game. Seeing how peaceful their lives were, and how important they were to each other, makes what comes afterward hit so much harder. Kevin ended up walking the path of the Heretic Hunter as a result of not one but two tragic events; even if neither was his fault, it’s not hard to see why he ended up hating himself so much. He was even willing to accept eternal damnation in the seventh plane, and may have been finished if not for Ries attempting to save him.
The trek through Gehenna is a powerfully moving sequence, forcing Kevin to literally overcome the demons of his past to escape with Ries and prove his newfound will to live. Kevin is forced to fight the souls of a number of his victims, including the bishop that ordered the jaeger attack on Aster House, a kid who had been turned into a cannibal, and his mother who tried to kill him. You can tell much it pains Kevin to relive these moments, and even he remarks that he must have been a masochist if this is truly what he wanted for himself. There’s plenty of touching dialogue throughout between Kevin and Ries, which from Ries mostly consists of a cascading array of insults for Kevin keeping all this to himself for so long.
I’ve said before I’m not the biggest fan of Weissmann beyond his excellent reveal in FC, but I believe this to be his greatest moment. His unbridled evil serves as a perfect final barrier to escaping Gehenna, and his obsession of creating a superhuman unburdened by emotion actually sounds like a tempting offer for Kevin. This is a super fun use of the character.
One small thing I want to point out: I love how Ries loses her habit while falling to Gehenna, and then no one ever says anything about it. I expected a couple of comments along the lines “wow you look so pretty without your hat,” but even in NPC dialogue it never comes up. It might have seem deeper meaning, or maybe it’s nothing at all, but for some reason I’ve always like this touch.
2. To Meet Again Someday
Synopsis: With Phantasma crumbling around them, it’s time for everyone to say their goodbyes. Starting with Richard and Zin, the party all move off in twos through the door Celeste opened for them. Emotions are running high, but everyone does their best to keep a positive face. As Olivier leaves, he asks Schera to think on what he asked. Eventually the party dwindles to just Kevin, Ries, Estelle, Joshua, and Renne. Renne is confused why everyone looks so happy and is clearly distraught at everyone having to part ways. Estelle and Joshua comfort her, and broach the big question they’ve been preparing: would she like to join their family? Renne, clearly unsure what she wants, says she’ll run, and that she hates them. She then admits she loves them just as much, and runs through the door. Estelle and Joshua follow her shortly after, finally followed by Kevin and Ries.
“Should I tell you, Renne? Tell you why everyone was able to smile as they said goodbye to us all. …Well, too bad. I’m going to tell you anyway. It’s because no matter how much you love someone or how much you hate someone… eventually you’ll end up having to part from them. That goes for everyone. No exceptions.” – Estelle
Significance: There was a period where the song that plays in this scene, “To Meet Again Someday”, tortured me. I sometimes would shuffle Trails in the Sky music, and whenever this song played I had to stop whatever I was doing and bury my head in my hands as the emotions of this moment came flooding back all at once. That’s a stronger emotional response than I should probably admit to having over having to say goodbye to a video game cast, but I fell so hard in love with these games it took me a bit to recover after finishing them. But what made everything worse was as Joshua said, this was a case where I could see them all again. If this game was the end for these characters, if the Trails continuity didn’t extend past this game, I think I would’ve had an easier time dealing with it. But knowing that I could see them again, but I didn’t know how many of them, or how long it would take, made saying goodbye to them (for now), so much harder. Which is exactly the same thing these characters are going through in this moment.
This is the sendoff that this extraordinary cast of characters deserved, and I can’t imagine a more perfect ending to the Sky arc. No other video game series is capable of the mix of emotions that this scene instills in the player. Through three adventures you’ve likely spent 100+ hours with these characters already. They’ve become a part of your life, and having to say goodbye to them is hard. Knowing that it’s possible that some number of them could show up in future games fills you with an equal amount of hope and fear over whether or not they’ll appear again (or over whether those games will even be localized!). But for now, getting to watch each of them get their spotlight before they run up through that door, is just perfect. We get tidbits about what each character is going to be doing after they return to the real world; final words are exchanged between certain characters; and we get to reminisce about everything they’ve been through. It’s a bittersweet ending to this great trilogy.
And then at the end of the scene with most characters already gone, we get one more important scene between Estelle, Joshua, and Renne, because it wouldn’t be 3rd without plot packed into every corner of this game. Renne may be a child genius but she is very much still a kid emotionally. She doesn’t want to accept that everyone has to leave; given her past it’s likely that their time in Phantasma has been the happiest stretch of her life, and she doesn’t want it to end. Joshua and Estelle’s comments on saying goodbye, and how you need to smile because you can’t be sure that you’ll meet again, is exactly what she needed to here, and complements the whole scene beautifully. The exchange where Estelle and Joshua offer for Renne to join their family is a guaranteed tear-jerker, and is amplified greatly by all that we’ve been through with these characters. Estelle collapses in Joshua’s arms afterward, overcome by the weight of the moment that they’ve been working toward for so long. They then run through the door together, and after Kevin and Ries follow them, everyone has returned to the real world, where hopefully, they will meet again someday.
1. Olivier vs. Osborne
Synopsis: The day Olivier is to return to Erebonia on board the Arseille, Chancellor Giliath Osborne of Erebonia makes a surprise appearance at Grancel Castle. After apologizing to the queen for sending an army to Liberl’s borders during the Orbal Shutdown Phenomenon, Osborne and Olivier are given a private room to talk. Olivier accuses him instigating trouble in small states in order to annex them, trying to start a revolution in Erebonia, and having ties with Ouroboros. Osborne has an answer ready for all of these accusations. Osborne asks Olivier to work for him, but he refuses. The sudden visit of the Chancellor in Liberl has botched Olivier’s grand arrival in Erebonia, but he pivots, sending a message in the most Olivier-way possible. He requests for the Arseille to be flown next to Osborne’s airship, and then he tosses a bouquet of roses into the air and shoots it, resulting in the petals raining down all around Osborne and Lechter. Osborne, initially taken aback, laughs and says that he looks forward to what Olivier can do.
“I give thanks to Aidios for the good fortune to have been able to meet you today. May your journey be filled with beautiful roses and Her blessings… And, of course, may your journey to your homes be a safe and pleasant one.” – Prince Olivert
Significance: Is Olivier not the greatest character in the history of RPGs? I get chills every time I watch those rose petals scatter around Osborne’s feet, and see Olivier flip his hair as the Arseille flies away. This door, more than any other in the game, really feels like required reading for future games in the series. The appearance of the Blood and Iron Chancellor, who had name-dropped numerous times throughout the first two games, is genuinely shocking. Trails in the Sky the 3rd came out a full six years before the Cold Steel arc began! The long game that Falcom is playing never ceases to impress.
The private talk between Olivier and Osborne is riveting. Osborne is one of the more fascinating political figures in the Trails series, and you get a taste of that here. For every accusation Olivier levies at him he has a relatively justifiable response (minus the more-or-less admitted involvement with Ouroboros). Olivier criticizes him for annexing small territory after small territory; Osborne points out that the Erebonian military “hasn’t committed a single act of aggression” since the Hundred Days War. Olivier says that public order in these territories tends to fall into chaos shortly before the annexation due to the introduction of jaegers and other elements; Osborne says that this is “an inevitable consequence of the age of unchecked growth and progress in which we live.” He is simply seeking to restore order in places that need it. And then there’s the reforms in the Empire; it’s undeniable he’s made life better for the common man in a country that’s been ruled by a minority noble faction for most of its history. Still, Olivier is not on board with his methods, is clearly afraid of what Osborne has planned for the Empire, and has made it his mission to oppose him.
Having been one-upped on his planned return to the Empire, Olivier needs to act quickly or else be totally outdone by the chancellor. What follows is Olivier’s greatest moment (and boy is that saying something). It’s brilliant, it’s idiotic, and it succeeds in catching both Osborne and Lechter off guard. You can see the rose petals as symbolizing a number of different things. Maybe they’re representative of everything Olivier has learned during his stay in Liberl, and how he’s going to use his newfound strength to oppose Osborne at every turn. Olivier himself might say that they represent the power of love, or some other such-thing that would make Estelle want to hit him over the head with her staff. But what this act shows more than anything is his quick wit. He is going to be a worthy adversary for Osborne. This is one of the most unforgettable moments in the series, masterful writing by Falcom, and my top moment from Trails in the Sky the 3rd.