|“||The Church has used it for centuries as a tool for guiding lost souls... Well, that's what it says here, anyway. It's now being kept at the Vatican.||„|
|~ Gepetto about the Holy Mistletoe.|
|“||...Yes. the ultimate tool for exorcising demons.||„|
|~ Father Nicolai Conrad about the Holy Mistletoe.|
The Holy Mistletoe is an item in the videogame Shadow Hearts: Covenant and it was used to curse the main hero Yuri Hyuga. It is the central plot element of Shadow Hearts: Covenant and indirectly the source of the first game's good ending.
BackgroundThe Holy Mistletoe is an holy item used by exorcists to purify souls and destroy demons. It was kept locked away within the Aponia Tower in the Vatican for centuries as a resting place. The Aponia Tower used to imprison and torture heretics during it's various Inquisitions and ethnic purges and over time the tower came to be haunted by the ghosts of late occupants; As such even after the church ceased such practices it kept the Aponia Tower standing as a vault for various sacred and forbidden items, the Holy Mistletoe being one and a vault of Malice being the other. Kept in the high reaches of the tower guarded by a Gargoyle and halls of ghosts on the way up, The Holy Mistletoe was locked away as a last resort among exorcists.
The Demon of Domremy
In the year 1913, Father Nicolai Conrad, a plant within the Vatican for Sapientes Gladio, was ordered by the cult's leader, Grigori Rasputin, to find a way to defeat the Demon Lord Amon. Amon had been invoked by man named Albert Simon, a former member of the group from it's more idealistic beginnings, to defeat the Demonic Lord Rasputin had sold his soul to, Asmodeus. Rasputin feared Amon's power and for this Nicolai was told to find a method of destroying Amon and if possible Albert Simon with him, it took Nicolai a long time to uncover even whispers of such an item, let alone locate and confirm it's existence, by 1915 he did find out about the Holy Mistletoe. Before Nicolai could even begin to make his way into the tower, which was no simple task, news passed through Sapientes Gladio that Amon had been stolen from Albert Simon, by a being the group had nick-named Godslayer, and what's more the Godslayer had used Amon to kill Simon and drive back God Himself, who Simon had summoned to destroy Asmondeus and all his followers. Though the Godslayer had saved the group in the short term he had access to Amon, so Nicolai's orders stood and his mission had not changed, only his target.
While forming a plan of extraction for the Mistletoe, Nicolai heard the German Army had encountered a winged demon guarding the small village of Domremy on the German border, the village was of no military value to Germany but capturing it was a matter of national honor, so losing a battle for such a small territory during the Great War (World War I) set a bad public face thus the Lieutenant of the first failed troop was to be sent back as soon as she made her report and recovered. Niclolai sent word to Germany that he would help deal with the demon problem on behalf of the Vatican and met Lieutenant Karin Koenig. Karin had orders to help Nicolai in anyway she could to be rid of the opposition in Domremy. Nicolai asked Karin to return with him to the Vatican while her superiors organized the troops for a second strike. Once in the Vatican Nicolai pointed out the Aponia Tower and brief her on it's dark history and the item housed at it's top. Nicolai said the Mistletoe was an exorcists' tool used to banish demons and he needed her help to get passed the ghosts guarding it. Karin and Nicolai made their way up the haunted tower until they arrived at the vault room at the top, Nicolai warned Karin of the guardian and the two fought and eventually beat the Gargoyle guardian, where upon Nicolai finally came into possession of the Mistletoe.
The two returned to Domremy and found Karin's troop waiting for them. Karin launched the second siege of the village and she and Nicolai headed the charge. At the center of town in the church Karin's troops reported that the monster was waiting inside, while her troops waited outside Karin and Nicolai went in. Karin heard her combat from her troops outside but Nicolai cautioned her not to leave the church. As Nicolai called out to the demon, Amon appeared. Amon transformed into Yuri Hyuga and Nicolai knew at last he had encountered the Godslayer. Nicolai announced his true intentions and how he was sent to aquire the Mistletoe to kill Albert Simon but that Yuri had gotten to him first Though with Yuri's defeat Sapientes Gladio's future was secured Nicolai considered the fight personal since Yuri had stolen his prey from him. However even in human form Yuri firmly beat Nicolai with minimal effort. His ego further wounded, Nicolai called in his support from Sapientes Gladio, headed by Lenny Curtis. Lenny had been the one to kill Karin's troops and was holding hostage one of Yuri's friends from the village named Jeanne. Before Nicolai could act Karin pulled her gun on Lenny ordering him to let the girl go. Nicolai went to attack Karin but was intercepted by Yuri. However before being backhanded into a wall Nicolai was able to jab the Mistletoe into Yuri's chest, a light overtook Yuri and he passed out.
When Yuri awoke he was in a cave with his friend Gepetto and Jeanne's pet wolf Blanca, who had gotten him and Karin out of the church, they had not been able to save Jeanne however. Karin tried to apologize for her part in the ordeal but Gepetto advised her to forget about it for the time and just travel with them until they could get out of the forest to safety. As they made their way through the forest Yuri felt weakened, Amon and all his other demonic forms were gone, and worse still the Malice that had once cursed Yuri's heart was back and attracting monster to him again. Once the party makes it way out of the forest they head to Gepetto's apartment in Paris where he had many books on the occult, one of which with details on the Mistletoe. Gepetto only found a brief description of the Mistletoe and it seemed that the curse was still in effect and would eventually kill Yuri. Yuri however knew the great alchemist Roger Bacon who was far more versed in ancient items of the Mistletoe's like and so they began a journey to Roger's home in Wales. Karin came as well wanting to make up for helping Nicolai.
In Yuri's heart, in an area called the Spirit's Graveyard, he had thought destroyed Yuri soon encountered a giant tree with a sleeping version of himself fused to it. While in the Spirit's Graveyard Yuri also saw Jeanne's ghost who had stowed-away in his heart thanks to his powers. Jeanne said the tree was some part of the Mistletoe's curse but she did not know what. Jeanne told Yuri she would not pass on until she found some way to help him be free of the curse. Yuri thanked her and the two began attempting to breakdown the barriers placed upon Yuri's powers. As Yuri defeated more monsters he gained more Malice but was able to use it to burn away the seals on his fusion forms, although doing so meant he had to fight the manifestations of those monsters once spent to break the seals.
When finally reaching Wales the party finds Roger had been kidnapped by Sapientes Gladio and travel across Europe fighting the group and following clues to Roger's location. After a final battle with Lenny, Roger was finally freed. Roger told the group of Rasputin and they set off to Russia to defeat him for revenge and to get answers on the Mistletoe's curse. In their first encounter Rasputin soundly beat them through a combination of the Mistletoe's curse, which allowed him to knock Yuri out with a simple gesture and displaying Asmondeus' power to take care of Yuri's friends with ease. Yuri and his friends retreated but Rasputin used his influence in the Russian court to frame Yuri and his friends for an assassination attempt of prince Alexi, ensuring they would not be back to try to stop him again. After their defeat in Russia Roger sent them to a man called Jovis, the original leader of Sapientes Gladio in it's idealistic days to find out what they could about Rasputin's powers.
True Curse of the Mistletoe
Jovis revealed many things such as Asmodeus' presence as the source of Rasputin's power, the history of Amon and that Simon, a former enemy of Yuri had been only trying to stop Rasputin. Jovis also preformed a ritual to send Yuri into the deeper parts of his heart to unlock Amon. Once the ritual was complete and Yuri re-fought Amon in his heart he met Albert's ghost who had been pulled in with Amon. Albert said with Amon unlocked from his place in Yuri's heart he would use his power to halt the Mistletoe's curse and Yuri promised to use Amon to beat Rasputin and Asmodeus. Yuri re-fought Rasputin after clearing his name in Russia by stopping Rasputin's assassination attempt of the Tsar. In the fight Amon broke Asmodeus's shield protecting Rasputin's body, in desperation Rasputin called on the full power of Asmodeus becoming much strong but also possessed by his benefactor and retreated to the Idar Flamme, Asmodeus's fortress. Yuri and his friends made their way into the Idar Flame and fought their way to Asmodeus. After his defeat Rasputin was returned to his normal self and lay dying. With his last breath though Rasputin not only warned Yuri that Nicolai was still at large and possessed by Amon's and Asmodeus' rival Astaroth, but also that the true horror of the Mistletoe's curse was that it would not just seal Amon's power and kill his host but also destroy his vey soul. Amon's power and Yuri's will-power could only slow down the curse and eventually Yuri's very being would cease to be, even if he killed himself.
Jeanne and the ghost of Alice Elliot provide Yuri with a way out of the curse depending on the player's choice. A single dialog choice the player chooses in the final dungeon of Takamagahara determines if Yuri has the strength of character to overcome the curse. Jeanne asks Yuri what happiness, real happiness means to him, Yuri can respond with living his own way or living peacefully. If Yuri chooses living his own way a sequence of events will occur after the final boss that allows Yuri to overcome the curse, though at the cost of his life. If Yuri would rather live in peace his heart falters in fear for his life, as a result he is warped from the dungeon saving his life but Yuri returns to the world with no memory. Roger finds Yuri and upon seeing the Mistletoe has done it's work simply poses as Yuri's father and walks him home to take care of him rather than leave him clueless in the middle of no-where.
If Yuri chooses to live his own way he is not lifted by his desire for life as the Takamagahara implodes and Yuri is killed. However Alice's ghost finds Yuri's soul and pulls it free of the Mistletoe tree as his life ends. The explosion of Takamagahara, which exists outside time, combined with Yuri's connection to Alice shifts his soul through time into his body five years prior, when he first met Alice at the start of the first game Shadow Hearts. This will be what justifies Yuri's choices to save Alice and get the game's good ending a full game later. The ending with Yuri breaking the Mistletoe's curse is the cannon one according to Shadow Hearts: From the New World.