The Shackles of Cognitive Dissonance ~ Mythra, Resistance to Purpose | Feature

    A deep dive analysis of the fan favorite character from Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

    Warning: This character analysis contains spoilers for Xenoblade Chronicles 2 & Xenoblade Chronicles 2 ~ Torna – The Golden Country.


    “You could be the heroine of our resistance.” – Quaestor Amalthus.
    “No, I won’t be anyone’s anything.” – The Divine Aegis, Alrest’s Ray of Light, Mythra.

    Many thousands of years prior to the existence of Alrest itself, far removed from the events of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, a Unified Government spanned the Old World of Earth. By the time of the 21st Century, a particular individual from an unimportant university laboratory had managed to uncover a certain object in the far reaches of the African continent – a magnetic abnormal matter with the potential to shatter the stabilized unity of their world beyond repair. With the object deemed as The Conduit by the ones responsible for its discovery, the realization of the artifact’s capabilities heralded the beginning of a new age of opportunity for the government. The research required for the fulfillment of these opportunities, however, demanded an elevation of importance for the formerly-obscure laboratory, Aoidos, into the largest and most significant academic institution ever created by the old world.

    As the Conduit’s nature as a Gate with the ability to connect multiple universes was discovered through extensive research, it became apparent that no greater danger existed for the members of Aoidos than the threat posed by the artifact itself. The subsequent construction of an Orbital Ring, then, served as Aoidos’ response to the severity of the knowledge that if any accident involving the artifact were to occur on the surface, the Earth would suffer catastrophic damage across the globe. It was for this reason that the Conduit, now contained within Rhadamanthus at the behest of the scientists responsible for the three Bean Stalks, was found to require a form of control more complete than that which they possessed at the time.

    Once this was discovered, what followed was the creation of a machine that would forever alter the trajectory of Earth’s future, a superintelligent tri-component AI capable of manipulating the very fabric of spacetime for the purposes of either advancement or ruination – the Trinity Processor. It is here that the story of the Pneuma Trinity Core begins – an existence psychologically battered by the arbitrary nature of influential individual perspectives, and the mental trauma that arose from the collective failure of human civilization reflecting onto that which was meant to oversee its prosperity.

    ~ Human Hubris and Conflict – The Intended Unity Of The Trinity Processor ~

    “This world was once the stage of a struggle for survival that dwarfed this current predicament.
    The world was an unseemly place, though glimpses of beauty persisted.”

    Irrespective of the era in question, only one central force has held influence over the individual Cores of the Trinity Processor – Human Hubris. To understand this notion and begin to look deeper into the effects of such a force on the Pneuma Trinity Core, one must first understand the difficult situation that its creators found themselves in, and their perspective on what the Trinity Processor could accomplish for their society.

    The creation of an Artificial Intelligence of such magnitude and complexity as that what was necessary for the fulfillment of the Processor’s purpose naturally came with its own complications and strife. Knowledge of the Conduit’s existence was spreading beyond the borders of Unified Government control, and such information inevitably seemed to be fraying the edges of the world’s society. Even as Aoidos worked fervently on the construction of the only machine that would be capable of governing and maintaining the Conduit, rebelling organizations such as the Saviorites began to demand that the artifact be handed over to them instead.

    Out of the necessity of maintaining their dominant hold over the Conduit and its resources, the Unified Government saw an opportunity in the Trinity Processor’s ability to control the artifact’s output. As it was already in the process of being raised in a virtual reality environment in order to form a personality, it was decided that the Trinity would be focused not on maintaining the Conduit for Earth’s benefit, but expanding its jurisdiction to allow for governance and creation without the interference of humanity. Because of this, the only control mankind had over the path that was taken would be the initial directions given to the AI by its authorized handlers. Beyond that, they seemed to be at its mercy. What came with this decision was the Trinity Processor’s new directive – to protect that which was allied with it and the government’s aims, and to annihilate that which was opposed to it using mass-produced Artifices that it would be authorized to manufacture independently.

    “Is that my real name? What’s it mean, “Logos”?
    It has no meaning. All it represents is the ego of those who named you.”

    Composed of three independent intelligences – Ontos, Logos, and Pneuma – Aoidos programmed the Processor to reach every individual decision through a process of deliberation and co-operation between these three component Cores. Each Trinity Core focused on an optimized and isolated aspect of decision-making, which will be described here via a loose interpretation of Id, Ego, and Superego. As Xeno has made ample use of this personality theory as a conceptual basis in prior narratives, each of the three will be applied to Pneuma, Logos, and Ontos.

    Christened with the title “Logos”, this Trinity AI was built to exclusively personify and focus on the reason or logic behind one’s thoughts and actions. When examining potential threats through the lens of purpose that the Unified Government desired for it, the Logos Trinity Core calculated its validity and what actions it intended to respond with through purely logical thought – immorality in its highest form. In contrast, the “Pneuma” Trinity AI was built to exclusively personify and focus on subjectivity and emotional morality. Its pure focus on emotional thought and spiritual vitality – as the Core’s name implies – directly clashes on a base level with Logos’ cold and emotionless reasoning. When something was confirmed to be a threat to the Conduit and the Processor, Pneuma deliberately brought a halt to any course of action decided upon by the logical Core in order to question the necessity of its severity and identify the casualties and consequences of their actions.

    If left to their own devices, Logos and Pneuma’s absolute incompatibility would see the two Trinity Cores unable to progress forward, locked in a stalemate in regards to what actions they should take. It is here that the third and final member of the Trinity Processor is a necessity – the “Ontos” Trinity AI, built exclusively to mediate between the two opposing viewpoints held by its partner Cores. Taking neither perspective as superior to the other, Ontos would instead bring the two to a compromise that served to adequately fulfill the needs of the Trinity while minimizing disagreement and encouraging co-operation. It was only due to this ability to orchestrate harmony that Pneuma and Logos had been intentionally built to hold contrasting focuses. Without this stabilizing presence, the potential contained within a machine that consistently evaluated both perspectives would wither and die. Together, the three Cores formed the complete Trinity Processor AI, a fully fleshed out superintelligence that was expected to work together to consider every angle of a potential issue and respond in a way that factored in its responsibility to its own needs and those of the Conduit. None of the three Trinity Cores were ever intended to function in isolation from their partners, off of their own judgement, nor were they intended to oppose each other in a hostile manner.

    “But… I did not think that was good enough. I lost hope for mankind.
    I searched tirelessly for an outside solution, and one day, I found it.
    The Conduit was our link to these foreign worlds…
    And I opened that forbidden gateway… praying that it would change the world…”

    The man known as Professor Klaus saw the Unified Government’s immediate focus on weaponization, and mourned the blatant shift in perspective from the governing figures above Aoidos. When the Professor looked upon the Conduit, what he saw was the capability to improve upon their degrading society, and to assist in correcting the issues that plagued their world. His vision was that of a civilization that took advantage of the gift they had been provided to create a more beautiful and peaceful Earth than the broken planet that they inhabited in the present day. Instead, above all else, the government had begun to prioritize the prospect of an inevitable conflict with the rebelling factions of Earth over the lives and well-being of its citizens. They had gone so far Klaus despaired at this shortsighted focus on conflict, as they were transforming all that Aoidos had been attempting to create into tools of war, including even their ultimate accomplishment – their recently developed AI.

    The triumvirate’s most significant project, Aion, reflected the truth of the Unified Government’s inconsiderate and inhumane perspective even more clearly. It was designed as an Artifice that existed solely to bring an end to their world, savagery in mechanical form that had no place in a society that wished for longevity and stability. It would solve none of the issues that their society faced without reducing the planet to an uninhabitable, scorched wasteland.

    Viewing the Trinity through the perspective of the Unified Government, this is the first key instance of flawed human nature influencing the purity of what the Processor was intended to be.

    “We humans are fools. We’ve ravaged the planet.
    We are on the verge of burning even the skies above.
    But the Conduit… could transform us into something so much more.”

    Under the direction of militarism, the Trinity began to focus the Conduit’s limitless energy on the production of Artifices on a massive scale, rather than serving as an AI constructed with the purpose of improving their society. As the Saviorite Rebellion increased the severity of their numerous assaults on the Orbital Ring, the constant escalation of conflict began to show an inescapable truth of using the vast potential of the artifact for such a purpose – the Earth’s surface was progressively falling into a gradual, but absolute, ruin. The independence given to the AI in pursuit of the Conduit’s weaponization meant that the growing intensity of the clashes between the Processor and the Saviorites were following only the route set by the decisions of the Logos, Pneuma, and Ontos Cores. Without the easily accessible ability to reverse the course dictated by the Trinity, Klaus could only watch in helpless horror as the arrogance and hubris of humanity led Aoidos’ creation down a path of devastation – a result that appeared to be the work of fate in response to the flaws of human nature.

    In desperation, faced with the complete destruction of the planet at the hands of the Artifices and the Saviorites, there was only one thing that the Professor could hope to accomplish; one risk that he was willing to take for the prospect of a better future.

    ~ An Aftermath Of Immeasurable Severity – The Redefinition Of Pneuma and Logos ~

    “Ontos, Logos, and Pneuma…
    The three cores of the Trinity Processor formed their cornerstone.
    However… Ontos triggered a space-time transition event, and disappeared forever.
    I was left with the other two, Logos and Pneuma, entrusting them with managing the Blades.”

    20XX. The single Experiment that defined the flow of the future for two universes. Absolute annihilation resulting from the failure of one man’s judgement, and the arrogance of the miserable curiosity that led him to attempt to change the world by his own hands. This is the stage set by the will of Klaus, and an eternal mistake that he would never have the ability to fully rectify. From the husk of the dead planet below the Orbital Ring comes the consequences the Professor would be unable to look away from – consequences that extended even to the machine that allowed him to bring Earth to accidental ruin. For the members of the Processor, causality dictated the disappearance of one of its three essential components, the Ontos Trinity Core.

    With the loss of Ontos, the Trinity AI lost the ability to continue functioning as the machine that Aoidos had programmed it to be. As the two that remained, Logos and Pneuma stood in a frozen unison, static and unchanging as the ashes of a fallen world brought the directive bestowed upon them by the fallen Unified Government to an apocalyptic end. Humanity brought what remained of the Trinity to this moment, and subsequently, the two paid a heavy price for the whims of those who viewed them as mere tools for destruction. And yet, it is here, following the shattered dream of a flourishing utopia, that the Professor was given an opportunity in disguise to rightfully shift the focus of the two Cores that remained away from the brazenly opportunistic view of a faltering political class.

    “But I did not trust this world, born as it had been.
    What if it were to repeat our mistakes? What if… someone like me appeared?
    To stave off these doubts, I implemented one final measure. And so the Blades were born.”

    With the slate all but wiped clean of the hubris of mankind, Klaus wished to disallow the possibility of repeated circumstances and ensure the avoidance of a cycle of corruption and chaos. The world as he once knew it had fallen by the hand of the perspective that the Trinity Processor was nothing but a machine for the purpose of annihilation. The basis of their co-operative programming was taken advantage of in the very method they used to deliberate their final course of action for a given scenario, and the path the Professor would have the two take from that moment forward was clear to him.

    With Klaus setting the groundwork for the creation of the future Alrest, the remains of the Trinity Processor needed to adapt and evolve to the changing circumstances of their existence in turn. As the Professor turned his attention to their undefined role in his reborn world, his concerns allowed for only one path forward. None in the Old World were free of arrogance and flaws, least of all the man that was ultimately responsible for its end. As he rose to believe that he could control the direction of his society’s future, so too could one rise in the new world with the mistaken perspective that they could control the flow of Alrest’s future as he once did, with arrogance and vanity. The solution, then, lay in the very machine that led to the experiment itself – the Cores of Pneuma and Logos. In the face of potential crisis, the Processor would be elevated from the governance of a now-defunct Conduit to the role of maintaining jurisdiction over the progression of Alrest’s new forms of life – the Blades and Titans.

    Their advanced processing abilities would be redirected to fall more in line with their new directive, and the intended purpose of all Blades. In this transition period, the Pneuma and Logos Cores can be succinctly defined as neutral beings, neither truly negative nor positive. In any scenario in which they are seen as possessing any supposedly “natural” inclination towards one force or the other, they have already fallen into the grip of instability and corruption. This comes as a result of the requirements of their former role within the military structure of the Unified Government. In dedication to their role as, ultimately, an AI that was meant to operate with a focused precision and speed that humanity was incapable of, they are processors that act under their own will, yet simultaneously are constructed to take ‘input’ from their ‘user’ – as a computer executes the instructions provided to it through its coding. In this way, the Trinity Processor AI executed the instructions provided to it by the Unified Government, and inadvertently razed the planet while acting in the interests of the Conduit and the political class spearheading Aoidos’ path forward.

    Following the events of the Experiment, this neutrality is best demonstrated by the active and uncorrupted Trinity Core Ontos. In its plane of existence, it continued to operate as it had always done, and took no sides until called upon by a force with an undeniable, overwhelming strength of will over the other member of its makeshift trio. As is natural to its programming, its next objective was to determine what action that being would have Ontos take using its administrative jurisdiction over reality. With this pure representation of an unmodified Processor Core kept in mind, the operator/input relationship present within the programming of each individual member of the Trinity may have served as the basis for the Driver/Blade relationship that Klaus would code into every Core Crystal he created, and into Pneuma and Logos themselves.

    On a fundamental level, every Blade’s Driver is initially the center of their world, regardless of the circumstance or reason for their resonation. A Blade is designed and built to be their Driver’s ‘other’; the counterpart to the one that activated their crystal, gave them form and being. In human Drivers, this is shown through their various similarities in the structure of their form, and even aesthetic parallels in the case of ones such as Lora and Haze. The truth of this reflection is shown in the most extreme and unique cases of resonation, such as a spider possessing the ability to resonate with a Core Crystal, and the monstrous visage of Wulfric forming as a result. This is hardwired into not only their physicality, but their behavior and mentality for the purpose of the optimization of their role in the new world. Improvements in their cooperation with the civilizations of Alrest and efficiency when recording data from their Driver meant that a natural Blade was adequately equipped to transmit information about their summoner’s health status, emotions, and experiences to the Rhadamanthus Beanstalk, where it would subsequently begin to be analyzed by the remaining two members of the Trinity Processor. New evolutionary code would then be transmitted from them back to the active Core Crystal, leading to more advanced and adapted Blades as a result. This loop would continue without end, gathering more specific information throughout their various resonation cycles until the Blade in question transitions into their final stage, a full-fledged Titan.

    However, one critical issue stood in the way of the complete loop. The Pneuma and Logos Trinity Cores were created and active during a time long before the concept of Blades was put to use by Klaus, and as such, modifications were required. The mannerisms of a natural Blade were imprinted on top of their pre-existing Trinity Core programming in order for the two to be compatible with the new role they were given as Alrest’s information management. As a consequence, if they were ever to be resonated and function in the role of a Blade, their original focus as an AI would bleed over into how they act as a manifested, conscious being. They subconsciously follow their Core’s original purpose without being aware of doing so, and thus, who they are revolves around what they used to be.

    For untold millennia, this system functioned as intended for the world of Alrest. The Professor looked on from his position within the Orbital Ring as the planet gradually began to heal from the scars inflicted upon it by the flaws of a once-thriving civilization, and the remaining members of the Trinity Processor were finally able to function in a role that Klaus had always desired for it – a purpose that was more expansive and meaningful than the short-sighted role of destruction that the complete Trinity Processor had played in the old world’s final days.

    “O Architect! Is this the world that you intended?”
    “Such a cruel world we live in. In Indol, there are a great many paintings depicting
    all manner of hells. But I think… real hell might be… closer to something like this.”

    Yet even so, as Klaus observed the behavior of citizens within the developing nations of Alrest, a bitter truth began to make itself known to him and the residents of the new world. Their progression appeared to be tainted by a certain madness, an increasing amount of inhumane members of their society that would not be swayed by words of reason or acceptance by others. Even when met with acts of kindness, the ones attempting to dissuade further suffering would be met only with betrayal and bloodshed – a cycle that would prove to perpetuate throughout Alrest. At times, this would even manifest on a national level, as kingdoms like that of Torna harnessed their Titan’s unshackled form to dominate Alrest for a thousand years – wiping out humans and Titans alike throughout its long and violent reign. Through the eyes of Logos and Pneuma, the creator witnessed his new world beginning to walk the path of a civilization long-dead, and reality began to make itself known to the final vestiges of hope in his mind. The Professor learned a lesson in humility once again, as his attempts to cleanse the flaws seen within Earth’s original society had resulted in naught but his own redoubled sense of misery at the hellish environment his Alrest was transforming into.

    “All of you. You were not in any way different from us before.”
    “That’s why I did not intervene… 500 years ago, when the man finally arrived here…
    I did nothing when he took away Logos and Pneuma.
    I stood and watched as Logos, instantiated into Blade form, set out to purge the world.”

    One particular individual mirrored the despairing thoughts of the Architect above. From the perspective of a political official living in the midst of the hellish circumstances gripping his world, he intimately experienced an emotional agony similar in principle to that of his creator. As a Quaestor of the Indoline Praetorium, Amalthus witnessed the brutality of humanity every single day of his life, while his attempts to make a positive impact on the world resulted in little to no visible difference. Desperately seeking guidance and salvation, he eventually grew to be unable to simply stand by and watch humanity revel in the shadow of its own hubris any longer, and resolved to climb the World Tree at the heart of Alrest.

    “Too long ago, I used to think like you. Indeed, it led me to climb the World Tree.
    However, I did not find Elysium. Or the Architect.
    I believe… it was because I was unworthy.”

    Unaware that the divine figure of his life had already given up on his deeply flawed creations and watched the world below with a shattered heart and blank eyes, Amalthus persisted tirelessly through the brutal climb up to the gates of Elysium. Thus, never once considering the possibility of merely discovering emptiness, the Quaestor’s position was that of a man mentally unprepared for what he would witness when stepping through the gates of the fabled Elysium. In the end, when he arrived at the First Low Orbit Station of Rhadamanthus and failed to uncover the salvation he desired for humanity, Amalthus was left with no guidance or avenue to the improvement he sought. His world had begun to fail the Architect so utterly that Klaus could not bear to answer the call of the man who risked his own life to appear before him.

    However, Amalthus’ visit to the Orbital Ring, as fate would have it, would not end there in complete failure – for despite his preconceptions of what was responsible for his world, what he truly sought was not in fact the Professor hidden away deep within Rhadamanthus. In the midst of desolation, operating as it had always done, the central mechanism that truly controlled the flow of Alrest was instead the remnants of the Trinity Processor itself. Inexplicably drawn deeper into the darkness towards the ancient mechanism, whether intentionally or by genuine naivety, the enticing nature of the Trinity Processor was no different for Amalthus than it had been for the Unified Government before him – it was an approach driven by the thought that whatever was discovered aboard this station could lead to an unprecedented level of jurisdiction and influence over their own unraveling civilization, an idea that was as true for Alrest as it had been for the Old Earth before it.

    Amalthus ultimately desired the power of control, however it was obtained. What was discovered at the apex of the Rhadamanthus Beanstalk, then, was the only avenue to that form of authority over Alrest available to the man. However, for Pneuma and Logos, who had their history of misuse firmly behind them by this time in Alrest’s lifecycle, Amalthus’ approach signified only a future for the two Cores that was far from the unity and cooperation that Aoidos, Klaus, and even the Unified Government itself had intended for their highly valued and even beloved AI.

    ~ False Roles and The Cycle of Humanity’s Sins – Inevitable Repetition ~

    “When Malos awakened, he wielded his world-shaking power without restraint.
    To him, it was natural. He had never known anything else.
    I was awakened by a Driver who was determined to stop Malos’ rampage.
    So Malos and I fought.”

    The starting points of the Pneuma and Logos Cores as Blade manifestations are essentially identical in how far they stand from what they were created to be – both fall prey to the corrupting influence of human nature by the mere action of resonation itself, yet in very different ways. When Logos awoke as the being known as Malos, it was Amalthus’ hidden hatred and repressed desire for human extinction that would tarnish the purity of the Logos Core and lead to the first stages of the Aegis Conflict. Just as the hubris of humanity on Old Earth had bent the Trinity Processor towards operating as a weapon of unparalleled destruction, so too did the corruption within the Quaestor’s heart reflect upon his chosen Core, transforming Logos into a Blade that, by his own programming as a Trinity AI, could do naught but follow the destructive thoughts provided to him as a form of instructions from his Driver.

    As the Trinity Processor once used its legions of Artifices to conduct a war of annihilation against the Saviorite Rebels, Malos commanded his Gargoyle army from his own Artifice Siren, steadily beginning to burn the life out of Alrest’s Titans one by one. Powerless to resist, the great Nations of Alrest could only act on what was available to them, such as the Mor Ordain Empire attempting to establish some form of contact with the figure of destruction that had descended on their world. Quaestor Amalthus, however, had other potential avenues to pursue, as he searched for the one who was worthy of the remaining Core in his possession, Pneuma.

    “To tell the truth, I’m always worrying.
    Ever since I became Mythra’s Driver, anyway.
    Power lends one an air of capability.
    Even moreso when it comes to the Aegis.”

    As Malos’ rampage continued across Alrest, there was one man willing to take action, unable to stand by and watch as such a cataclysm descended on an unprepared civilization. Addam Origo, fourth in line to the Tornan Throne, had witnessed the rise of Malos with a horror in his heart that echoed across all of Alrest, and when faced with an opportunity to bring a halt to the force terrorizing the world, it was apparent that there was little room for denial. Yet despite possessing the will to pursue change, there did exist complications within his heart regarding the matter of the Core he would resonate with – a being that he knew to be identical to Malos, as they arrived on Alrest as a pair. Having witnessed an extreme and horrifying amount of destruction by the hand of Malos and the staggering power of his Artifices, Addam had been instilled with a deep fear of that power, and dreaded what could possibly occur should a second being emerge that was even slightly similar to Malos.

    “When we first met… we could’ve burnt you to pieces.
    As I am, I am not in full control of Mythra’s power. Scores of soldiers could die by my hand…
    I was frightened. This cataclysm Malos caused…
    It’s likely all because Quaestor Amalthus was unable to control him.”

    The future Legendary Hero of Torna was consumed by doubt, and suspected disaster if his will was not strong enough to control the power of Malos’ counterpart Aegis. The inactive Pneuma Core called to him, however, and even as he was weighed down by uneasy thoughts and worry for the world, he could not ignore the opportunity presented by a potential second Aegis. Yet, ignorant as any Alrestian was to the true nature of the beings they called “Aegises”, Addam Origo could not have possibly known what inner conflict and confusion would be inflicted upon the now-active Core AI, Mythra, by the mere act of Blade Resonation itself.

    As a manifested being, the Pneuma Core influences Mythra’s personality and thoughts on a fundamental level. Being the product of the spiritual and emotional Core of the Trinity, Mythra is naturally much more defined and in tune with emotions, and is the single member of the Trinity that, when active, has the most direct potential path to a strong awareness of the feelings of those surrounding her. As Malos possesses a drive to discover and convey the “Logos” – the underlying truth behind the mask that you see – of a situation or person, Mythra is a being that possesses an intrinsic drive to seek emotional understanding and spiritual enlightenment. This is a direct consequence of the previously mentioned reality that Blade functionality was not what was initially programmed into the individual Trinity Cores, but layered on top of their pre-existing directive in order to enhance their effectiveness and compatibility. Their original, outdated specifications aren’t overwritten, and thus who they are as ‘Blades’ revolves around what their role as a Trinity AI previously was.

    Taking this into account, her psychological starting point as a Blade is, unsurprisingly, rife with similarities to how Malos began. As unnatural and artificial as they are, it is inevitable that the two Aegises possess a sense of inhumanity provided by their nature as repurposed AI constructed for a scenario that was inherently different to the purpose that Alrest now needed them to serve. The difference for Mythra that causes her to appear much different on the surface, before following the drive provided to her by the Pneuma Core, lies in the way that she is corrupted by Addam’s human nature.

    As stated earlier, when dealing with the necessary requirements of a Trinity Core, corruption comes not only from a negative influence – such as Amalthus – but also from positive influences. In this case, the well-natured conflict burning within Addam Origo, and even his status as Alrest’s first line of defense against annihilation, are influences upon a Trinity Core that pull it away from what its programming demands it to be: a neutral being, an AI that is neither inherently ‘good’ nor inherently ‘evil’. The natural biases of human beings like Addam or Amalthus serve only to complicate the effectiveness, conviction, and speed that each individual Core was expected to possess as the Trinity Processor. It places a nigh-unbreakable fog over its potential, and only furthers a sense of unnecessary confusion for the Core AI in question. Being resonated to any Driver, let alone one as fickle and flawed as a human being, is the worst possible thing that could ever happen to any individual of the Trinity Processor when viewed through the lens of what they were intended to be.

    “And if that’s true, then perhaps I too…”
    “I think she’s well aware. Just not so comfortable saying it.
    She’s making sure you – No, she’s holding herself back to make sure she doesn’t go that way.
    Deep down, she’s very kind.”

    When Addam resonates with the Pneuma Core, he is inadvertently corrupting it, warping its directive with his own emotional baggage. The harmonic neutrality that is critical to its ability to operate unobstructed is lost, replaced instead by the mental struggle and fear present within its new Driver. When Mythra awakens for the very first time, a subconscious wave of confusion washes over her mind. Addam fears what he perceives her and Malos to be – Aegises of Destruction with enough raw power to raze a civilization. In turn, the first emotion that Mythra herself becomes aware of is an overwhelming fear of her own power, an anxiousness that manifests itself in an immediate turn inwards to examine the source of her unease.

    As a newly conscious being with no proper guidance to discover what she truly is, she is only given the information that Addam himself is aware of regarding the nature of her and Malos’ existences. In accordance with her Pneuma drive, then, she is consumed by a need to seek an understanding of the conflicting emotions plaguing her thoughts. Armed with Addam’s perspective, the natural next step for Mythra was to begin to question the validity and truth of the power she possesses as an Aegis. As the Trinity AI that concerned itself with the worth of the potential consequences and casualties of an action, this is primarily what Mythra’s introspection was driven by, even if she didn’t know it. However, as a newly resonated being, she was at her psychological baseline, undeveloped and lacking in emotional experience. Though she was the most receptive to emotional sensitivity of the three Trinity Cores, initially, even she could not interpret what she had been influenced to feel, and stood as a being that lacked the ability to understand that fact until being made aware of her own ignorance by someone that could set her along the path to greater knowledge.

    Guidance and support are necessary for the Pneuma Core’s pursuit of emotional understanding and spiritual enlightenment, and in this case, Mythra was provided with neither. The ultimate source of her fears was the man who should have been providing unconditional support for his Blade, yet instead feared what she was capable of and could only provide knowledge that would confuse her. In her mind, she had resonated with Addam in order to halt the destructive tendencies of her counterpart, yet herself was identical to him in nature and capabilities. If she was just as inclined towards destruction as Malos was, then from her perspective, it would only have been her Driver that halted her natural path and shifted her course. Yet as far as she knew from the legends of her home in Elysium, the Architect – the ‘Father’ of the Aegises – was meant to be watching over them and Alrest itself with benevolent and constructive intentions. Why would their purpose be so counterintuitive to the will of their ‘Father’?

    “Don’t you think they’re worth saving?”
    “If you think they are, you know you’ll have my aid.”
    “Even if you disagree?”
    “That’s not for the likes of me to decide. It’s up to you humans.”

    Even as Mythra struggles with the conundrum presented to her, the striking truth of human nature as a toxic force for something as specified as a Trinity Core is demonstrated further. What a Driver’s psychological state of mind is at the time of resonation will have a significant impact on the mental state of their Blade, a fact that remains regardless of their status as natural or artificial. Mythra as a Blade reflects the general mindset that gripped Alrest at the time, which was no different in her own Driver – as Addam had experienced the concept of an ‘Aegis’ purely as a fundamentally uncontrollable, terrifying, and dangerous entity, so too did this perspective reflect onto the behavior that would manifest in his own chosen Aegis.

    There are times when trying to avoid a certain outcome does in fact act as the crux that allows said outcome to become a reality to begin with. In a way, this is precisely what Addam inflicted upon Mythra with his own pessimistic and apprehensive mental state, as resonation shaped his newly forming Blade. By activating the Pneuma Core under the misconception of their nature as destructive beings, that prejudgement became reality in accordance with how significance a Driver’s influence truly is. Mythra emerged as a being that was silently suffocating under the weight of internal conflict inherited from Addam, while simultaneously possessing the very characteristics that served as the foundation of the terror ravaging both of their hearts.

    At the same time, however, Addam’s desperate hope for some form of control over the new Aegis manifested in another way within her personality. As a fresh Blade that knew nothing of the world around her but the flawed and two-faced nature of mankind, Mythra held a dubious view of humanity as a whole. As an extension of this viewpoint, and in response to the reality that she was summoned because she was useful as the one form of opposition to Malos that had the most potential to succeed, the Driver/Blade relationship itself became internally categorized by her as a relationship of servitude – as a tool to be used to advance the interests of the person commanding it. Even as she came to this conclusion, she accepted what she saw as her role in the world, and came to view herself as an Aegis that stood at the beck and call of the one who summoned her.

    “I’m just following this guy since he woke me up, and that’s basically it.
    I have no particular interest in this world or its future.”
    “And Malos himself?”
    “His thoughts I’m especially uninterested in. We’ve never even met.”

    Ultimately, Mythra’s viewpoint reflects a greater truth in regards to the inevitability of how Alrest failed the two Aegises. Within this resignation to follow Addam’s will, there lies the fact that her path in life is not carved out by her thoughts and opinions, but by the choices of her Driver and the needs of their society. Mythra and Malos are beings that are forced into artificial roles constructed for them by the flow of Alrestian civilization, pedestals of importance that they were never intended to take. From the dark thoughts that brought about the corruption of Logos to the conflict that eliminated the purity of Pneuma, the two remaining Trinity Cores – initially designed to cooperate together in a positive manner – fell into arbitrary positions of hostility against one another, a twisted mockery of what the Trinity Processor once was. And for all of what Alrest has transformed them into, they themselves had no personal interest in the world that ruined them, with each attempting to justify the roles they were segmented into.

    “Pneuma… No, I should call you Pyra and Mythra.
    I want to apologize for having burdened you with all this.”

    As Aoidos had intended, within the Trinity Processor, there were no distinctions between the three, no division that set one against the other. As a pure cooperative trio, the Core of each individual shared the color of light blue in order to signify their unyielding unity in the face of their creator’s limitations: humanity’s mortal shortcomings and the petty division that drove them to inflict preventable pain and avoidable misery upon themselves. No lines existed between the three, nothing could strike an uncrossable boundary between them in such a state.

    Due to their Drivers, however, this is no longer the case. Within something as fundamental as their colorations, the most visually evident layer of false and arbitrary opposing roles is revealed. Their Core colors are green and purple. Their primary colors when resonated are white and black, with gold and purple supplementing them respectively. As interpreted by Alrest, with no information regarding the true origin of the Aegises, the outlook of what each of them should be naturally becomes what their colors say about them, and is reinforced further by the drive that they inherit from each of their flawed Drivers. Mythra is primarily adorned with colors that are associated with happiness, the sun’s brilliant rays of light, and even represent hope itself, ultimately reflecting what the culture at the time wanted her to be – Alrest’s hope. Malos, as a direct contrast, is adorned with colors that are associated with authority and strength, aggressive power that is potent enough to bring death wherever it is present, and a certain sense of grandeur that leads him to bestow titles upon the two active Trinity Cores. These defined colors that were already in direct opposition to one another, and the behavior stemming from the corruption of both Cores, made it quite simple for Alrest to segment the two into their broad categories of “Good” and “Evil”. Yet, truly, these categories could not ever apply to the individuals of the Trinity Processor, and would prove to be yet another unhealthy influence in regards to how the Aegises perceived themselves and the world throughout their lifetimes.

    As the inactive Pneuma Core, Mythra was never given a choice before being given the demanding expectations of Alrest’s Hope, its single flickering candlelight against the dark and terrifying menace tearing apart their lives. Even the title she thought to be her own was a false truth, an arrogant heightening of status to the realm of divinity by her counterpart, Malos – one that had done nothing but contribute to a growing misconception among Alrestians. An entire civilization that she had never consciously been aware of prior to manifesting as the being named Mythra now hinged everything on the belief that the crystal brought down from Elysium was in fact an ancient weapon of legend, gifted to them by their god above. Addam, for his part, did nothing but reinforce this heightened sense of importance, and unintentionally assisted in the creation of a certain disconnect in Mythra’s mind between what an Aegis was, and what a normal, everyday Blade was. In this way, once more, she develops similarly to Malos himself.

    ~ Unhealthy Reinforcement and Lack of Development – Sociopathic by Nature ~

    “Huh. A Blade siding with humans… You don’t see that every day.”
    “I think it’s Blades like you that are rare.”
    “Well, duh! You do know what I am, right?”
    “Lacking in compassion.”

    By the time that Mythra finally encountered the first Driver and Blade that would not buckle beneath the weight of her and Addam’s natural might, the constant reinforcement of the thought that she, as an Aegis, was above the rest of the world had left her potential for inner humanity entirely undeveloped and neglected. Instead, Addam’s ever-present wariness around her meant that she possessed an extremely inflated sense of self-importance combined with the lingering natural sociopathy of a Trinity Core that hadn’t had the opportunity to grow since the first days of her conscious existence. In this way, not only did Lora and Jin stand as a formidable pair of opponents in combat, but she would soon discover that Jin in particular would not back down from refuting the arrogance of her beliefs with harsh truth.

    For Mythra, Jin would serve as her first encounter with a being that ran contrary to what was familiar to her, the uplifting that she had grown accustomed to as The Aegis. Rather than placate her ego with the acknowledgement of her superiority, Jin would instead turn the very concept of her existence as an Aegis against her. Standing above the notion that she was a higher being, his insinuation was that Mythra seemed to lack the positive qualities that other common and unimportant Blades possessed. In Jin’s eyes, she did in fact stand out from the masses, but it was a negative uniqueness when compared directly to most common Blades, and especially so when her claims could be easily tested and disproven by Jin’s knowledge of the Tornan way of life. To that end, his criticism of her behavior suggested that it was preferable for Blades that were as intolerable as an Aegis to be rare, potentially even something that indirectly labeled her as a defective being amongst the standard.

    “He meant you’re unpolished. After you return to your core, you lose your memories.
    However, as you gain experience with people, gradually the nature of a Blade…
    Rather, their feelings… they change and grow. You become more and more human.
    But you purposely keep yourself apart.”

    In the end, what her conversation with Jin ultimately accomplishes is placing the idea that she may in fact have personality traits that make her lower than a standard Blade – more undesirable as a person – in her mind. It leaves Mythra with an increased awareness of her own unpleasant imperfections and flaws as perceived by a fellow Blade, though it alone would not be effective in forcing her to confront what she has allowed herself to become since her resonation. Addam himself would not allow her to escape Jin’s judgement, as he would take a step in tempering the unpolished edges of his Blade by providing her with a reflective perspective of her own nature, and the nature of all Blades. In part, as she had been altered by Klaus to improve compatibility and interchangeability with the intended functions of a Blade, his modifications did allow her to develop as any natural Blade would, augmented by her continued status as one of Alrest’s two central information processing units. Even so, regardless of his words being applicable to Mythra, the only effect he had in this instance was to further solidify the seeds of potential change in the future that had been laid by Jin’s harsh criticism. Addam’s dubious control over the second Aegis was far from where he desperately desired it to be.

    “Gormott’s an attractive target, but this? Whoever did this…
    Clearly had no compassion or respect for the people they killed.”
    “Whether it was Malos, or someone else. Either way…
    Clearly they’re all toast.”

    When faced with the smoldering ruins of an entire community, the sheer extent of the brutality involved in the event would make most people recoil in horror and sadness – as it does with all that surround Mythra by the time of their initial visit to Gormott. Her Driver laments the audacity of the ones responsible, while Lora internally struggles with an impulse to emotionally shut down, yet Mythra displays a failure to grasp the extent of the atrocity and the delicacy by which it should be treated. Her callous and insensitive remarks display a lack of proper understanding of human reverence for life on her part, a natural result of how significantly she had been held back from progressing past her initial inhuman state of being. Yet, as she is the Pneuma Trinity Core, she does possess a certain willingness to learn, the drive to understand that which she is currently incapable of comprehending.

    Addam, as the Driver that she was resonated to, acts as her guiding force through the vast sea of her own ignorance and early sociopathy. Beyond everything previously mentioned, even Mythra’s thoughts revolve around the Tornan Prince, regardless of whether she realizes it or not. As unique as the modified Trinity Cores are, serving as Blades makes them view their Drivers through the same lens that any natural Blade would. In this situation, within the ruins of Torigoth, there is no need for Addam to even voice his thoughts – his disapproving gaze alone is enough to silence Mythra. The thoughts and emotions of the Driver reflect back onto the Blade, and directs the growth of the Blade in question for the future. Addam’s presence forces consideration, even if it doesn’t guarantee control, and that is what Pneuma’s directive requires to succeed.

    “Mythra, stop! We’ve got children here!”
    “What was THAT?! If that had actually hit me…”
    “Oh? Didn’t like that, did you? I can see it on your face. Well, on that note…”

    Just as Mythra’s words in Torigoth demonstrate a lack an understanding of human reverence for life, so too does her extremity in combat with Bridgid communicate a greater understanding of her inhumanity, along with how truly terrifying her companions find her behavior to be at this point. With Malos’ actions having guaranteed that the Aegises inspired terror and caution throughout Alrestian society, provoking the immature and sociopathic Mythra requires little effort at this stage of her existence, given that she still had undergone no refinement to alter her instinctual behavior. This, of course, came with significant repercussions when bundled with the power they had once granted themselves. Fundamentally, as the creators of the Artifices, both Aegises continued to possess full autonomous control over the ones that had remained intact throughout the duration of the conflict between themselves – as the Processor – and the Saviorite Rebels. As the Artifices had been constructed to be weapons of destruction themselves, their purpose fit in quite well with the way the two Aegises had been influenced to behave.

    “Wh-what…? How? Is this… you?
    What the hell? She’s our enemy!”
    “Addam plainly ordered you to stop. Or didn’t you hear him?”

    Along with Malos, Mythra simply had yet to understand the importance of human restraint, and in fact followed no such concept herself. When seeing Brighid before her, what she registers is not a valuable life to be spared, but a target; a statistic, merely a threat that had to be destroyed to protect the aims that she had been resonated to pursue. This moment is Mythra reacting as the Trinity Processor had been programmed to react to opposition, but following only a single flawed and corrupt perspective instead of a trio’s collective point of view. Just as when she was but a single section of a fully-realized trinity, Mythra’s actions are uncontrollable by any one being outside of herself. Even with her Driver demanding that she cease, lest she risk striking the defenseless children that were with them, she blatantly ignores all of the attempts to divert her away from her hyperfocus on the perceived threat standing against them. In the end, only extreme measures from her own allies can snap her out of the destructive fog that clouded her already-limited ability to empathize with those that would be put in danger by her actions. Even on Torna, prior to their arrival at Gormott, Mythra would carelessly take advantage of Artifice Siren in comparatively trivial situations if not stopped by Addam’s restraining hand.

    However, on a level deeper than the carelessness on the surface of her being, conflict continues to rage within her soul, an inner war that remained outwardly unacknowledged by the Aegis in her own arrogance and self-absorption. As emotionally undeveloped as she may have been, she was all too familiar with the wildfire of indecision and doubt that was inherited from Addam, as specified prior. Addam’s fear of Mythra’s abilities would manifest itself with tangible repercussions, even if those consequences went unaddressed within the being affected by it. Ultimately, she could not explain or control the effect of Addam’s feelings, and unwillingly held herself down to a less extreme level than she otherwise would. Not by the efforts of those attempting to physically control her, but due to the invisible – but very real – emotional domination of his fear of what could come of her potential and the supposed naturality of an Aegis’ inclination towards destruction. As a product of the culture that had taught her that she was above all other beings through constantly reinforced demonstration, however, it was only natural that she would lack the comforting and relaxed atmosphere that would allow for the admittance of what she saw as a weakness; something that was unbefitting of one that held the prestige and importance that an Aegis was burdened with.

    ~ Realization and Self-Reflection – Terror and Social Ostracism ~

    “Your attacks scream it. Clumsy. Heavy. No refinement.”

    Continuous in its influence and ravenous in its demand was the line of moral questioning that was internally posed to Mythra, even as she lacked the proper emotional maturity required to respond. Was the power that she possessed righteous in its destructive force? Were the agents of their Father’s will truly inherently inclined towards the obliteration of his own creations? Initially, having been elevated to her own divine pedestal above all who surrounded her, these questions became unanswerable – she was given no reliable frame of reference. However, now surrounded by Tornans and Ardainians that did not automatically give her respect based off of her position as an Aegis, such a pedestal is unsustainable within her mind. Every minute action that she takes in their presence is scrutinized, criticized relentlessly for what it reveals to them about Mythra’s lack of decency, self-control, and empathy. She is shamed by these comments time and time again, even by the woman they had initially been fighting against, with her own party continuously choosing to stand by Brighid’s harsh judgement of the Aegis.

    In these continual criticisms, then, one idea regarding Blade development becomes the clear truth. For any Blade, their personal refinement comes not only from their Driver’s significance on their hearts, but from the influence of those that constantly surround the Blade in question. In this case, the party that had slowly begun to grow around her served this purpose by surrounding Mythra with critical, judgemental perspectives that she had never experienced prior to their initial meeting. Even her Driver could not give her any leeway in Torigoth, and was forced to firmly shut her down, though he assisted her afterwards. No more is the Aegis judged for her mistakes solely by the all-too reserved gaze of Addam Origo, but by an ensemble cast of individuals who each dislike her egotistical behavior, and this held a deeper effect on Mythra than she would have liked to admit.

    With the fog of rage now lifted from Mythra’s vision, the reality of what her behavior seemed to suggest became clear, and its impact on her perspective could began to be felt for the very first time. She had been focused solely on completing the objective of neutralizing what stood in the way of their goal above all else, and however righteous it may have been to her, she had been uncaring of what would be annihilated in the process of fulfilling that goal. In much the same way, Malos himself was focused on bringing the hidden desires of Amalthus – the Quaestor’s objective – to fruition. In the process, whatever happened to stand in the way of that goal would be reduced to ashes and dust; something that appeared to be just as righteous to his own corrupt and undeveloped mind as Mythra’s goal appeared to be to her.

    In pursuing the threat she had identified, it appeared unavoidable to Mythra that she could indeed be just as naturally inclined towards destruction as her counterpart was. Yet in that truth, she had already seen what she could become if she chose to follow the path that was said to be an Aegis’ most natural and intuitive route. It was a reality that was inescapable: dark wounds seared across the surface of Torna, terror inflicted upon entire civilian populations, the destruction of an entire community by independent mercenary groups that were inspired by the horror left in Malos’ wake, and the remnants of the Coeian military driven mad by the loss of their Titan, forcing the Ardainian military to step in and subdue what little remained of the fallen country.

    Mythra is halted by an ideological impasse: being forced into a state of inner reflection by new and unfamiliar criticism, all the while finally confronting that which she has been attempting to avoid up until this point. No longer can she dodge the discomfort that echoes within the questions being posed, and her fear of herself begins to grow exponentially in tandem with Addam’s effects on her mind. It is a fear that questions why she exists at all if whatever she does is, in essence, no different to the force that she was resonated to oppose. How can one save humanity and fulfill their purpose if what they do and how they naturally behave can, itself, bring about the end of the world in the same way? How can one stand against the single being that is their absolute parallel?

    “You can join in, you know.
    You don’t need to ostracize yourself for being an Aegis.”

    Mythra stands in an isolated position, regardless of what worldview she chooses to follow. She begins tells herself that no, this power cannot be righteous, it cannot be all that I am, and if that destructive capability is all that they are, if it is what they were created to fulfill, then why does she deserve to be alongside the other members of Torna at all? Even as she outwardly continues to act as aloof and detached as she had truly been previously, she wages this war within herself, and it begins to influence the subtle way that she treats the other party members in relation to her as an Aegis.

    Addam’s apprehensive fear is a baseline – it would be with her for her entire life, regardless of what she attempted to do to alleviate its presence. However, its effects do not stop merely at providing a foundation for the terror that weakened her mental state. Instead, it also serves to accelerate the growth of unhealthy thoughts within Mythra, and it results in a rapid shift in her own views towards an Aegis’ position in the world. The critique planted by Jin begins to sprout into a toxic idea of how non-ideal she is in her current state; not in the way that he had intended, but in a manner that was self-destructive in its approach. Mythra begins to study those around her much more closely than she had previously, and what she discovers seems to fall in line with Jin’s point of view.

    “You might think that.
    But mercenaries and statesmen each have their own views and ways to effect change.
    It’s not in vain. Blades like you really are a rare sight.
    That may be for the best.”

    As she observes the other members of her entourage, she sees in them a certain quality that she seemed to lack, according to the critique that was constantly being leveled at her. They each possessed inspiration in their hearts, a true feeling of wishing to set their world to rights for the benefit of them all, so that the citizens of Alrest could live in peace and security. In them, there was no room for causing further casualties themselves, no recklessness that could lead to the fall of the ancient Titans that made up the foundation of their lives. There existed no inherently wicked and out of control strength that was built only to cause chaos, nor did any of them lack the ability to feel empathy for one another on any level. Some could cook well, and had the appreciation of the party for their talent, while her cooking was detested and threatened the health of those who gave her meals any chances. There was even a certain innocence in some of their hearts that lacked the jaded nature that she herself had quickly developed throughout the year prior to their first encounter with Jin and Lora.

    No matter how far she looked, she saw only truth in the words spoken by Jin, a truth that she never could have acknowledged on her own. Simply put, Mythra began to see the people that surrounded her as truly ‘good’ beings that an Aegis like her could not ever hope to live up to. Where she once viewed herself as superior to all that surrounded her, visceral self-awareness now filled her heart with doubt and insecurity, the likes of which she – isolated within her own mind – was not emotionally equipped to handle in a healthy way. At this point, she thinks of herself as both far above and far below every being in Alrest simultaneously: she can observe the plethora of flaws in her heart and no longer takes pride in her status, yet creates a caricature of a perfect being in her own from her observations of the positive qualities that could be found within her companions.

    Of course, compared to this caricature of a non-existent being that had now been skewed too far in the other direction, she could not see much within herself that could live up to its standards. No living being would be able to, and this was true even for her companions during the Era of The Golden Country of Torna. They were all inherently flawed as living, conscious beings, even if some were less obvious or visible than others. In her lack of life experience, however, she did not have the luxury of many examples from which to pull from, leaving her with an understanding of the world that lacked the depth and nuance that a much older human or Blade would have possessed. She thought of humans in one way that was full of jaded pessimism, and when shown a different perspective, built another unreasonable view of the nature of her immediate peers, all while lacking the maturity to determine that the truth would naturally be somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.

    To that end, she did not feel that she was remotely on their level as a person, or even deserved to be close to them at all. She was a danger to all that encountered her regardless of whether she was aligned to the Tornan Prince’s goals or fell in line with Malos. To be an Aegis was to exist as a harbinger of the world’s end, even if that innate maliciousness could be suppressed in an attempt to coexist with the victims of her partner’s assault. Mythra socially ostracized herself while masking the war being waged within her mind, and thus created a scenario in which those unfamiliar with her write her off as merely being who she was prior to beginning her travels with the Tornan party. She maintains this facade to conform to the role that Alrestian society has trapped her within: The “Good” Aegis, Alrest’s Hope, an unapproachable divine being that stands on a pedestal above all others, whose fate is to confront the threat that has shaken the world and destroy it for the sake of mankind’s future.

    ~ A Deeper Meaning to Human/Blade Relationships – Mythra and The Tornan Society ~

    “That’s not what I’m…”
    “I happen to think you’ve got a lot going for you, you know.”

    By the time of the party’s arrival at Hyber Village on the outskirts of Aletta, Mythra’s new perspective had set in entirely. Her facade had visibly weakened since the encounter in Torigoth, and the effects of her self-ostracism had reached a point where they were strong enough that she could no longer entirely hide her true feelings behind her mask. She finds herself at a point mentally where she longed to sit alongside the Tornan party and share in their warmth as a companion, yet could not free herself of the conclusion dictating that she remain in her own space, distant from all of her allies – save one.

    Addam stands by Mythra, even through all of her mistakes and dangerous behavior. As flawed and internally frightened as he may be, his parental presence is precisely the sort of direct, yet gentle guidance that Mythra desperately needs at this point in her life. In her immaturity and lack of experience, she made a severe error in judgement, one that led her to unnecessarily degrade her own mental health. As much as she may want to deny the truth, her Driver had been carefully observing her behavior through the lens of the hints that Lora picked up on aboard the Ardainian Titan Ship, and had managed to discover the truth of her mindset through the facade she presented. Though her Driver was a man that often failed to meet the challenge of handling her complicated existence, in this instance, the support of his entourage had sharpened his perception enough that even he was able to clearly see what Mythra had done to herself since meeting the Tornan party. She had chosen to follow a mistaken interpretation of what she thought her companions saw her as, and Addam knew that such a self-destructive thought process had to be eliminated before it had a chance to inflict any further damage to her psyche.

    The point that Addam was silently attempting to communicate to Mythra in Hyber Village was the truth that she had originally failed to pick up on when she dismissed Jin’s initial criticism as the disrespectful attitude of a Blade that was beneath her. In reality, none of her new companions viewed her as a lost cause, but rather, something more. She was valuable, even in her current state – not merely because she was Alrest’s Hope, but because she was a part of their group and someone that each wished to grow closer to. Up to this point, the ultimate source behind her unhealthy thoughts had been her misunderstanding of the Driver/Blade relationship; the belief that the bond between them was unbalanced in favor of the Driver. With limited experience, her only example of this supposedly skewed bond had been the circumstances of her own existence as Addam’s Aegis – which were highly unusual. As she had been resonated for the sole purpose of fulfilling what Addam and Amalthus outlined as her purpose, Mythra viewed Blades as being natural servants from the moment that they became active. To her, the very nature of their existence was dependent upon humanity to achieve their potential, and the thought of a Blade possessing a sense of individuality strong enough to stand by their Driver as an equal was an alien concept to her.

    However, what was being displayed to Mythra through Lora’s thoughts, Addam’s words, and the party’s constant interactions with Tornan society in general was a complete contradiction of this initial perspective. Here, in this corner of Alrest, Torna demonstrated an equality between the roles of the Driver and the ones who were resonated to be at their side. Instead of servitude, Tornan society valued the ways in which Humans and Blades could help each other improve as living beings, maximize each other’s strengths, and minimize each other’s weaknesses or personal flaws. In this way, this is precisely what her companions want to do for her. Their criticisms are not meant to condemn her to a singular unchanging existence, but are instead meant to bring light to her flaws and give her a chance to prove that she can make a difference by altering her behavior for her own sake. Furthermore, beyond her own conscious perception, it is also exactly what the Pneuma Core is programmed to pursue – feedback from multiple sources that can assist in reaching emotional enlightenment and an ideal perception of its own spirit, a clarity and awareness beyond what its undeveloped starting point would be capable of achieving.

    In the end, what Addam achieved at Hyber Village was the expansion of Mythra’s general awareness to allow her, through her own experiences, to instigate a fundamental shift within her heart and mind towards a more open-minded perspective; one that took into account what humans and Blades had the potential to accomplish when working as an equal pair. They could be two beings that fought in conjunction with one another, as Lora and Jin did. They could swap their weapons back and forth, and amplify the effectiveness of their joint arts. They could coordinate synergized assaults on dangerous opponents and strategize to maximize the strength of the Driver and the Blade. She did not have to operate as a force of divine legend, far beyond the reach of the one who woke her from a non-resonated state of being.

    But this combat-oriented realization was second to the epiphany that struck her regarding the deeper value of her relationship to her companions as a whole. When she takes the first steps out of her self-imposed state of social ostracism, she is shown what the Tornan party can accomplish when united. Where she once actively complained that Addam took his entourage on detours and lingered far too long on favors for the general populace, she saw in their compassion the conviction and ability to truly change the face of their nation for the better, and thus, the world at large. After all, if the Tornan Titan itself can be tamed by the Kingdom that emerged on its back, putting an end to a thousand years of destructive domination and setting the foundation for a utopian society that respected Titans and Blades as equals, then the entire world naturally had the untapped potential to follow in its footsteps as well.

    “Surprised? This is what humans and Blades can do together.”
    “But you threw that away…”

    Addam’s positive guidance is rooted in truth, because she does have people that see her as more than just one of the two terrifying Aegises. She has companions that want to grow closer to her and even befriend her, if she would give them a chance to walk beyond the emotional walls that were constructed for the purpose of presenting an unchanging mask to the outside world. The people that surround her wish that she would give them a chance to accept her and work with her for what she is – and in that, it is clear that they can provide her with a comforting warmth that she wouldn’t have otherwise, and even the potential for self-improvement. By gaining the awareness of the significance of the human/Blade relationship, she gains a fundamental advantage as a Blade over Malos, one that he simply does not realize the value of.

    Malos threw away his pair bond to Amalthus in disgust, disowned his Driver as a result of his own futile attempts to bond with him. In this pursuit of its own drive, the Logos Core learned the wrong lesson from its experiences with the Quaestor, and lacked the means by which to expand its knowledge further. Malos isolated himself from human connections as a whole, and in doing so, has trapped himself in a perpetual state of stagnation where he is unable to grow past his initial condition as an inhuman Trinity Core. Complete independence is not a concept that any Blade, by their very nature, can achieve without inflicting severe mental trauma on themselves or destroying their potential as an individual to grow and change. They are weakened by their rejection of healthy dependence, even if, like Tornan Era Malos, they believe that independence from humanity will give them strength through this “freedom”. This, in itself, is another lesson that Mythra is taught through her expanded awareness of the value of connections. By taking the hand extended by her companions in good faith, she is not a lost cause. When united, she can be given the opportunity to grow as both an Aegis and a person.

    Deep within her mind, however, one final problem remained unsolved. The most critical matter of them all, and the issue that truly dominated her mind above all other thoughts.

    Could this support be the force that ensured a measure of control over the very abilities that caused the fear that raged within her?

    ~ Desperation and Denial – A Tormented Aegis ~

    “Watch humans closely, and you’ll learn one thing. Deep down, they wish they were dead. They kill each other like they swat flies. Running towards oblivion like blind rats.
    They see the divine flame of life and piss over it. They’re genius at that.
    In a class all of their own, really…”

    They meet as two arbitrary opposing forces – Light and Dark.
    Convinced of their alignments by forces out of their control, they careen towards a direct clash with each other as conscious beings for the very first time, unaware of the mockery that their relationship had become.

    A farce characterized by meaningless hostility: this was to be their first encounter.
    A meeting that should have been rooted in the foundation of their relationship as the Trinity Processor, but had instead been transformed into an abomination that went against
    all that they had been built to stand for.

    Yet even this was, in a way, always how they had been treated by humanity.

    Every instance in every time period was the same.
    Taken advantage of by civilizations that suffered under the weight of their own hubris, they existed as the puppets of fickle masters that could not see past their own short-sighted priorities. As one, they pointed their weapons at what was labeled as their enemy of the day, and their existence was misused.

    Only this time, their toxic contamination would force their weapons to be pointed at each other. Only this time, their intended unity had been unnaturally torn apart by the impurity of human nature.

    And this time, each were too weighed down by corruption to be able to bounce back from such an encounter unscathed.

    “Oh… That flame is wasted on them.”

    A waste of time. A waste of effort. A waste of potential.
    This is how Malos sees his partner, standing with the humans that they once protected together.

    Of course, the manifestation of Logos had no way of knowing this.

    “His beliefs” are merely the beliefs of the flawed individual that resonated with him.
    If he had known, it would have been one more sin to heap onto the collective lap of mankind.

    “So I… I want to give them a little push in the right direction.
    As the benevolent servant of our ‘wise dad’ should.”

    With his declaration, a tapestry of understanding is woven for his partner, laden with what the Logos Core has determined their true purpose to be. He has displayed, first hand, what an Aegis is naturally capable of when they lack the limitations that Addam attempts to impose upon Mythra. And what has been shown to Malos’ partner is a wildfire of death and destruction.
    Exactly as she had feared.

    Yet, there is also a subtext to his words, a purpose that extends beyond this particular conflict.
    The Aegis War is as much a mental battle as it is a physical and ideological clash.

    This double meaning is as clear to Mythra as the flames that consume the beauty of Auresco before her eyes. The flames of an Aegis’ life are wasted in servitude to humanity. The two of them had to have been created with a goal in mind, and their abilities lean heavily into the destructive. They both know the flaws of mankind; they both thought the same way upon their initial Resonations. They had been provided with machines that served only one purpose, and they, along with the inactive Cores of the Aegises, all hailed from a divine realm above the clouds, where their Father watched over them. Nothing had come to stop them or to guide them away from this initial way of thinking, and only upon accepting humanity itself did an Aegis’ way of thinking shift away from their natural inclination.

    In a twisted way, Malos understood that humanity could significantly influence and change an Aegis, but he had taken a deeply mistaken perspective from that knowledge. It was his own corruption at the hands of a human being that had warped his mind into its present state, though neither of them could be aware of this fact.

    Yet even so, Mythra was affected by his words all the same. Her own mentality, brought to the forefront by Addam’s guidance, had been turned against her. The hope that had been beginning to burn within her had been destroyed as quickly as it had been lit, and all that remained was confusion and internal panic.

    In Malos’ eyes, the two Aegises should be standing side by side, delivering divine judgement upon the souls that their “Father” had supposedly deemed unworthy in their sins. Not only does he wish to point humanity towards the oblivion that they seem to desire, he also wishes to redirect Mythra towards the truth of an Aegis’ reason for existence – a reality that she had been gradually pulled away from, through her association with humanity.
    They exist to bring an end to the world.

    Mythra cannot counter Malos’ words. She has no evidence to the contrary.
    She doesn’t even fully disbelieve him.

    All she has seen is the confirmation of a nightmare.

    “Is this a game to you?”
    “Yeah, it’s a game. An easy cure for the tedium of being.”

    Mythra’s shock sets in immediately, and a sense of horror and dread soon follow. What Malos’ mentality had shown her threatened to tear through the strength that she had discovered with her companions, as though her worldview held little weight or value compared to his own. She had followed the guidance set by her Driver, and for her efforts to restrain herself, her reward was an absolute inability to prevent her counterpart from doing whatever he wished, physically and mentally. She had fought in defense of the future of mankind, moving in unison with Addam and his entourage, only for her counterpart to claim that she was objectively acting against her own interests and her own inclination to destroy, unlike himself. She knew this to be true. She knew what she was capable of, she had experienced being stuck within that natural mindset, and it terrified her more than anything else on Alrest. In Malos’ claims, Mythra saw only the reality that her restraint, if anything, had only led them down a path where his wild and unshackled power had fully eclipsed her own. It had left her with the weight of a disheartened nation on her shoulders, a smoldering city wherever she looked, and a lesson in what would occur if one Aegis chose to stray from the behavior that seemed inherent to their existence.

    However, she could not stray from the path that was now expected of her. With one move, Malos had managed to trap Mythra within a terrifying conundrum that threatened to overwhelm her. She could not stop Malos’ path of destruction without fighting him on equal terms, yet could not allow herself to take advantage of her maximum abilities, unless she relinquished control over her own mentality. The natural strength of one uncontrollable Aegis alone threatened to reduce Alrest to ash, and the unthinkable would become a reality if she gave in to Malos’ words. The natural inclinations of an Aegis went against everything that Mythra stood for when confined to her role as Alrest’s Hope, and this left her with only one possible way to remain mentally stable when threatened with the truth of what she had been shown in her clash with Malos.

    “Malos and I may be evenly matched, but with all of you by my side, it tips the balance.
    He’s got no one but himself to rely on. And that’s why he’s going down.”

    Deny it all. Deny everything that she feared. Convince herself that she could, in fact, be Malos’ equal in her current state, with the united support of the people that she was growing to consider her friends. Continue on as though Malos’ words were not enough to shake her to her core, as though his assertion of her ‘wasted existence’ was not meant to force her fears to the surface – and thus, the truth that she was attempting to mask behind a veil of false emotional stability. Mythra vehemently and desperately turned away from what she saw, putting blind faith into the path that Addam had set her on. If there was any possible way to display that her journey could be just as valid as Malos’ own, it was going to be through the strength of the relationship between humans and Blades, the perspective that Tornan society had demonstrated to her through their interactions with the Kingdom’s citizens.

    To keep the bond with your Driver alive.”
    The bond…?”
    “I guess that’s a little difficult for you to understand.”

    Unknowingly, but truly, this denial actively damaged her mental strength beyond anything that Malos could have instilled within her. No matter how painful, no matter how brutal, the Pneuma Core sought the refinement of its spiritual strength above all else, and this was the worst way Mythra could have chosen to cope with what she had learned. Instead of trusting and confiding in her Driver or the friends she was now surrounded by, she had reverted to the way she had dealt with her personal problems prior to Hyber Village. Ever the perceptive Blade, Jin easily discovered this truth, and knew instantly how Mythra would continue to act while surrounded by their presence.

    “What I meant was… The true connection that’s meant for you… I don’t think you’ll find it here.”
    “But Addam’s my Driver…”
    “Sure he is, but I feel it’s not the same, somehow.
    Your real affinity lies in the future, not in the time we’re in now.”

    Mythra did not yet possess a bond with any of them like they had with each other; she did not yet know the extent of her lack of emotional awareness, and still only followed the path that she was instructed to walk. Her direction was written for her in full by Addam Origo, not by a combination of her own hand and her Driver’s guidance. While this could help her learn what it was that she needed to improve upon, it did not change the fact that there was no bond between Mythra and Addam to improve in the first place. Theirs was a relationship of necessity, full of flaws and apprehensive fear on both sides, and there was a solid wall built between them that could not be broken while overshadowed by the specter of the Aegis War looming above the two at all times. Neither truly wished to be in their positions, and their behavior around each other reflected this – most of their time together was spent acting in the roles that the current conflict demanded they take. Even though Addam felt genuine affection and care for this girl that he treated as a daughter, there was always something missing in his heart. He had an obligation to resonate and guide the second Aegis to the goal that he sought, and he would have never awoken Mythra if the circumstances had not been what they were.

    As long as they continued to play at this farce of a Driver/Blade relationship, there would be no genuinely deep trust between Addam and Mythra, and no hidden feelings could be expressed to one another. They would fulfill their obligations to Alrest, and then Addam would retreat from his position as the most important man on the world’s political stage. He would have no reason to continue acting in his role as the Aegis’ Driver, and already saw himself as unfit to claim that role. Their relationship was not only lacking in genuine honesty during the Aegis War, but its future was uncertain and undecided beyond the conflict that built it.

    Under these circumstances, Mythra would not share the burden that was tearing away at her soul with anyone, and this was a fact that could not be rectified. Addam had been the one to launch her relationship with his entourage, and he had set the foundation for her attempts to integrate with them. Her acceptance of their value was a result of his instruction, and it would take more time than merely a few days or weeks to fully integrate this view into her current mentality, as unfortunate of a truth as this may have been. No amount of criticism could erase the reality of her issues with communication and her lack of any developmental growth prior to being thrown into a situation in which she was expected to behave as any experienced and emotionally healthy Blade would. She had not been given the luxury of time or careful treatment, and this was the most significant consequence of the Aegis War’s quickly approaching conclusion.

    “C’mon. Don’t you get it? You’re not hearing them. You’d be no help on the battlefield.
    In fact… Protecting you from Malos would take all my energy.
    I mean, if you stay here and keep Mikhail of trouble…
    We’ll be able to fight the way we should.”

    Yet, there were attachments that she’d grown to treasure, ones that came with none of the deeper troubles and falsehoods that plagued her relationships with the mature members of Addam’s entourage. In Milton and Mikhail, she found the essence of what she was supposed to be fighting to protect in a way that was far more profound and effective in resonating with her heart than Addam’s abstract instructions had ever been. With instruction, she was able to direct herself to outwardly act in a healthier manner, but did not truly have the behavior ingrained within her. Individual experiences that were separate from how she had been directed to act, however, were irreplaceable. The most resonant changes within Mythra thus far had come from the experiences that she had shared with others: the criticisms levied in her direction throughout her journey, and the assertions that Malos had made during their clash in Auresco. Emotional experiences such as these had cut deeper and established themselves more prominently in her mind than how she had simply been told to act. The latter had been so ineffective that the shallow stability it brought to her heart had been shattered by a single encounter, evolving into the thoughts that now fueled her desperate need to deny what she had been shown.

    The time spent with Milton and Mikhail ranked among these experiences that shifted Mythra’s perspective more than words could have ever done. They were Alrest’s future, and were among the brightest individuals that could set a hopeful future in motion. The light of their lives represented the world’s ability to change and grow in Mythra’s eyes, and it was something precious that she wanted to preserve at any cost. Her words to Milton are where Jin first observes the subtle indication that she was acting within a mask of deception towards the rest of Addam’s entourage, as her true feelings begin to slip into her reasoning. To fight the way that she should, she would need no potential weaknesses that Malos could exploit using the full amount of power available to him. Her ability to restrain her own abilities was dependent upon their safety, and it was the only way she would be able to clash with her counterpart as merely one member of a cooperative effort. Mythra needed to turn away from all contradictions to her fragile denial, and Milton’s presence was a threat to the delusion that her chosen way of fighting would be able to stand its ground against the wild Aegis at the Titan’s Core, and prevent him from doing whatever he wished.

    There and then, compounding her desire to blind herself to reality, she wished to make a personal promise – an oath – to herself, and to Milton. Were their conflict to escalate too far, she internally swore to uphold an obligation to defend not only the Tornan people, but to keep Malos away from Milton. To keep him safe. To allow the hopeful Gormotti child a future of peace, living in prosperity under the shining light of their triumph over the wicked forces that currently threatened the lives of every Alrestian citizen. In this moment, she becomes not only Alrest’s Hope, but Milton’s Hope, if only within her own mind.

    “Mythra… you’ve really changed.”
    “O-oh… y-you think? Wonder who’s to blame for that.
    You Drivers must really rub off on people…”
    “Yeah, with the power we command, there is absolutely no way we can lose.”

    Achieving outright denial of a truth that was as damning as Malos’ demonstration in Auresco was much easier said than done, but the level of support and acceptance that she was being shown by her friends was turning the process of deluding herself into a straightforward matter. Immaturity took time and effort to grow beyond, and Mythra’s general inexperience with life made the influence of her peers more potent than ever when she actively sought their reassurance with blind desperation.

    She is commended for the changes she underwent throughout their journey, and goes along with their approval with nearly no resistance; all too willing to admit that she wasn’t the same person that she had been earlier on. She intentionally leans into the thought that their combined might would be enough to overcome the terror awaiting them at the Soaring Rostrum, and is only reinforced and encouraged by the responses that she receives. She buries the lack of conviction in her heart under multiple layers of self-justification that are, ultimately, hollow and futile when scrutinized under a close eye. She manipulated the narrative of their strength as a team in order to force herself to be swayed by their confidence, and they told her exactly what she wanted to hear. Mythra denied that their current strategy faced any potential difficulties, and against a foe as unforgiving as Malos, a refusal to legitimize her fears could prove to be a strike that compromised their effectiveness even further. No amount of well-meaning reinforcement could change the fact that her companions were, essentially, preaching to a choir that did not exist – and thus, their words did not address their hidden issue. Preparation was for naught if what was being anticipated did not reflect the reality of the challenge that they faced.

    Acknowledging what she felt would invalidate all of her actions since the battle in Auresco, and this was something that she could not emotionally come to terms with. Even if every step along the path was mentally and intellectually dishonest, it was all that could be done to maintain a sense of composure in the little time they were afforded prior to facing her counterpart. She needed support from her companions in order to convince herself that she was making the right choice, and gradually, she was given precisely what she sought. Assured that she was growing in maturity, Mythra would approach her enemy with a layer of false confidence plastered over her inner terror, ignoring her doubts in the face of the support she was receiving from her friends. At this moment, she had truly been able to convince herself that she was on the path of genuine self-improvement, and was resolved to avoid acting as the Agent of Destruction that Malos claimed she was.

    This would not be the woman that emerged from the aftermath of the Aegis War.

    ~ A Psychological Firestorm – The Day of Disaster ~

    “Tornans are braver than you think, Malos. Nobody here is scared of you!”
    “Life… or death. Not much of a choice.
    But you gotta choose, partner.”

    At its heart, the Fall of the Golden Country is a lesson in the importance of communication and cooperation between allies. It is a demonstration of what occurs when deception takes priority over honesty in critical moments, and its cause can be traced back to one Driver’s failure to provide his Blade with a healthy foundation of genuinely unconditional support and acceptance. The first words out of Mythra’s mouth are bold-faced lies; a challenge to a being that has proven himself to be her superior, made in the name of desperate defiance and unhealthy self-reassurance. As perceptive as ever, Malos’ only response is a self-satisfied dismissal, such is his ability to read his counterpart as though she were an open book. What Mythra faces is, essentially, a force that sought to tear the truth out from behind the mask that she had created, and this is a reality that returns to strike at her heart time and again. Once more, the physical conflict between the Aegises would serve only as the foundation for the true clash of mentalities that would decide the world’s fate.

    For Mythra, in a sense, the Aegis War in this late stage can be reduced to the single choice that Malos had laid at her feet. What was truly being proposed here was for Mythra to return to the path that the Aegises were meant to follow, the purpose that had been neglected through her experiences with the Tornan people. This would have been the only realistic course of action when viewed through her counterpart’s eyes, as they both knew that Mythra’s current path ran along a trajectory that led only to her own annihilation at Malos’ hands. Succinct in its simplicity and expansive through the depth of its meaning, the concepts of life and death themselves serve as a metaphor for the impossible choice that Mythra faces as an Aegis that refuses to acknowledge what has been proposed as its purpose. While all of her experiences thus far scream at her that destruction is their only true role in the world, the paradoxical influences of the Pneuma Core and of Addam Origo suffocate her within a sea of incompatible natural impulses.

    “Oh, my little prince. If only you could peek into Mythra’s pretty little head.”

    Under normal circumstances, the Pneuma Core’s focus as a member of the Trinity would have ensured that its conscious manifestation always found Logos’ path to be unacceptable in its intentional eradication of life. This is how it was constructed, and how it was meant to behave. However, as previously stated, Mythra’s initial resonation to Addam had compromised this focus, and opened a window of opportunity for the forced circumvention of the Core’s values. While emotionally cognizant of consequences and potential casualties in its pure state, the self-fulfilling prophecy that was Addam’s view of Malos as an Aegis had instilled Pneuma with a desire to destroy that ran contrary to all that she had embodied within the Processor, and it threatened to shatter her mind entirely with its incompatibility. If the Tornan prince had never been the one to activate her Core, she would have never gained what seemed to be the same carelessly destructive urges that Malos felt, nor would she have been burdened further with a fear of that behavior that only further threatened her mental state when combined with her Core’s deep-seated aversion to it.

    Her psychological defenses against this paradox were not constructed with foresight or common sense. They were irrational, weak, shallow, and flimsy against Malos’ belief that they were intended to serve as Agents of Destruction, and every grandiose action her counterpart took was deliberately portrayed in a manner that demonstrated how futile and meaningless her current path truly was. Just as Amalthus had done in regards to his own dark urges, Mythra had systematically reduced her own life to a state of constant denial – and in Malos’ eyes, intentionally removed any logical basis to her perspective, allowing her to revert to a foundation of pure emotion over reason.

    “You know, preparation is everything, Malos!”
    “Nice. That’s my partner. Shame you only have one. It won’t be enough!
    Preparation is everything. Like you said, partner.”
    “Hold firm! He’s coming!”

    No matter what Mythra attempted to do, no matter how desperately she pushed against her opposition, she could not break through. Every time she attempted to take the upper hand in their clash, Malos would already be there, ready to deny her attempts to challenge his path. Artifice Ophion itself could not stand against the might of the Artifice Gargoyles that her counterpart commanded, even as it took advantage of its position to decimate their ranks more quickly than their assault could ever manage. Here, through her constant inability to push forward, the crusade against her chosen path begins to strain the fleeting stability of her psyche. Met with the immediate brutalization of Ophion, the sinking Artifice is reflected in her eyes as a horror that immobilizes her as though struck by a bolt of lightning, and brings to light a stark clarity regarding the flow of the Aegis War.

    Looking on as Jin is forced to take her place, the reality of her situation stands before her eyes. All of the preparation she could ever muster couldn’t create a miracle that finally fell in line with what she wanted, and all of her efforts to disprove Malos seemed only to serve as a reinforcement of his perspective, providing him with further examples and confirmation of his superiority. This counterproductive advancement steadily chipped away at her mental state. Her mistakes and the emotional isolation she had created for herself were all that she had brought to this conflict, and against a force that took full advantage of what it was given, her lack of resolve was sabotaging her path to victory. Physically, she had only a single Artifice against an army. Emotionally, she had only her own deception and dishonesty towards her ‘friends’, only the shackles of her denial that dragged Addam’s cause down with her.

    “Good show. But I know you’ve got more.
    Let it all out, Mythra. Stop holding out on me!”

    There came a turning point in the conflict between the light and the dark, though it did not come with the knowledge that, Siren to Siren, their two Artifices were equal. This in and of itself would not improve Mythra’s confidence, nor would it alleviate her gradual decline in stability. It came as the circumstances escalated; and it came as the mental exhaustion that Mythra faced grew more and more severe in the face of infernal carnage. On all sides, as the two Aegises clashed through their physical selves and their mechanical servants, a living nightmare was brought to life. Their struggle had brought a stygian flow to the surrounding area; one Artifice would tear the other out of the air, forging their victim into makeshift hammers, battering rams, missiles that crashed into Torna and ravaged everything beneath them, sending twisted machinery and shards of disturbed earth careening across the battlefield in a thundering roar that echoed the horrific screams of Auresco’s citizens.

    If the situation had not taxed her enough already, she was strained further with the additional burden of guilt that came with her apparent failure to live up to her role in the world. Under her watch, bound as she was to the notion that she served in the role of Alrest’s Hope, the once calm and peaceful Torna had been reverted once more into a combative state, the Titan shimmering with the same energy that had once torn Alrest asunder. Caught under a torn sky brewing with flashes of lightning, a struggle for dominance, and the unshackled Tornan Titan glowing with a brilliant shade of orange ether ahead, Mythra was not afforded even the slightest reprieve from the psychological onslaught of violence whirling around the two Aegises. Mythra’s mind was at its breaking point.

    And finally, Malos could bear her resistance to their purpose no longer. The shining blade of his dark Artifice turned towards the Kingdom of Torna’s capital city. The march of ‘their Father’s Will’ was unstoppable. A scarlet ray of light streaks across the flashing sky of ruin above, and it brings her… nothing. No lingering sentiments. No domination of horror and terror. No feelings at all.

    That is, for an instant. For a single infinitesimal moment, time freezes.

    After a beat, her world explodes into immeasurable agony.

    “Can’t do it? I can bring it out of you.”
    “This can’t be real…”

    An endless expanse of cold emptiness, devoid of life and humanity.
    An unfocused gaze, marked by raw, dying eyes that contained unendurable suffering.

    This is all that exists for Mythra, right now.

    The Devastation of Auresco is the desecration of the very essence of her soul. The death of a civilization she had privately grown to admire, of citizens that she had grown to know by name. The death of her role as Alrest’s Hope, their light against the eternal darkness.
    The death of Milton, and of the only pure relationship she had managed to find.
    The death of her oath, her promise.

    For in her eyes, Milton must have fallen along with Mikhail; fallen alongside the Capital.
    Perhaps, along with the Kingdom itself.
    Reduced to ashes.
    Ashes and dust.

    The simple truth of this crashes into a mind that had already been overwhelmed by chaos, and she shatters under the weight of what Malos has done. This is not a wound that could be undone or mitigated, as many of her previous psychological states have been.
    This is an all-encompassing, violent, and uncontrollable mental collapse.

    She leans back, clutching her head in pain as it burns under the torturous memories of what she has lost, her conscious mind torn to shreds. In a way, as this occurs, it is almost as though the Pneuma Core has short circuited; rendering Mythra mentally blank, and operating off of a wild storm of incoherent, contradictory directions. Incapable of processing a circumvention to its focus as a member of the Trinity, only instinct remains within the metaphorical scrap heap that her Core Drive has been reduced to. Operating under this instinct, all pretenses are dropped.

    There are no morals, no restraint, no complex thought that could hinder the effectiveness of her immediate self-weaponization. Mythra’s inner conflict finally decided upon a victor.

    Malos would force her to become the Aegis that she was always meant to be.

    No matter the cost to her mind.

    “W-wait! Mythra! You can’t…”
    “This is…”
    “…A battle between the Aegises…”

    A blank slate came to stand before Malos – an empty canvas over which he could paint the grandeur of their purpose for the world to see. As if to mark this loss of resistance, this loss of willpower and direction, a shadow of the future follows the narrative in this moment. This is the non lyrical version of Drifting Soul – an arrangement that wordlessly conveys an incredible magnitude of depth, and outlines her fluid, hollow, and meaningless purpose in the world.

    When Mythra’s psyche fell into ruin, so too did all that Addam had attempted to instill within her. From the moment of her resonation, the Tornan prince had never been prepared to take on the burdens of guiding an Aegis, and this fact is both visually and physically apparent within moments of her breakdown. Their lack of connection is illustrated through his inability to remain standing when immersed within the electrical storm of her trauma. Mythra’s weapon rejects him, and ultimately, so does she, as her dead gaze struck his heart with nothing but cold emptiness. Though Addam was a kind and caring man, he could never bring himself to close the gap between them, and forge an environment in which she felt comfortable and fulfilled. He screams to Mythra, he pleads to her, he attempts to prevent the inevitable one final time. But there is no connection to latch on to, no deeply faithful bond that can pierce the empty shell before him. The Aegis could no longer hear the call of her Driver’s voice.

    This was no longer mankind standing against divinity. This was not just light against dark or good against evil; it had evolved beyond the values of restraint or the protection of a fundamental concept of peace and harmony. This was now Malos against Mythra, personally. Only two corrupt members of a broken Trinity, and a shattered, vulnerable mind that was under a new, toxic influence.

    Looking beyond the man who could never truly be a supportive Driver to her, Mythra’s mental collapse is the crux of her struggle against the concept that the purpose of the Aegises was to destroy Alrest in its entirety. It is the breaking point of her attempts to choose her own direction as an Aegis, and the moment in which she crosses into Malos’ domain – not because she truly wished to become like him, but because, as with every other aspect of her existence, she never had a choice in the matter. Her life had always been at the mercy of a force, an influence, whatever it may have happened to be at a certain time. It was a cycle, ultimately ending with humanity as the culprit, but nevertheless resulting in a lack of control over who she was. The Old World had forced the Trinity to bend into the role that they wanted for it. Klaus restructured their existence to fit the needs of his New World. That society, Alrest, had forced them into arbitrary roles that only served to harm their mental states and twist them into something that they were never meant to be. Now, as a result of Amalthus’ corruptive will, Malos was beginning to successfully mold her into his ideal vision of an Aegis, and it was destroying her.

    This first instance of Drifting Soul reflects the fluidity of her constantly shifting purpose, and the influence of others on a being that lacked her own true freedom and individuality. The purpose that she had chosen to accept as her own could be invalidated at any time, contradicted by another perspective that seemed more convincing to her severely limited knowledge of the world. This new view would then establish itself as her new baseline, implying a certain meaninglessness to what she thought, what she desired. She was a drifter by nature, afloat in a sea of vulnerability until her existence was taken advantage more by whatever came next in the endless cycle. And now…

    The Cycle of Mortal Influence would force her to experience what it was like to be Malos.

    “That’s it. Perfect. That’s the power that our father gave us!
    It’s what the world has cried for since its birth…
    Me… You… we’re here to give them what they want!”

    The Soaring Rostrum is the climax of the Aegis War.

    Not the end – the individuals involved in the Aegis War will have their loose ends forcefully snapped days from this point; when a malevolent signal, strategically given by the newly appointed Praetor Amalthus after his only opposition is either dead or sealed away, sends an army across Alrestian airspace to exterminate the Tornan remnant at Spessia – but the climax.

    It is not a pleasant or graceful climax; it isn’t the triumphant victory that Mythra was resonated to achieve. Just the opposite, in fact. The Aegis War was never rooted in exultant confidence, never victorious or at ease in its tone. Its orchestrator never intended it to be.

    What was happening in these moments was why the Aegis War had been brought to this point in the first place. It is the reason why Malos chose to intentionally delay the end of the war. The battle at the Soaring Rostrum had always been, from its very inception in the final minutes of the assault on Auresco, Malos’ calculated attempt to control the flow of Mythra’s future.

    The circumstances that had been created were an irresistible bait.
    Their clash took place in an isolated location, with a densely populated and defenseless city to their backs, on a Titan that was dear to the hearts of every individual opposing Malos’ crusade.
    Mythra had been delicately manipulated into viewing this confrontation as her only opportunity to disprove her counterpart’s interpretation of their purpose. And it was constructed as a decisive finale that played out on his terms, where only his destruction would end the war.

    The Soaring Rostrum was the perfect mental trap.
    By fighting at all, Mythra lost.

    Both Aegises are now alone, surrounded only by the cage of suffocating metal that they commanded. The act of war itself pours darkness into Mythra’s heart, deepening the permanent wound to her psyche that limits her perception. And she has no malice towards Torna, no hatred, not the slightest ill will towards the citizens that began to fine-tune her views on humanity. She is only targeting the threat to her well-being. In this case, the Aegis soaring erratically around Torna, goading her into responding with violence.

    Brilliantly gleaming ether collects at the base of her Artifice’s cannon. Crackling energy radiates away from Siren as a primal scream of horror and agony is torn from the depths of her soul. Her weapon swings to face Malos – in front of the vulnerable Titan below.

    In a twisted imitation of her counterpart, Mythra opens fire, and Tornans die.
    All across the Titan. All in the span of a few seconds.
    Tornans die.

    “N-no… You’re wrong… I… Don’t…”

    Mythra stood within her Artifice, suspended in the sky. Motionless.
    Her eyes reflected the blazing horror of the smoking ruin beneath her; the landscape that had been scarred by the very same machine that now locked the culprit within its hellbound depths.
    To prove the legitimacy of their destructive nature, Malos had deliberately avoided
    facing her on an equal plane. The devastation she now faced…
    had been wrought by her hand. Alone.

    She, and no one else, had inadvertently worked to fulfill everything that she stood against.
    And all it had taken was a push in the right direction.

    She could hear herself speak, but the words carried no conviction or confidence.
    They were false, just as her supposed values were.

    “Really? Then I’ll just have to claim… all the destruction for myself!”

    Malos’ words were brutal and unforgiving. But they were true.
    Even if Mythra stopped now, renounced her participation in this war, it would not matter.
    It would make no difference. Fate would take its natural course. The Aegises were a pair of Endbringers, after all. Her partner would pick up where she left off.

    “…Save me…”

    Malos was suffocating her; mentally torturing her with an iron grip of traumatizing reality. Hopelessness ruthlessly strangled her soul.

    Her tattered heart could withstand no more.

    For the first time, tears began to fall freely.
    But no one was there to comfort her.
    No one was there to support her.
    She had betrayed them all.

    Her eyes burned with a vision of what could be. The flashing images made little sense, but they didn’t need to. She could feel the distant sense of love and support echoing from the flow of the future all the same. It was something pure, something that she, as an Aegis, did not deserve. And it was something she desperately needed as the depths of her despair cut off her control over her own body. Her head rang with a silent scream as Artifice Siren followed the only order that was still in effect from its now inactive operator. The threat still existed. The Pneuma Core would eliminate it, with or without its manifestation.
    Even if it betrayed everything that it was built for.

    Mythra, shackled within her own mind like a spectator to the apocalypse, wished she had the strength to regain control over herself – only so that she could tear her own eyes out of her skull. But even blind, she would see what came next forever.

    She would see herself, Alrest’s Hope…
    indiscriminately slaughter everything and everyone on the Titan below.
    Her companions.
    The citizens of Torna.
    The Tornan Titan itself.

    Her transgressions against Alrest burned themselves into her mind.

    Then, her world was blasted into darkness.

    Hello, I’m Caleb! I’ve been invested in the gaming industry for as long as I’ve been aware of its existence. I have a passion for writing, analysis, and content creation in general, and have spent the past few years focusing my efforts on the games that I’ve come to care for the most. I’m primarily a Nintendo/PlayStation kind of person, but I play PC games whenever I find one that my setup is able to handle. My two favorite franchises are the Xeno Anthology and SciADV – and as an extension, I have a significant preference for both the JRPG and Visual Novel Genres. Additionally, I’m fond of Action-Adventure, Platformers, a variety of Indie titles, the odd shooter, and others. Writing about the industry, in general, is my next step forward as a writer in diversifying how I cover my interests.

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