The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II
This summary contains spoilers for The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel II
Finale - Forward, Relentlessly
Shortly after their liberation of Trista, Class VII received a request from the Imperial Army. They asked them to rescue the Imperial family and Elise, who were being held captive at Karel Imperial Villa.
The fact that the students weren't affiliated with either faction made them perfect for this task. Under Towa's command, they began their mission the next day.
After reaching the villa and arriving at the top floor, they found the Imperial family, the Imperial governor, and Elise.
Altina and her puppet appeared and tried to stop them, but Class VII prevailed against them as they had all others before.
With no more obstacles in their way, Rean was reunited with Elise at long last.
Their job wasn't over yet, though, as the group learned Duke Cayenne had taken Prince Cedric.
As they tried to question Altina about where the prince had been taken, a pillar of light erupted from the capital.
It was centered where Valflame Palace should have been, but in the palace's place rose something dark and twisted...
The Infernal Castle. According to Emma, it was summoned forth by the Hexen Clan's most forbidden incantation.
Rean, however, could feel Crow's presence within the castle. He knew he was waiting for them there.
With that, Class VII resolved to make their way into the imposing structure.
Inside, members of both Ouroboros and Zephyr stood in their way. Though the students put up valiant fights, their foes were just too strong.
Well-timed aid from their more experienced allies allowed them to continue advancing through the castle, however.
After a long climb, they finally reached the Vermillion Throne--their final destination.
Crow and Vita were there waiting for them.
Duke Cayenne, standing next to an unconscious Prince Cedric, began to speak.
He told them that he was there to fulfill the ambitions of his ancestor, Emperor Orthros, the one known as the False Emperor during the War of the Lions.
His goal was to take control of the Infernal Castle, the Vermillion Knight, and the Empire.
Intent on putting a stop to Duke Cayenne's plans, Rean once again took up his sword to save Prince Cedric...and to settle things with Crow once and for all.
Crow and Vita also took up arms, and a battle unlike any other began.
It would be no easy battle, however, as Crow and Vita showed surprising levels of teamwork.
Class VII couldn't afford to lose this fight, though. Far too much was riding on it. Mustering everything they had, they were eventually able to eke out a victory.
This wasn't the end, however. Once the battle was over, both Rean and Crow jumped into their Divine Knights.
Pouring his feelings into his new blade, Rean stood face to face against Crow once more.
Their battle pushed each of them well beyond their limits, but in the end, it was Crow who was brought to his knees.
It was an outcome so incredible, the rest of Class VII could scarcely believe it. Rean's friends wasted no time surrounding and congratulating him once he had disembarked.
Crow and Vita accepted their loss, signaling the Noble Alliance's defeat and marking the end of the war.
Or rather, that's how things should have gone. In desperation, Duke Cayenne revived the entity responsible for a calamity 250 years prior, forcing the captive Cedric into its core.
The Vermillion Apocalypse.
It drew its power from the Vermillion Knight and the member of the Arnor family housed within it. Once the creature was freed, it wasted no time draining mana from all across the empire.
Thinking quickly, Vita activated a barrier that prevented Class VII from suffering the ill effects of this power.
But it was only a matter of time before the Apocalypse's overwhelming power broke through it.
It was enough time for Crow to devise a strategy, however.
The two Awakeners awaited their chance to take on this apocalyptic foe, boarding their Divine Knights after Class VII fought it off long enough for Valimar and Ordine to recover.
Their target now was the Vermillion Apocalypse's core--where Cedric was being held.
Crow took it upon himself to draw the Vermillion Apocalypse's attention in order to give Rean an opening.
In doing so, however, he allowed it to deal a blow that pierced Ordine's chest.
'I'm fine! It barely scratched me! You keep going!'
'You're the only one who can save him now, so don't you dare look back!'
Rean was shaken by the sight of this, yet Crow's words of encouragement were all he needed to close the distance to their target.
After a mighty blow, he had succeeded in ripping the monstrosity's core from its chest.
The creature bellowed out in agony before fading away for good. With that, Heimdallr had been saved from impending disaster.
Cedric himself was safe and sound, too, which came as a huge relief to the group. But it wasn't long before they noticed Crow wasn't with them.
They turned their attention to Ordine in search of him, only to see the Divine Knight had fallen to its knees.
A pallid Crow emerged from within, clutching at his chest.
Rushing to his aid, the group realized he had suffered a wound identical to Ordine's.
Emma and Celine tried their best to heal him, but it only delayed the inevitable.
As his life slipped through his grasp, he apologized to Rean for being unable to keep his promise to Towa and the others. With his final breath, he told them to continue fighting.
'Keep going forward...
Relentlessly, without looking back...'
'Then, as he sank into Rean's arms, Crow quietly passed away.
Yet, before they could even recover, Duke Cayenne let out an enraged bellow. In a desperate, final bid for victory, he held Cedric at knifepoint.
Vita, less than pleased with his selfishness, attempted to quiet him by force.
But an unexpected turn of events took place. Someone else dashed onto the scene, cutting down Vita's familiar, Grianos, without mercy and attacking the Azure Abyss herself.
To everyone's surprise, it was none other than Rufus Albarea.
He announced his intent to arrest both Duke Cayenne and Vita for their actions.
Those present questioned why Rufus had chosen to appear then, of all times, especially considering the Noble Alliance had already lost.
Further, why was he trying to arrest people who were part of his own faction? Their questions were answered by the appearance of Lechter and Claire...
Rufus Albarea had, in fact, been the primary member of the Ironbloods--an organization under Osborne's direct control--all along.
Duke Cayenne, equally stunned as Class VII, asked what he stood to gain by revealing this after Osborne's death. He received his answer, though not from the person he expected.
The man who now stood before them was a man who should not have been alive. The man Crow had shot through the heart: Chancellor Giliath Osborne.
The mission Osborne had given Rufus was to join the Noble Alliance and weaken it from within.
Furthermore, the chancellor announced that he would now be taking over Ouroboros' Phantasmal Blaze Plan. Still grieving his friend's death, Rean approached him.
'Why?! Why are YOU still alive?!'
'Crow shot you! You're supposed to be dead! Was everything he did... Was his whole life for NOTHING?!'
In response to Rean's furious outburst, Rufus informed him that Osborne's actions were tied to him as well.
Upon hearing this, a memory buried deep within Rean's mind resurfaced. A memory from twelve years ago, just before he was adopted by the Schwarzer family.
‘Rean... I pray you grow up strong and healthy.’
‘...Oh, Aidios... If you're listening, hear me now. Please, allow this child...’
As Rean stood there dazed, pondering what this memory could possibly have meant, a ruthless grin spread across Osborne's face.
'I'm glad to finally see you again, my son. You've grown into a fine young man.'
'Indeed, the Empire will soon know of the Ashen Chevalier, the hero whose brave deeds allowed us to reclaim the capital.'
'And who better to assist me than a national hero?'