Bravely Default: The Crystal Orthodoxy (Lore Analysis)
Wind. Water. Fire. Earth. The four crystals of Luxendarc maintain these vital elements of nature, keeping the world in harmony. There was always a faith surrounding these mystical objects, but this faith was twisted and became more about power than worship. The story of this corrupt order, and the two immortal souls who brought it all down, hides in the background of Bravely Default, and spans over the course of twenty four hundred years.
The Origin of Crystalism
Before getting into the events surrounding this intricate history, it’s important to establish the original faith to the crystals, as some of the terms are very similar. Crystal worship, also called Crystalism or Crystal Adventism, was the first form of religion formed around the crystals. The worship eventually began once people realized that it was the crystals that kept the world in balance.
The idea behind Crystal Adventism was that the crystals were divine, and should be treated as such. Each crystal was more or less under the control of individual groups, governed generally by local kings or the temples themselves, each praying endlessly to their god figure, believing that their prayers helped keep nature in balance.
At some point, a few Crystal Adventists came up with the concept of a united religion across Luxendarc, organized and placed under the control of the clergy. This was the beginning of the Crystal Orthodoxy, a name used to describe both the group and the new centralized religion that spawned from said group.
The Crystal Orthodoxy
Though there are little to no theological differences between Crystal Adventism and Crystal Orthodoxy, besides the installation of the vestals, maidens who were connected to and essentially wed to the crystals, there were major economic changes, specifically the action of converting Luxendarc’s economy to be based on this new religion. Once control was established, the Orthodoxy slowing brushed away any traces of Adventism, until it was simply referred to as “the old faith”.
The Rise of the Vampire
It was at this time that a vote was being taken for the first Grand Patriarch of the Orthodoxy. One cardinal at the time, however, refused to vote. This young man was Lester DeRosso, a former clergyman of the Crystal Adventists, and born of the DeRosso household. The DeRosso House was, at the time, a family of dukes in the former Kingdom of Eternia, and owned a castle in the country’s north western region.
DeRosso had refused to vote as the Grand Patriarch he had been bribed to vote for had orchestrated a plan to eliminate the Kingdom of Eternia, effectively giving the Orthodoxy full control over the Earth Crystal. Because of this, DeRosso was forced from his position in the Orthodoxy. Shortly after, the church spread a false rumour that the king of Eternia planned to revolt against them by bringing about a violent return of Crystal Adventism.
The Orthodoxy began to take terrible actions following the start of this lie. DeRosso’s father was slain, and their castle’s water supply was poisoned in an attempt to kill the rest of the family. DeRosso was forced to give up his own mother in exchange for the lives of his people. Alas, an archbishop responsible for the Grand Patriarch getting into power was the leader of the siege on his family home, and killed Lillia simply out of hatred for DeRosso. The lord and his people holed up inside the castle, but slowly began to die from starvation, until only Lester remained.
It was at this time that he set the castle ablaze, with him trapped inside. However, in a moment of clarity, as he began to wonder if death truly was what he wished for, a voice called out to him with an infamous line: “Accept me, and I shall grant life everlasting. Though it shall be filled with misery, thou shalt have all eternity to wreak vengeance upon thine enemies.”
DeRosso accepted the voice’s offer, becoming immortal, and left the burning castle. When the Orthodoxy could not find his body among the ashes, they deemed him and the whole DeRosso family as vampires, demonizing him and creating an enemy to focus their hatred on, and as they controlled the crystal, the people’s point of worship, they also controlled their opinion.
Though it was a lie, Lord DeRosso embraced the rumour, dawning particular attire and killing his foes from the shadows, making the rumour spread and become a half-truth. While the Orthodoxy claimed the first Patriarch died peacefully while crowning the second, it was but another lie to conceal the fact that DeRosso himself had assassinated both the Patriarch and the archbishop that had led the attack on his family. Over this time, DeRosso also collect a following of others who despised the Orthodoxy as well.
Five hundred years passed, and the Orthodoxy’s power had begun to fade with the evolution of technology and science. They decided to begin ruling by fear, hunting down anyone they deemed an enemy of the church, and looked to hire someone strong enough to fight Lord DeRosso. Sage Yulyana was made High Inquisitor of the Crystal Orthodoxy, and was instructed to go to war against their archenemy. The two fought endlessly across Luxendarc, reshaping the very land where they fought in the process.
And then, during one final battle at the Norende Heights eighteen hundred years ago, their fates were changed. Amidst the battle, an angel appeared to them on the brink of death, bearing the face of Anges Oblige, a future Wind Vestal. It is strongly suggested that this was the Anges of an alternate Luxendarc.
Sage and DeRosso ceased their fighting to tend to the maiden, but there was no chance of saving her. Before she passed, she revealed multiple major events that were yet to come, the most important being the arrival of “an evil one” who would manipulate its allies into awakening the four Crystals to pierce the boundary between worlds. This would bring about an event known as The Harrowing, and the advent of “the bringer of ruin”.
With her last breath, she revealed the one way to defeat the bringer of ruin should it arrive. Sage and DeRosso made an immediate truce, and after speaking for three days and nights, decided to join forces to prepare Luxendarc against the impending doom the angel spoke of.
The Remedy and The Asterisks
They also decided to cleanse the Crystal Orthodoxy of its corruption along the way. The first step was to announce Sage as the winner of the battle. This would allow for DeRosso to fake his death and work from the shadows, and allow Sage to climb the ranks of the Orthodoxy to archbishop. Next, Sage extended his already aged existence through various spells and mystic rites, allowing him to survive longer than expected by members of the church.
As DeRosso returned to the site of his family home to build Frostcoffin Castle (or as it would come to be known, Vampire Castle), Sage began to work his magic on the Orthodoxy. His main task was to separate any vestlings and clean followers from the corrupted ones. After 1700 years, the first event of the angel’s prophecy came to be: the rising of the highlands, separating Eternia from the rest of the world.
This was the sign for them to begin the next stage of their plan: to reveal the corruption of the Orthodoxy. This would be done by showing the truth behind the granting of vocations. Before, changing one's job or vocation had to be approved by the Orthodoxy, but large bribes known as “alms” were accepted behind closed doors.
Sage planned to cripple this corrupt method by introducing the asterisk as a replacement for granting vocations, grabbing their attention with the concept that people would simply apply for a vocation and pay a fair rate to change to the requested job. Greed filling their hearts and thoughts of pg prompted the Orthodoxy to accept his proposal. There was just one thing they’d forgotten: Sage was the only one who knew how to make the asterisks.
Once he saw his control over the system become thorough, Sage took off from Eternia and hid in Yulyana Woods, taking with him any way the Orthodoxy could make profits off the asterisks, since the money went through Sage before them. From there, he waited until all who knew him were dead, either on their own or by DeRosso’s hand. Here, he took up tailoring and mentored the Fire, Water, and Wind Vestals, while they awaited the next event as predicted by the angel.
Soon enough, it came: the Great Plague, returning from the past as a result of the arrogance of the Orthodoxy and Griede Geneolgia. The Orthodoxy’s colours shined brightest during this time, using the people of what is now Gravemark Village to protect Gathlatio and their headquarters.
An outraged Braev Lee, a cleric of the church at the time, left the Orthodoxy in disgust, but is recruited by the two immortals soon after as part of a plan to reclaim all four of the Crystals at once. After teaching Braev about the Harrowing and the events that herald its coming, they began a campaign to spread the ideology of Anticrystalism throughout Luxendarc, to bring people into their cause against the Crystal Orthodoxy.
Their reputation deteriorating even more, the Orthodoxy decided to make one last attempt at redemption: the Grand Ritual, in which they would overload the Earth Crystal with so much power, it would destroy the world. Braev caught wind of the Orthodoxy’s plan, and abandoned the original plan, taking their legion to Eternia immediately.
Braev and the troops stormed the Earth Temple, and a fight broke out between the Templar and the Orthodoxy. In the end, Braev’s side had won. But with the death of the Earth Vestal and the crystal leaking power, something had to be done. Thus, white magic cables were hooked up to the crystal, and were used in a new treatment facility for the ill, a reminder that the Plague was still prevalent during this time.
Nonetheless, the Orthodoxy was driven out of their headquarters and back to Gathelatio, and the Crystalguard was disbanded at this time. With the removal of their military power, the Crystal Orthodoxy had lost a vast majority of its power. Their former headquarters became Eternian Central Command, with Braev as the newly crowned Grand Marshall of the Duchy of Eternia. He implemented the Council of Six, bringing Sage and DeRosso on board with him. The power of Anticrystalism had risen, and Crystalism was labeled as heresy, with the vestals scattered across Luxendarc still following their beliefs, while blind to the truth of their former leadership.
Braev used Anticrystalism to gain control of the remaining crystals. The main idea behind Anticrystalism was the concept that the crystals were not objects of worship, as the Orthodoxy had claimed, but rather tools for mankind to make use of. The vast majority of Anticrystalism support originated from Eternia, and spread across the globe in time. One of the earlier attempts at this was in Florem, where the Bloodrose Legion infiltrated the local population and drove the Water Vestal into hiding.
A somewhat similar situation occurred in Anchiem, involving the oppression of the people through the Khamer and Profiteur Merchantry. In the Eisenberg region, the Duchy’s Black Blades instigated citizens who believed in Anticrystalism to rebellion, turning them against their crystal worshipping brethren as the Swordbearers, and beginning a civil war, during which the Fire Vestal was assassinated, blocking access to the Fire Crystal. The Duchy had effectively gained control over the Crystals, and the Crystal Orthodoxy was virtually powerless.
The Warriors of Light
Fifteen years after the establishment of the Duchy, the Great Chasm swallowed Norende whole, and the crystals were shrouded in darkness: the next event foretold by the angel. DeRosso and Sage helped the Warriors of Light, as they travelled across Luxendarc and between worlds to awaken the crystals, an errand they falsely believed to be righteous, when in actuality, was only bringing them closer to ruin.
Yulyana played the role of their mentor; he helped Anges repair her vestal garb, and broke them out of Eternian Central Command’s dungeon after DeRosso’s interference. Over the myriad worlds, he was a reliable source of information, warning them of what was to come, but letting them make their own decisions. All of this was to bring about the advent of Lord Ouroboros, so that they may slay him.
The Warriors of Light continued awakening the crystals, piercing the world boundaries with the Holy Pillar and moving on to the next one only to repeat the process. Once enough worlds had been linked, Airy, the evil one, revealed her deception and attempted to slaughter the party. In one instance, the party caught on to her early, and Anges shattered a crystal, slowing Airy’s progress for some time. But in the main timeline, Airy is defeated by the Warriors, even when given perfect form by Ouroboros, the aforementioned bringer of ruin.
Then, during the battle against Ouroboros, Lord DeRosso appeared. He had come to perform the task the angel had spoke of, one that he and Sage had argued over for 1800 tedious years. DeRosso was to fuse with Ouroboro’s core, halting his infinite regeneration by sacrificing his own immortality. Before committing however, Lester spoke one final line, the same words spoken to him in the burning castle all those years ago. The voice had been him at this point in time, and had become a continuity loop to pass on his power to his past self. With Lord DeRosso’s sacrifice, as well as the assistance of their other selves in various worlds, the group was finally able to defeat the God of Destruction.
After these events, Anges became Pope of the Crystal Orthodoxy, in an attempt to rebuild it the way it was supposed to be, and had even managed to get Eternia to sign to a peace treaty. However, this was briefly interrupted by the rise of the Glanz Empire. Sage’s end was met upon coming to blows with the Ba’al Diamante, which he sealed within the large diamond known as the Skyhold a year before the events of Bravely Second, before passing on. As for Anges, she resigned from her position as pope after the peace treaty was made official, and decided to retire to the countryside under a new name… Anges Arrior.
And with this, the last traces of war were brought to an end… for now. With a recent uprising against the peace treaty between Eternia and the New Orthodoxy, this may only be another chapter in a never-ending struggle.