As Cephiro crumbles, every person involved looks at it with anticipation, with their own motives – motives that, in some cases, change over time as their resolve hardens.
Back when Lantis was still residing in Cephiro, Zagato and Clef confided in him as the first ones to question the Pillar system, which is based on the sacrifice of one person's happiness for everyone else's – Clef worrying about Emeraude's happiness, Zagato wondering whether the heart of the Pillar was truly free.
Is this world truly beautiful?
At the palace, Clef, Ferio and Presea hold the fort. They all know how the Magic Knights were the ones to suffer the most from the last battle, and wish that the girls from the other world use the weapons and magic they have been given to protect themselves first and foremost this time around. As the search for a new Pillar progresses, a new determination forms: They want to preserve the world Emeraude loved, without seeing anyone being torn apart by their responsibility as the Pillar again. For that sake, if a new Pillar arises, they intend to tell them about Emeraude, about the reasons the last Pillar extinguished their own life, and the truth behind the Magic Knights' summoning. Ferio wants to let the legend end with his sister, even if warning the new Pillar of their potential fate might result in them rejecting the position and dooming Cephiro.
Did you notice? When we first met Clef, he said people in this land once lived in happiness, in harmony... But he never said this land was beautiful, not even when the princess was still the Pillar. We saw the blue sky, the green trees, and were so sure that when the princess still had peace of mind, it must have been even more beautiful... Yet not even once did Clef call this world beautiful. Perhaps he had understood. That this world, with its Pillar system, is a mistake. (Fuu)
Lantis, who had known about the feelings his brother and the princess harboured for each other and left Cephiro because he could not stand seeing their wishes unfulfilled, bears no ill will towards the Magic Knights. He is, however, set on finding the Path to the Pillar and destroying it so as to end the legend of the Magic Knights with his own hands. It is the sole reason for his return to Cephiro.
The Magic Knights
As outsiders, no one from Cephiro expects them to fight for it yet again. Although they do not know what they can accomplish and although there are dangers ahead, they have made up their minds to take part in this battle – this time not because they are told to do so, but of their own will: for themselves and for their own heart. Unable to forgive themselves for their previous naïveté and black and white thinking, their priority now is to make sure they know in advance what the enemy wants so that they won't do something they cannot forgive themselves for, so that they'll not shed tears of regret again.
We are not residents of Cephiro, just guests for a limited time. We haven't met anyone aside from Clef and his people. As strangers, we don't know about the good and bad in this land. We don't have the right to judge it. [...] It's true we only know a few people here, but I care about every one of them. Cephiro is their country. I don't want my friends to be unhappy. If by protecting this country, I'm protecting them, I will do it. (Fuu & Umi)
While everyone is looking for a new Pillar and the Path to the Pillar, the three of them share the emotional load that they have been through, encouraging each other to become stronger to protect those that they love. Each of them comes to question the self-sacrifice inherent to the Pillar system, with Hikaru desperately looking for another solution inside and outside of battles.
After having clashed with the Magic Knights and each other several times, Eagle holds a conference with the other invaders to question their motives and to deter them from taking over Cephiro.
Aska wants to make Cephiro a country full of sweets, and aims to bring happiness to both Faleng and Cephiro. Eagle explains to her that Cephiro's Pillar may only pray for Cephiro, devoting their entire heart to it without being allowed to think of anything else – for if they do, it will crumble as it already has. Aska retreats to think it over, finally thinking beyond her own greed and willing to learn more about Cephiro itself. She comes to realize that she cannot imagine not being able to love and live for anything other than Cephiro, as her heart already belongs to Faleng, and she knows her duty is to her own land. She does, however, believe that in order to do what is good for her land, it is important to learn what has transpired in Cephiro. For that reason, she will keep travelling on the path of light.
Tarta wishes to annex Cephiro without oppressing its people. Eagle points this out as idealistic thinking as they would be perceived as invaders and would have to fight Cephiro's defenders regardless. When Tatra inquires about his motives, wondering whether he is merely after the mechanism of Cephiro's Pillar system or whether Cephiro ought to be the emigration land for Autozam's people, he merely responds with a smile. Tarta eventually decides to move towards Cephiro not with the intention to invade, but to help it fend off Autozam; since Cephiro used to be a land of miracles with long-lasting peace, it has no army – Autozam, on the other hand, hungers for a solution and cannot be negotiated with.
In contrast to Faleng and Chizetha, Eagle is willing to give his life for Cephiro. As he aims to become Cephiro's new Pillar, he can't allow Lantis to destroy the Path to the Pillar. His true motives are, much to his subcommander's chagrin, still unclear.
Strength of Heart is part of the Caged Songbird Network © 2015-2019 Lethe
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