At Journey’s End
“My role is ended. Blaze the way to the future by yourselves.”
In the last chapter of the story, the group races Zieg, who is dead set on destroying the world in the name of the creator Soa. The Divine Moon Objects that he has gathered serve the purpose of shattering the remaining Signet Sphere, magic devices by the Winglies that are the last barrier between the Moon Child and the Moon That Never Sets. Three more times does the group cross paths with him before the final confrontation — in Aglis, in Zenebatos and in Mayfil — and three times they fail to prevent the destruction of the Signets.
Still, Rose seems to has an inkling as she says, without elaborating:
“He is not Zieg.” Now, what does that mean? It can be ruled out that the Zieg they’re chasing is an illusion or a doppelgänger, considering he does kill Lloyd, abduct Shana and destroy the Signets himself, not to mention the way he addressed Rose and Dart directly and in full awareness of what he’s doing. An option to consider: What if Rose did, on some level, accept that they are now facing the person called Zieg indeed — the person she once knew, once loved (perhaps still loves) — and resolved to reject the person he has become? After all, if it’s the destruction of the world that he seeks, what once connected them even across the distance of 11,000 years would be no more — her Zieg would be no more. The game’s theme song, however, firmly rejects that notion. Though the possibilities of brainwashing or possession are not entertained at the time, Rose’s intuition and faith clearly say: The Zieg I know cannot possibly be acting this way of his own free will.
Either way, the fact that her former betrothed and comrade is the mastermind behind it all won’t stand in the way of what she must do to save the world one last time.
Dart: Is this the Moon That Never Sets!?
Rose: Yes. It has been long. Very… Let’s get going.
One Last Truth
Once all Signets have been destroyed, the only option left to save both the world as well as Shana is the destruction of the moon’s core itself, before it is reunited with the god’s soul resting in Shana. On The Moon That Never Sets, the group faces Zieg in battle. The conversation before the start of the battle is the reason I believe Rose as well as Dart have come to terms with the fact that they are truly fighting someone who was once dear to them, but who they no longer know. The possibility of external or internal manipulation never comes up.
Rose: Zieg!! You don’t deserve to use spirits!!
Zieg: You say it even after this?
Rose: Oh no, the Red-Eye Dragon still recognizes you!?
Zieg: This is the truth. And the annihilation of the world that is about to occur is the truth as well!!
Dart: Dad, stop it. The power is… not generated for that!!
As you can see, Rose and Dart still address the person in front of them as “Zieg” and “Dad” respectively. And to their immense surprise, Zieg snatches Dart’s Dragoon Spirit and takes on the form of the hero of old: Zieg, the Red-Eye Dragoon. (This scene and battle are also the reason for the theories out there that Dart merely borrowed his father’s powers as the Red-Eye Dragoon, and that he may have never been fully acknowledged by it himself.)
When Zieg is defeated, it is finally time for one last revelation. Zieg’s body collapses, discarded by the true villain behind it all: none other than Melbu Frahma himself, the former leader of the Winglies thought to have been defeated by Zieg. The spectre in front of the group is his very soul, and he explains to them that what died back during the Dragon Campaign was merely his flesh. The petrification spell he cast on Zieg served to transmigrate his soul into Zieg’s body, as the soul itself is immortal. When the reawakened Zieg tried to release the power of the Dragoon during the assault of Neet eighteen years ago, that power revived Melbu and set the gears in motion for his ultimate plan: the acquisition of an eternal body for an immortal soul, to become God himself.
Before the fusion between Shana and the moon’s core is completed, Melbu takes Shana’s place so as to merge with the Virage Embryo and bring destruction upon the world himself. Suddenly, Lloyd (who evidently survived the blow dealt to him at the end of the previous disc) enters the scene and attempts to bring Melbu down. He fails and forsakes his life, but not before entrusting Dart with the Dragoon Spirit of the Divine Dragon, the mightiest Dragon of all, and Rose with the Dragon Buster, the ancient Wingly weapon capable of bringing down even Dragons and Dragoons.
While everyone is mentally bracing themselves for the final confrontation, Rose watches over the unconscious Zieg. Dart speaks to each of his comrades, and each of them has something to say about what they’ve learned while walking next to him and what they now must do: for the world, for Shana and for themselves. In contrast, it’s quite telling of Rose and Dart’s relationship and the level of mutual understanding and sense of connection they have reached that when he speaks to her, this is all that needs to be said:
Dart: Rose, are you ready?
Rose: Yes. Any time.
Peace at Last
After a long battle, Dart calls upon the power of the Divine Dragoon Spirit and vanquishes Melbu. In the chaos and explosions that ensue, Dart rushes to Shana’s side, while Rose’s wings take her to the still weakened Zieg, who has now regained his consciousness.
Rose: I have been waiting for this moment.
Zieg: I kept you… waiting so long. I’m… sorry.
Rose tenderly gazes at the man she finally recognizes, and a faint smile steals itself onto her lips. As Melbu recovers and rises even bigger and stronger than before, Rose watches on, Zieg resting in her arms.
Zieg: Rose, the time has come. This is the end of our long journey.
Zieg: Could you… come with me?
Rose: Yes. I will never leave you again.
I think what leaves such a big impression about the ending is that Rose and Zieg don’t catch up with each other; there is no need for condemnation or forgiveness. On the one hand, they’ve both caught enough of a glimpse of what the other has been doing during their time apart. What “matters” is not that Zieg found — was able to find — new family and that it was his body Melbu used to carry out all those deeds. What matters is that Zieg woke up in a foreign time deserted of everything and everyone he had once known and found the strength to live on, and when the time came and the peace he found was threatened, he called upon his Dragoon Spirit to protect all of it. In the same vein, what “matters” are not the deaths Rose has stained her hands with — had to stain her hands with, and of free will — and that she lost so much in the process. What matters is that Rose continued fighting no matter what, willing to save the world at any cost even if she had to fight Zieg. Even without words, the two were able to see that in each other — again.
On the other hand, although the ending FMV plays out very slowly, there isn’t all that much time to talk. But the two of them have fought enough battles together and on their own that they know what must be done. As Dart is still dodging the attacks Melbu’s ultimate form is hurling at him, Zieg and Rose, side by side, tightly holding on to each other, soar past and say their farewells:
“Dart, you have grown up! I couldn’t do anything for you as a father. Please forgive me.” and
“Dart, I’m so glad I met you!” Despite Dart’s protests, they fly straight into Melbu and take him down in a kamikaze attack, causing the entire moon to fall apart.
As rocks upon rocks threaten to bury everything beneath them, the new Dragoons make it out safely, with the echo of Rose and Zieg’s final words as their guide:
Rose: My role is ended. Blaze the way to the future by yourselves.
Zieg: This is your age to live, to shine.
Dart: What are you talking about? We can all live together!
Rose: We were never meant to exist in this age. My age ended in remote antiquity. Farewell, Dart, and thank you!
Rose and Zieg die side by side as the heroes they once were and have always been, giving their life to protect the world so dear to them. But more importantly, they do so together, locked in embrace, and they do so one final time after having devoted their life to the cause for far longer than they could have ever imagined. Home does not need to be a place or a time when you are able to find and rediscover it in each other.
To Dart, these deaths mean losing a dear comrade connected by an irreplaceable experience and bond, as well as the father whose history he will never hear first-hand. But for Rose (and Zieg), it means finding long-deserved and long-awaited rest at last. Rose has gone through so much to arrive at that moment, and the last part of her journey is what allows her to give her life and pass away peacefully: With the help of her new comrades, Rose has found herself again, is able to laugh again; she was able to save the man who has made the most impact to her in the present, in place of the man she regretted letting go of in the past; she has emotionally, not just rationally, come to terms with what she has done; she has faced the souls of the dead at Mayfil and accepted that there are many that will never forgive her, but that there is someone who has been fighting at her side who does grant her that forgiveness; she has told those souls as well as her comrades who went ahead that she’ll be with them soon after giving each of them peace. To Rose, death is the natural ending that she has had to put off for much longer than any existence, let alone a Human, should have.
Rose stays true to her beliefs, her role and her mission until the very end, but during that last part, she no longer has to fight alone, and that’s the most important thing there is.
When Rose says
“My role is ended.”, that is all there is to it: relief.
The epilogue shows a bird of purple and white colours flying from place to place across all of Endiness’ regions as each member of the group resumes their life in the future that they fought for and that has been given to them. They know better than anyone what it means to live in the present and to cherish it. Eventually, the bird flies over the water-filled crater far apart from civilization — presumably the remainder of the Moon That Never Sets or the place where it crashed down. The bird lands on a branch of what once was the Divine Tree, settling down next to another of its kind, a bird of red and white colours. The camera pans down to reveal two Dragoon Spirits buried next to each other, purple and red, and the words
“The End” appear, enveloped by the gentle sound of flowing water.
The interpretation of the coloured birds is left to the player. Some say that those birds are Rose and Zieg reborn, with Rose flying all over the continent to see how her comrades are doing and to watch over them. Personally, I’d like to believe that those birds are their spirit — but not their souls reborn — as they have one last look at the future they’ve created and entrusted to the people, and the people (Dart in particular) who they care about. I’d like to think that, aside from the incorporeal things they’ve left behind, the two Dragoon Spirits that make up the ending screen are all that remain of Rose and Zieg. They have found peace at last, next to each other, their consciousness no longer clinging to an age where they do not belong. And around their final resting place, life continues to thrive.