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|“||Ha ha ha...Be gone with you boy! Return to the world of the living!||„|
|~ The frequent words of the Four Masks whenever Yuri temporarily secures his sanity.|
The Four Masks are characters in the videogame Shadow Hearts. All four 'live' in Yuri's heart and gnaw at his soul. They plague Yuri constantly through-out the game and unlike the rest of the villains in the game they are not concerned with world conquest or destruction but are just concerned with making the main protagonist Yuri suffer and attack him personally without the help of any of his friends most of the time. If the player does not hold off their advances between every few battles they will summon a grim reaper Yuri has come to call Fox Face, to kill him in the real world.
Yuri's Inner Demons
Yuri is a Harmonixer, a person capable of defeating demons and monsters and fusing their essence to his body in order to transform into a monstrous manifestation of their demonic powers. However Yuri has many dark feelings within him and does not have the spiritual balance or training most Harmonixers in his line have had so his heart has become a graveyard in the truest sense for the souls of the vengeful demons who he has slain. The Four Mask are the four oldest spirits or perhaps the four broadest culmination of the demon ghosts Yuri has slain and fused with. They wish to avenge their brothers and constantly manifest the hatred of whatever monsters Yuri has recently slain. The longer Yuri goes without clearing the Malice the Masks build up in his heart the stronger the manifestation gets. If the manifestation grows unchecked the Masks use it to open the gate of darkness in Yuri's heart and summon their grim reaper Fox Face to strike at Yuri in the real world.
Over time Yuri will encounter a terrible angel called the Seraphic Radiance. In order to prevent it from destroying the world Yuri decides to fuse with it. Though he subdues it he loses himself in the creature's Malice and loses control of his body to the Seraphic Radiance and the Masks. When his friends finally manage to find him he is completely lost in his own mind and thinks he is still a child and the party are monsters attacking him and his mother. After fighting them and being defeated Alice, Yuri's love interest, goes into the Spirit Graveyard of Yuri's heart and speaks with the Masks. The Mask at first bid her leave but when Alice says she is willing to do anything to save Yuri even risk her soul one of the Masks becomes intrigued at the notion and convinces the others to give her a chance to reacquire Yuri's soul. In exchange for the chance the Masks say they will take her life at some future point when they feel it will hurt Yuri the most.
Alice confronts Fox Face and eventually helps Yuri regain himself though she never tells him about the deal since there is nothing that can be done to stop it and he will just become more hurt. After the point when Fox Face is defeated the Malice acquired from defeating foes appears to have stopped...at first.
If Yuri does nothing to attend to the Masks for the rest of the game eventually after defeating the final boss The Masks will kill Alice on the train ride over to her aunt and uncle in France just as Yuri is finally about to make a peaceful life with her and the world is saved. Their servant Atman, the keeper of souls pacts, will come for Alice just before the boss of the game. The Battle is hopeless and can not possibly be won and Alice will continue to live through the boss battle but be living on borrowed time then pass away in her sleep next to Yuri on the train. The Masks will laugh and mock Yuri but never quite tell him what they are laughing at and he is left unaware of what has gone on until Alice's death.
This is actually the canon ending...the first part of it...
If the player follows the extra-quests of the game before meeting Koudelka, collects all three magical books Albert Simon uses through-out the game, summons each Mask with the books and Malice and defeats them then Yuri will be able to help Alice when Atman appears to claim Alice's soul. Once all the books are acquired the Masks them-selves become enraged at Yuri for trying to find a way around the deal and attack him in the real world, this time personally not with conjurations. If defeated the Masks become powerless and Yuri keeps them around intentionally for the sole purposes of being able to gloat to them about it and they will eventually decay into nothingness when the game is over.
This ending is non-conical, in a way it is though. Since at the end of the sequel game, Shadow Hearts: Covenant, Yuri goes back in time to when he first met Alice to change things around. So presumably the new game+ the player gets upon completion is in fact Yuri having lived with Alice dying, going through the events of Shadow Hearts: Covenant and then getting the good ending by doing the extra side quests. It is actually far more likely the player will overlook something at first and get the bad ending. So the retry for the good ending is canonically coming a full game later.