Thaw and Change

“You are starting to regain a sense of time, aren’t you? No, not only that. You have recovered a lot of other things too.”

Rose’s journey may not involve finding the courage to make the right decisions or realizing the error of her ways (as is the case for several party members), and it isn’t even about turning into someone else or becoming a better person. However, it, too, is ultimately about change. What’s special about Rose’s development is that so much of it is about recovery — recovering what once made up who Rose was as a person before those 11,000 years happened, before time and sacrifice claimed her mind and slowly eroded her Human heart.

By travelling with the group and being pulled along by Dart’s drive, Rose goes from being a very cold and seemingly apathetic — and pretty much emotionally dead — person to someone who can joke, be concerned, care, love, and take initiative again. It may take two entire discs, but Rose eventually regains her ability to feel and to laugh, and she learns to live again, to be human again.

At the end of Disc 2 when Tiberoa’s king is about to throw a party in honour of the nation’s heroes, it’s quite beautiful how Rose loiters in the guest room by herself before the celebrations start. It’s the same guest room where the party stayed the night before, and where Haschel called Rose out on her harshness, prompting her to admit that she doesn’t remember how to smile. This time, her words are a throwback to that scene, but their message is quite the opposite:

Rose: [I am… a hero… He would laugh at me…] *Chuckle*… […!? I… laughed now… …I did laugh…]
She takes off her choker to look at it.
Rose: [Since I have started to wear this choker… I have not laughed… for years…] *Chuckle*… [It was worth the wait…]
Dart enters the room.
Dart: Oh, you are here. I’m here to tell you that the party is starting.
Rose: It’ll be a fun party.
Disc 2: Twin Castle at Fletz

Rose expresses disbelief and surprise at this development by shaking her head twice in this scene, but it’s evident that she is nonetheless pleased about this. Rose has gone through so much pain and loneliness for so long to make it to the present, where she finds herself as part of a group that “reawakens the old her”, as Shirley puts it, by reminding her of who she was when she fought at the side of her former comrades. The current Rose may no longer be the person she once was — not after the war, not after having been the Black Monster — but she has to realize that she, too, deserves to take a break, to laugh and to find comfort in other people. “It’ll be a fun party.” means so much here because the Rose at the start of the game would have called the celebrations a waste of time, fail to show any enthusiasm, and perhaps even tell the group to hurry up and be done.

A lot of Rose’s emotional development has already been addressed under The Comrade: with Dart, who forgives her and continuously reminds her of what’s important; with Shana, who learns to understand Rose, who sees the woman behind the seemingly cold words and defends her; and even Miranda, who slaps Rose (partly) to make her understand that she has comrades at her side now and does not need to fight alone anymore. Aside from Lavitz, the two party members not mentioned in that section are the two Rose has the least interactions with, and that are most neglected in the story: Albert and Kongol. Nevertheless, both of them also have scenes that very effectively convey the change Rose has gone through.

Comrades who Walk Together

Firstly, what may surprise the player at the start of Disc 2 is how Rose repeatedly comments on Albert’s tendency to ramble on and on about things that have picked his intellectual interest. She does so not even necessarily in an impatient way, but like someone teasingly drawing attention to a companion’s eccentric mannerisms (“I guess they really will talk until morning.”). Shortly afterwards also marks one of the rare times Rose seems to strike up a conversation on her own accord, and again it is to tease Albert: “In any case, the king is getting along with a motley crew like us.” She further indulges him on the Queen Fury while he is writing love poems. All of this combined makes me wonder whether it is Albert’s gentle nature helps Rose recover. Perhaps this effect is not just owed to his natural comportment around the group despite his status as Serdio’s king, but also to his striking resemblance to the late Jade Dragoon, Syuveil, which would explain why Rose seems to hold some affection for him.

Albert certainly has a way with words, and is among the members in the group who reach out to others in the most considerate and gentlest of ways, as is seen when Kongol asks him what friends are:

Albert: Maybe we can put it this way. Maybe “friends” are the people who walk the same road. People who walk together, but not led by somebody, who share happiness and pain.
Kongol: That is friends…?
Albert: Yes. That is us now. Although we have different objectives, we are walking side by side. Kongol. You are already walking the same road as us.
Disc 2: The Queen Fury

It’s consistent with his character: Later on Disc 4, the tension between Rose and the — already shaken — group (between Rose and Miranda in particular) threatens its harmony, with Miranda being unable to throw anything at Rose other than words of anger. That is when Albert steps forward to say:

Rose, nobody can understand the weight of fate you have carried. But we can at least lighten the burden for you.
Disc 4: Oasis within Death Frontier

And with those words, he speaks for the rest of the group. The visible encouragement and support Rose receives from both Albert and Dart manage to calm her somewhat, allowing for her to continue. I think it really speaks for Albert’s capacity of empathy that he doesn’t assume to understand Rose’s suffering, but reaches out to her anyway, and politely asks her to confide in the group.

Inspiring Faith

Secondly, and surprisingly, Kongol, who almost never gets to be part of the conversations the party has as a whole, and who speaks very little, faces an illusion of Rose during Savan’s trials:

Rose (illusion): It seems like it’s just us. Why don’t we fight for starters? Are you scared just because you lost many times? Or is the cheap pride of a Giganto stopping you?
Kongol: Kongol and Rose changed. Rose doesn’t say such things. You are not Rose.
Disc 4: Magical City Aglis

It’s surprising that Rose shows up in Kongol’s trial of all people, that she is used to giving him the impression of an enemy he must strike down, and that Kongol, usually so quiet and reserved (but observant!), acknowledges not just Rose’s change, but sees similarities between himself and Rose. Kongol and Rose have faced each other in battle twice in early parts of the game. While Kongol fought for the enemy, Rose had no second thoughts about cutting him down with a kill or be killed attitude. I assume that “Rose changed” does not just refer to her no longer being his enemy — he knows that Rose has also become more gentle, more forthcoming. And, most of all, Rose has become a comrade.

Rose’s change did not “just” happen. It happened because she has had these comrades with her, because she decided to join their journey on a whim. Rose knows that, and even if she isn’t good at showing her appreciation openly (whether that truly is her personality, or because the grasp that those 11,000 years have on her doesn’t fade so easily, or both), the group clearly means a lot to her, and the time she has spent with all of them is an invaluable gift. In the end, although it has taken a long time to open up to the group about her past and her reasons, and despite the shocking revelations Zieg dropped on them, by the last part of the journey, Rose does regain her strength to fight not alone, but by the side of the people who have become dear to her:

Rose: Let’s go. Either to destroy the Virage Embryo… or to fight against Zieg. I need everybody with me.
Dart: Rose…
Rose: Don’t be so shocked. I trust everybody, too.
Disc 4: The Moon That Never Sets