This theory was submitted by Marx-93 from the XSEED Forums on 4/10/2017:
This whole theory is hidden behind the cut.
This theory it’s about our favourite Chancellor, Osborne. Based on a long-time revelation from Ao, a pattern that showed up in Cold Steel II and the new information coming from Sen III, the crux is that Osborne might have again set up an important future event that was supposed to bring out his downfall. The liberation of Crossbell would then be a diplomatic move by our Chancellor in order to ensure he gets North Ambria, which was always a nation the Church has seemed oddly protective of. This would also imply that Osborne likely has the Church pegged as one of his main enemies, maybe on the same level as Ouroboros.
So, Sen III is approaching, and every news revealed sends the collective fandom in a flurry of theories, some even crazier than usual. Yet, despite this fandom also being used to knowing very little, we do know something, and that is that Crossbell will be liberated come 1207. Something similar happened with Sen II and the eventual Osborne victory and survival (which were revealed in Ao too). However, I think it’s not an exaggeration to say that a lot of us were still taken back by what happened at the end; effectively using what we expected as a twist (Osborne’s survival) to mask another twist (Osborne’s movements against the Society and his relation with Rean). This theory is based on the idea that it makes no sense to reveal something as important as Crossbell’s liberation without it being used to hide something else. So, let me tell you about (what might be) Osborne’s plan for this 1207: Let’s look at the Liberation of Crossbell, a farce scripted by our beloved Chancellor with the Septian Church as its (unwilling) leading actor and everyone else as confused onlookers .
We know Crossbell is liberated in 1207. Nonetheless, Sen III starts in the midst of 1206 (concretely in spring), and we don’t see any sign of that upcoming liberation in the air. Even if the war is coming, 6 months seems a bit short to decide the fate of something that the last time took literally hundreds of years to settle. Yes, the Erebonian Civil War was very short, but that was set up from the beginning. The Hundred Days war meanwhile ended in an armistice with a return to the status quo and no territory exchange. A true war between Calvard and Erebonia in which there is a real exchange of lands and net gains or losses would take some years, until one of them can’t continue. Especially as of now, that Erebonia’s position in the continent seems to be so dominant. A combination of internal problems and an international coalition would be needed in order to take the city by military means. And then, even if Erebonia was forced to abandon the city early on, it’s likely they would counterattack and transform Crossbell into a frontline (especially with Garrelia gone). Yet from the way the liberation is described, it doesn’t seem like Crossbell has just been freed to become Calvard’s new fortress against the Empire, and devastated in a long and merciless war.
So, my conclusion is that just like the other conflict that ended prematurely, the Crosbell occupation is also set up. Let’s go step by step:
1. The occupation of North Ambria: North Ambria is a desolate land. After the Disaster, the civil order broke down and the previously prosperous country was engulfed in chaos. Does that definition remind you of something? Yes, it’s almost the same as what happened to Jurai, except (fortunately for them) Jurai’s problems were much lower key. The Salt Pale predates Osborne by a lot, however it does seem strange that Osborne didn’t use the same excuse he used for Jurai to annex North Ambria entirely. Its position, to the north of Erebonia with its other neighbor being Remiferia it’s also pretty good: close to Erebonia, and of difficult access from Calvard. This lack of an invasion it’s especially noticeable given that North Ambria did have an Archduke, one that ran away from the country once the disaster hit and was then overthrown. Now, while Osborne doesn’t like nobles, he has no problems working with them (as Rufus or the same Emperor can attest) and when dealing with nobility even Osborne at its worst it’s better than Calvard as its best. Why didn’t Osborne annex North Ambria using the return of the rightful ruler, the archduke, as its excuse? The promise of Erebonian capital to help the reconstruction (together with important bribes) could have likely forced the parliamentary government to concede, just like it happened with Jurai. Or at least make it a protectorate of Erebonia, which wouldn’t be hard considering its geographical location. Why he didn’t do this? A first possibility could be that North Ambria wasn’t worth it, but then Sen III reveals that he later annexed it by force. So then, why, and why at this moment when every other nation of Zemuria doesn’t really need any more reasons to hate Osborne?
2. The Septian Church: After expulsing the Archduke, the parliament of North Ambria was explicitly recognized as a state by Arteria. Not Calvard, closer, stronger and the champion of liberalism. The church, for whatever reason, has a strong interest in North Ambria even if they don’t mingle much with other worldly affairs. The fact that all of this (expulsing the Archduke, creating a new democracy) also happened after the Septian Church transported the Salt Pale to Arteria only makes this connection stronger. Why would the Church care so much for a desperate country after they already took out of it the Artifact they were interested in? An argument can be made for it simply being basic decency on the Church’s part, but the fact that after 25 years North Ambria is still thought of as a dependency of Arteria points to a tighter relation. Everything points to the Septian Church having (or knowing of) something hidden in North Ambria, and doing what it can to ensure it remains so. This would also likely be the reason why Osborne didn’t take advantage of North Ambria before, but waited until the Continent was plunged in chaos. When the diplomatic strength of the Church became weaker due to the state of quasi-war and chaos throughout the continent, he swept in and took the country.
3. Osborne’s plan: So, this brings us to the liberation of Crossbell. Why and how? The answer is as a diplomatic move by Osborne to ensure he gets North Ambria. In exchange of Crosbell’s independence, he’ll ask the other nations to accept the annexation of North Ambria to Erebonia. Liberl, Calvard and even Remiferia will likely accept, Crosbell being simply of major strategic, economic and political importance. They might even think the annexation of North Ambria could be for the better, with Erebonia bringing order and capital to reconstruct the country. In any case, it would be a small price to pay for lasting peace (or in the case of Calvard, a weaker Erebonia). That, however, would put the Church on the spot; if they refuse, not only would it look very bad for an organization supposed to promote peace and diplomacy, but it would also reveal they are hiding something in North Ambria. Overall, it would just make too much sense that, like how Cold Steel II played with the fact that we knew how everything ended yet still threw a curve-ball at the end, Cold Steel III would do the same.
So, now what could this tell us about Osborne? Why would he want to antagonize the Church?
If he only cared about political power, then dealing with Calvard would be the main path to, well, Zemurian domination. While invading North Ambria could be a stepping stone towards that, it doesn’t seem like the devastated nation will give much strength to Erebonia, and the movement might antagonize all the other remaining small nations, which had been cautiously neutral during the whole fight for Crossbell. If Osborne’s fight against Ouroboros was only in self-defence, then risking the wrath of the Church, the only organization able to fight it as their equal, would be too dangerous.
With this I’ll now piggyback on floofy’s theory about the relation between the Septian Church, the Grailsritter and Ouroboros. (you can read it here.) Osborne might know of such connection. Thus, his motivation can be to rid Zemuria of such ancient conspiracies and obscure traditions. For him Ourobors, the Gralsritter and the Church would be the same: hermetic and ancient organizations with nebulous objectives and enormous secretism but no problem with toying with the lives of the common man and causing mayhem in the Continent. After all, aren’t in the end stigmas, artifacts and other mystical powers a way to lift a man beyond the level of the rest of the population and society? What does a crowd protesting or a nation mean to someone with an artifact able to obliterate half a city, or Divergent Laws capable of outright ignoring physical laws? Ouroboros, despite the good(?) intentions of some of their members, has left amply clear that it doesn’t abide by any kind of international law or authority. The Church, while at least it tries, does still have a number of agents undercover with a frightening amount of destructive power, and an almost absurd amount of secretism. It will probably be hard for any political idealist to tolerate such existences in their perfect world.
Such motive would also make his alignment clearer in the overall scheme of the series. It could also be a single cog of a more complex motivation (Osborne was after all a man of the military before moving on to politics, and there’s the whole Hamel Incident) but I feel his overall reasoning might not be too far off from it. Now, how he even plans to start fighting against them I don’t know. In normal terms it would be impossible, so he must have some kind of plan.
However, if this is true and he really plans to take on both the Septian Church and Ouroboros… Let’s just say the resulting fireworks will be worth watching.