As Rio burns some documents, the other girls help Noel bring together the spider legs of Takemikazuchi. Afterward, Kureha helps Kanata look for information about Iliya, but there’s none to be found. Kureha, however, is still able to tell Kanata about how Iliya died trying to save a drowning child and how she was set to wed the Emperor of Rome to improve relations between their countries. While this is on her mind, Kanata is found by Yumina and a girl who want her to check on an old woman named Jacott who lives alone on the nearby mountain. Kanata convinces Rio to come with her, and the two come across Jacott building another house next to her current one. Jacott explains that she’s building it for her son should he return, but the girls are more concerned about how she hasn’t prepared for the upcoming winter cold. Since the old woman won’t leave the mountain, Rio and Kanata are left with no choice but to help her get some firewood and food.
While in town, Rio asks Kanata about the place she was born and then reveals that she herself was raised by her mother in a small village near the capital city. She had a half-sister who came to see her sometimes, and Rio learned to play the trumpet from her. Rio also talks about how she felt lost and eventually realized that Seize was a dead end, but Kanata feels that what’s important is that they were able to meet here. Later that night, the two return to Jacott’s home to help her prepare for the coming cold, and when asked, Rio compares the old woman to her own mother. It turns out that Rio was born as a result of an impermissible love, and her mother had always waited for that man, leading to what Rio believes was an unhappy life and death. Jacott questions why Rio thinks that her mother was unhappy and claims that she herself is very happy with her belief that the person she’s waiting for will return.
Jacott’s own past involved falling in love with the son of a merchant and giving birth to his child. However, he already had a family and had taken the child back with him to his real wife with the promise that he would someday come back for her. On this very night, after Kanata and Rio have fallen asleep in her home, Jacott sees a vision of that man and runs to him. Kanata and Rio wake up in the morning to find Jacott gone, and her trail is lost in the snow. Upon returning to the fort, the girls meet up with Naomi who explains Jacott’s past to them, and Naomi also brought a photo of Iliya. Rio doesn’t stop her from showing it to the other girls, and while she goes to play Amazing Grace, the girls learn that Rio has decided to leave. Kanata has by now realized that it was Iliya who she had met a long time ago and how that music led to her and Rio meeting here. Having earlier heard from Filicia about the Roman army being on the move, Rio has concluded that she has to go do what only she can, and she gives Kanata her trumpet before departing.
I wasn’t sure where they were going with this episode at first, but I ended up really enjoying it. They confirmed a lot of what we had suspected in terms of Iliya and Rio’s background, including how Rio is indeed needed so that she can be married off to ensure peace, and Jacott’s story made for a nice parallel to Rio’s own story (or rather her mother’s). Rio’s ultimate departure was a little surprising, mainly because I didn’t think it’d be so soon, but they did a great job packing emotion into those final scenes and working in the theme of unifying sound and music. I have to mention too that I love their use of the soundtrack, especially during the scene where Rio and Kanata were walking around the city.
Now I want to say that this likely won’t be the last time we see Rio, but with only two episodes left (not including the two extra DVD/BD ones), I’m not so sure. It all depends on what kind of conflict they build up next episode, like if there’s going to be another outbreak of fighting or if there’s going to be something connected to the legend appearing. The preview on the official site doesn’t seem to point to either of those though and instead indicates that the girls will meet a hostile soldier.