Before the dust even settled on Nintendo’s grand Switch presentation, the Fire Emblem hype train crashed into the station like Prince Hector’s axe. We got hit with announcements of four new games: Fire Emblem Warriors (Dynasty Warriors gameplay in a Fire Emblem setting) for Switch, Fire Emblem Heroes for mobile, Fire Emblem Gaiden: Shadows of Valentia for 3DS, and an unnamed main series game slated for Nintendo Switch. Since Heroes dropped last week, I have a relevant excuse to discuss four of my favorite characters: the Royal Family of Nohr (Fire Emblem Fates) and lessons in family teach can teach us.
Warning: Spoilers for a year-old game follow.
The Royal Family of Nohr is dysfunctional in a Game of Thrones way: King Garon’s four remaining children (Xander, Camilla, Leo, and Elise) were all born from different concubines competing for his favor, adopted son/daughter Corrin is a kidnapped hostage, and the king himself actually died years ago and was replaced by an undead puppet of an evil dragon. Needless to say, he hasn’t been the best father lately. To top it all off, they rarely left the castle because the country is fraught with foul weather and roving bandits.
The siblings were essentially left on their own to support each other, and in the process, created a stronger family dynamic than their royal rivals in Hoshido. They stepped up to fill the missing roles from their lives, and each contribute in their own unique way. Read on to learn how you can take a few pages from their book to strengthen your own family or friend circle.
The Paragon Knight
The obvious candidate for the father role of this repurposed family is the oldest child and heir to the throne, Xander. When we meet him, he presents a strong and dutiful persona, but he wasn’t always that way. As a child, he was physically weak and introverted. It took years of dedicated training to claim the legendary sword Siegfried to wield. To overcome his shyness, he forced himself to speak to his father, whom he considered the most frightening person he ever knew.
Since their father became a mass murdering warlord tyrant, Xander assumed the role of father for his siblings. Youngest sibling Elise noted that he was the only father figure she ever knew. Before the stress of war overtook him, he often played with and doted attention on her. By the time Fates story begins, Xander had become distant from his family, but his love for them never wavered. He wows Camilla with nigh-encyclopedic knowledge of his siblings’ habits and hobbies. He secretly delights in doing good deeds for his family and friends, but will go out of his way to hide his involvement.
Dedication to family even outweighs his sense of fidelity to King Garon in the Conquest and Revelations story paths (not counting Birthright since it messes with my thesis). He defies his father on several occasions to protect Corrin, and his love for his adopted sibling drives him to abandon the pipe dream of restoring Garon to his former self and save his family and country from the mad king. Through these actions, Xander becomes both a father to his siblings and the father to his weary country.
The Bewitching Beauty
If Xander is the ‘father’ of this family, then the doting ax maiden Camilla steps in to be the mother. While Xander, Camilla, and Leo can at least remember a time where Garon was still a good father, none of the four royal children had any semblance of maternal love coming from the calculating concubines that birthed them. Camilla stepped up to fill this void, especially for Corrin. A running joke throughout the entire game is her tendency to smother Corrin with attention and speak to him/her like a child, while threatening fatal retaliation on those who would bring them grief.
Her motherly instincts extend beyond Corrin. She refers to Leo was her beloved “baby brother” despite him being an adult, but like a good parent, she then recognizes and praises him for his dedication to studying magic and training. He insists she’s merely flattering him and that he doesn’t deserve the adoration his siblings do, but she insist she has plenty of love to give, and there’s more than enough for him. Rather fittingly, her in-game ending states that after the war, she chose to focus on humanitarian work and adopted 11 children.
Of course, I’d be remiss to not address Camilla’s possessiveness. She jokingly suggests to her retainer Severa that she’d cut her legs off to keep the Tsundere-extraordinaire from leaving her, while in the Revelation story path, she states she will kill Corrin herself when ordered to defeat his army by King Garron. Nobody’s perfect, I guess?
The Sorcerous Prince
No family unit functions perfectly, and Leo is proof of that. Xander, Camilla, and Elise provided a loving and welcoming home for Corrin…seemingly at Leo’s expense. Corrin displayed more intellectual talent than Leo, but that was something he took in stride. Instead, it was the fact Camilla and Xander shifted their attention to the family’s new arrival that created a deep inferiority complex that plagued Leo throughout his young life. He had all the excuse in the world to become a petulant middle child angsty brat (see Takumi), but he never let that insecurity become resentment.
It took a few years, but Leo eventually understood why his siblings cared for Corrin as much as they did: his/her kind heart and boundless optimism. More important than that however, he realized his siblings didn’t care for him any less. Leo learned to become an invaluable supporter of those around him, whether it be tutoring Corrin in battle strategy, answering Elise’s endless questions about nature, or taking the brunt of the Nohrian population’s anger for enacting Xander’s government reforms after the war. He shows us that while being a charismatic leader is great, strong and silent support is just as invaluable.
Oh, and if you haven’t yet, check out Leo’s support conversations with Takumi. Best part of the game.
The Budding Flower
Every team needs its heart, and Elise delivers. Just look at that photo, it tells you everything you need to know about her personality: cheerful, bubbly, and childish. A plucky lolita dancing and twirling around the battlefield sounds like an annoyance, but that’s exactly what her family needs. Cynicism never consumed her like it did her siblings. True to her character, Elise is a healer, wiping away wounds with a stave like her smile wipes away weariness in her friends and allies.
Elise worries that the family she loves will one day be town apart by the circumstances of life, but it’s her boundless love for them that holds them together and drives them to fight for a better tomorrow. Camilla notes in a conversation with her that the Kingdom of Nohr is a dark place, but Elise’s innocence is one of the few lights in it. She says, “You inspire all of us to fight harder, and to hold fast to our hope. And one day, if we’re lucky, the sun will show itself to us again.”
Almost kind of makes up for how damn fragile she is on the battlefield. Almost.
Embrace the Dark You Call a Home
Family doesn’t always get it right. The Nohrian siblings have their disagreements and misunderstandings, but they have each other’s back until the very bloody end. Considering the backstabbing and loveless background they came from, it’s a wonder they didn’t murder each other years before the events Fire Emblem Fates happened. They show us how friends and family alike can pull together in the worst circumstances. Leo puts it perfectly: “If any of us siblings began to feel lost, they could always be reminded: Nothing is more important than our family. So long as we hold to this truth in our hearts, our bonds will never break.”
Want more Fire Emblem Fates goodness? Check out my post on motivational lessons from the heroic hillbilly Mozu.