Ryude, also known as the Winter Bard, was a mercenary who worked in El Nath. He was the wielder of his sword before it was taken by the World Tree after his death and kept at the Tower of Oz. The player assumes the role of Ryude in the Grand Athenaeum chapter 4.
As a boy, he would ask other citizens of El Nath if they liked the snow. While others saw snow as mankind's punishment, he had a much more positive approach to it.
When he grows up, he would become the leader of a mercenary group. It is unknown how large the group was. One day, he hears the warning beacon of the Dragon Master's tower, which sounds when the people are in danger. He wonders what the Dragon Master is doing during the end of the world. He later buys a harp from a boy for 500 mesos in a burned down village. He decides to stop being a mercenary after this as they have caused too much suffering and works on his childhood dream of being a bard.
5 years later, a wandering Alicia was attacked by the Thorny Bear she was trying to take back with her, Ryude saved her, damaging his harp in the process. He brings her back to his camp, with Hazelle and Mylar, to try to warm her up. After running some errands, the group spots some smoke emanating from the Lion King's Castle. The castle was a symbol of strength to the people of El Nath, so seeing the castle in such a shape sparked curiosity. They go to check it out.
As they reach the gates of the Castle, they ponder about the absence of soldiers. Alicia leaves, saying that standing outside will never accomplish anything. Hazelle follows her. Mylar and Ryude enter the castle. They find a lot of monsters in the castle walls and eventually find an injured human survivor, but he is too shaken up to tell them what has happened to the castle and its people. He mutters "the Lion King... The evil Shamaness" before he succumbs to his wounds. Mylar then detects the presence of two more, who he thought to be, survivors, inside the inner castle. Ryude goes in to try to 'rescue' them.As he enters, he overhears the conversation between the perpetrators. His instincts told him to run but he continues anyway. He learns about the Black Mage's planned attack on Ereve. But he is spotted by Von Leon and the two engage in a duel. The Lion King, having gained the powers of the Black Mage, quickly defeats Ryude, but before he can deal the finishing blow, Alicia appears and teleports Ryude to safety. Hilla and Von Leon are surprised as Maple World's Transcendents do not meddle in human affairs.
Ryude later regains consciousness, seeing familiar faces as well as learning about the survivors of the Lion King castle purge. Before he is fully recovered from his injuries, they get news of Von Leon's advancing army. Ryude goes to take them out while forging a path for the people. He later finds the corpse of the kid who sold him his harp 5 years earlier. He is disheartened and tells his group that they must head to the Dragon Master's tower to tell the world about the Black Mage's plans for world domination.
They reach the tower, Mylar immediately starts on a spell to activate the tower, but it will take 15 days to work. So, Ryude goes looking for Alicia, and while he's at it, goes hunt for some rations.
All seemed peaceful, but the Lion King and his army had been working to bring the gate to the tower down. Knowing the news, Ryude tells everyone that they need to hold the gate so that Mylar's spell goes off successfully. They hold a formidable defence, proving a challenge to both Black Mage Commanders.After fighting to the last man, and out of breath, the beacon is activated and victory is theirs. Von Leon approaches Ryude, and asks for his name. Ryude is then commended by the Lion King. Ryude then dies from exhaustion.
Several years later, Alicia comes to see him, his corpse still in the position he was last in. She tells good news that his and his men's deaths were not in vain as it attracted the attention of a Magician of Light with a mysterious past, an invincible Polearm Warrior, the Dragon Master, the unstoppable Queen of the Elves and the Master Thief. As Alicia sets his soul at ease, she takes his sword, which she will later place in the Tower of Oz.