Okay, so since this is going to get deep into plot stuff, and since Brooke is still way back at the beginning of the hakou stuff (we just watched Conrad’s Arm the other day), I’m going to hide all my discussion with white text. Highlight to read:
Lots of weird stuff has happened in the latest episodes. Someone appeared out of the dust and started to cause all sorts of trouble. A beggar/thief/scrounger (possibly one of Adelbert’s people?) was possessed by the powers of this figure, causing him to mindlessly seek power and wreak havoc in the villages along a highway. King Belal has been possessed by a cloaked figure wearing a big red cat’s eye emblem, who we can probably assume is the same figure. Conrad’s arm and Gwendal’s left eye have been hurting, and they and Wolfram have been unconsciously drawn towards Shinou’s temple. The seal on the three boxes in Shin Makoku is weakening. During the goodwill party for the countries allied with Shin Makoku, Wolfram was spirited away by puppets/dolls. A mysterious figure attacked Adelbert’s fortress when Wolfram and Yuuri were there, using maryoku to create huge fire creatures. And this same figure was able to use mind control on Yuuri’s men when they came to confront him.
Some of these things smack of tests for Yuuri, such as the matter of the possessed man who got a hold of Alford’s holy sword. But others seem to be something else, and a rather disturbing thought occurred to me.
Since this story arc began, I’ve assumed that the figure who rose from the dust and took human form was the Shinou. The holy sword incident was a test/training for Yuuri, to get him to learn how to properly wield Morgif. Shinou withdraws once Yuuri has displayed his power/expelled him from the man’s body. When Shinou sends fire creatures to attack Adelbert’s fortress, Yuuri expends a great deal of power to stop him, and it is only at this point that Shinou backs down and leaves. Similarly, when Yuuri confronts Belal and discovers the mind control, the mysterious figure withdraws only after Yuuri has demonstrated the power to break that control (without even going into Maou mode).
This all makes sense for a king who wants to train his successor, and while it’s ominous and cruel (people do die because of these little games), what could be happening alongside this training is even worse.
Yuuri’s goal is to heal and unite all people, everywhere. But what if that isn’t Shinou’s goal?
We know that Shinou picked Yuuri–Julia’s soul–precisely because of his/her convictions. But we also know that Shinou has no qualms about being cruel to Yuuri and the people around him. Conrad was manipulated, and if not for Murata’s intervention would have been exiled from Shin Makoku. And it is inordinately sadistic to plant the keys to the boxes in two (or three?) of the children of one woman.
Side note: It’s been shown that Wolfram looks a lot like the Shinou. While he may not actually hold a key, it would seem that Shinou wants him for something. My guess would be that the Shinou wants a new body. Maybe the form he created for himself is difficult to maintain, or maybe he has to possess people in order to remain corporeal. (This would explain why he wears a mask: When he first reappeared he looked like himself [from what I could tell]. Assuming he is so vain as to want to keep his original appearance, he’s probably hiding whatever body he’s possessing until he can get a hold of Wolfram’s.)
It would seem that Shinou is preparing for the boxes to be used. He’s gathering them all up, and he’s caused the keys to appear (we know he approved of Cheri’s marriage to Conrad’s father just so that key could be created). What if his real goal is…the destruction of all humans?
Picture this. The humans get a hold of the boxes and keys. This means that the people closest to Yuuri are killed/manipulated in order to control the boxes. Yuuri has to use the power of the Maou to stop the boxes. But in his rage at the loss of his friends, will he go even further? Without those very friends to keep him in check, will he unleash his full destructive power on the human race?
Is Shinou’s true goal to orchestrate absolute genocide?
Well, that’s a lot of stuff. Enjoy the whitespace, non-spoiler-reading people.