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I do. Oh, how I do... It's true. The world may be destroyed by the coming of the dark god. Then again, it may not. I question the way in which our society is designed. No matter what strength a person has, it is the station he is born into that controls his destiny. And you cannot control where you will be born. Do you believe that a person of low birth should simply endure the curse of his station? I think not. If you are stronger than those around you, you should benefit from your strength. This is why I will use my strength to remake this world. Class and rank will not matter. Human and sub-human will not matter. The strong will possess everything. The weak will submit to their will. Is this not the meaning of peace?
~ Ashnard to Reyson in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance.

Ashnard (in Japanese: アシュナード), also known as the Mad King, is the thirteenth King of Daein and the main antagonist of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance

Biography

Early Life

Even though Ashnard was the prince of Daein, he had many older siblings and was never expected to become king. Instead, he served as a royal dracoknight and became a powerful warrior who was able to fight on par with Begnion's pegasus knights. During this time, he fought in many border skirmishes between Daein and Begnion, and his efforts played a huge role in allowing Daein to claim small portions of Begnion. Following the Serenes Massacre, Ashnard met Lehran, who was determined to awaken Ashera and have cast judgement on all of Tellius. Ashnard's ambitious nature and desire to change the world convinced Lehran that he would be able to help him with his goals, and when he told Ashnard about Lehran's Medallion and the dark god trapped inside it, Ashnard became determined to awaken the dark god. After obtaining Lehran's Medallion, Ashnard abducted Lillia, a royal heron laguz who had survived the Serenes Massacre, and imprisoned her in the temple at Palmeni, ordering her to awaken the dark god, which she was unable to do. Shortly before her death, Lillia asked Elena, a priestess at the temple, and her husband Gawain, one of the Four Riders of Daein who served Ashnard's father, to take the medallion and leave Daein in order to keep it out of Ashnard's reach. In addition, a warrior known only as the Black Knight joined the army and quickly won Ashnard's trust with his immense strength, even giving Ashnard powerful armor that had been blessed by Ashera.

At some point, he tricked his father into sign a blood pact with a mysterious wise man (possibly Lehran himself) under the pretense of it being a contract to secure the services of this man. Ashnard then had the wise man invoke the blood pact's curse, crippling Daein with a plague in the year 626. Among its victims, the plague struck Ashnard's mother and his other siblings, killing all of them and leaving only Ashnard and his father, who Ashnard would then kill, then destroyed the blood pact, ensuring that he would not be affected by the curse himself. Only Almedha and Lehran knew about the blood pact, with everyone else believing that Daein had been struck be a plague. Afterwards, Ashnard succeeded his father as king.

During this time, he met Almedha, the princess of the dragon nation of Goldoa who had left her country. Though the two never had an official wedding, they considered themselves to be married for all intents and purposes. The relationship was never truly built on love, but on power: Ashnard desired Almedha for her sheer power as a black dragon, but after getting her pregnant, she lost her powers and became completely useless to Ashnard. Following the birth of their child, Ashnard became obsessed with the boy out of hope that he possessed great power, only to discover that the child had no abilities. Ashnard would then use his son to bait Almedha's brother, Rajaion, to Daein, who he turned into a Feral One and forced into service as his "wyvern" steed. Ashnard then abandoned the child, and he and Almedha parted way. Rajaion's capture forced his fiancée, Ena, to leave Goldoa in search of him, and when she found him in Ashnard's possession, she joined Daein as a strategist out of a desire to at least be with Rajaion and to find a way to save him.

The Mad King's War

During his reign, Daein's relations with the kingdom of Crimea were never friendly, but had also never escalated beyond border skirmishes. When Ashnard invaded Crimea in the year 645, it took the Crimean military by surprise. Ashnard led the invasion himself and his army claimed a swift victory over Crimea, taking the capital city of Melior in a matter of days, after which he personally killed King Ramon and his wife. Afterwards, he ordered the capture and execution of princess Elincia, who had escaped and was rescued by the Greil Mercenaries. Following the fall of Crimea, he decided to invade the laguz nation of Gallia, a task which he left to the Black Knight. It was believed that by invading Gallia, he would provoke fellow laguz nations of Phoenicis, Kilvas, and Goldoa into declaring war on Daein as well, which in turn would force Begnion to side with Daein. The success of this plan depended on Ashnard getting Goldoa involved in the war as well, so Ashnard did everything in his power to provoke Goldoa's king, Dheginsea, into going to war, knowing that once the dragons joined in, they would be unable to stop fighting. However, Dheginsea refused to join the war for the sake of preserving the world.

As the war progressed, Ashnard had little interest in Begnion joining the war on Crimea's side or in the Crimean army conquering Daein in his absence, having abandoned the Daein capital Nevassa before it was invaded, but he was interested in how Gawain's son, Ike, was the leader of the Crimean forces, and how he had succeeded in recruiting other nations to his cause and raising the Crimean resistance to a point where it could rival Daein. The medallion was returned to him by Petrine, via Ena, soon after the fall of Nevassa, and after hearing that two more herons had survived, he demanded that the Black Knight capture one of them, so he could try unsealing the dark god through galdrar again. He ordered Ena to be killed by Petrine for her failure to prevent her from coming near and unsettling Rajaion, but after Petrine was killed, he ordered the Black Knight to do as he wished with her so long as she never came near Rajaion again.

By the spring of 646, Ike and Elincia's army had reclaimed almost all of Crimea and planned to invade and retake Melior from Ashnard. Despite being asked by Byrce, the last of his generals, to retreat, Ashnard refused to abandon the castle or save himself, instead being determined to test himself against the Crimean Liberation Army. He appeared before Ike and Elincia and challenged Ike to fight him, expecting a good fight out of Gawain's son. Ike fought his way through Ashnard's remaining forces, engaged him in battle, and defeated him, but Ashnard then deliberately touched Lehran's Medallion to empower himself, its energies drastically increasing his strength while he still somehow maintained his sanity. Despite his new power, Ike and the army were able to defeat and kill him, finally ending the Mad King's War.

Legacy

Although Ashnard had failed in his goals, his actions changed the course of history in Tellius. Daein ended up being controled by Begnion, which established a occupational garrison there whose abuses of its citizens provoked an uprising in 648 from the Daein Liberation Army, led by a man who many have thought to be Ashnard's son, Pelleas. Pelleas was even assisted by Almedha, who also believed that he was her son. The victory of the Liberation Army and the coronation of Pelleas, in turn, would cause a civil war in Crimea when members of the Crimean nobility were dissatisfied with Queen Elincia's response to the rise of someone who they feared would be another Ashnard.

During the Mad King's War, a mission at Palmeni Shrine led Ike and Reyson to originally believe that Ashnard was the one who caused the Serenes Massacre. However, when Prince Rafiel, another survivor of the Serenes Massacre, returned to Tellius, it was discovered that the massacre was actually caused by the Begnion Senate. After learning this, all of the laguz nations, except Goldoa, along with the Greil Mercenaries, formed the Laguz Alliance and declared war on Begnion, demanding justice for their role in instigating the massacre. This war achieved two of Ashnard's failed plans: starting a war that would cover all of Tellius, and causing the release of the dark god in the final battle between Daein and the Laguz Alliance.

During and after all of these events, it was believed that Pelleas was Ashnard's son. The truth of the matter was not revealed until Pelleas, while traveling with Almedha, Tibarn, and Elincia to the Tower of Guidance, fought Izuka, a former minion of Ashnard's who had orchestrated Pelleas' rise to power while working for the Begnion Senate. Izuka revealed to Pelleas that he was not Ashnard's son, but was really an orphan who Izuka used to pass as Ashnard's son. While Pelleas refused to believe it at first, he soon realized that this was true and admitted this to Almedha, while also helping her located her real son: Soren, Ike's strategist.

Personality

Ashnard was an ambitious and hot-blooded man who lived his life believing that strength was the true order of nature. He grew frustrated with the idea of nobility and how a person's postion in life is determined by their parents' position, and believed that the solution was a world in which anyone could claim the right to rule so long as they were strong enough to take it from others. In Ashnard's eyes, anyone who was weaker than him was nothing more than a disposable pawn, even the laguz.

Ashnard's philosophy extended into his army. When employing a warrior, he did not care about their origins or their rank in life as long as they could prove their strength and their worth. This tactic of his was well-known outside of Daein, which made it fairly easy to get outsiders such as the Black Knight close to him. However, his continued trust in a servant similarly relied on their ability to continue to prove themselves, so if even his closest soldiers gave nothing but repeated failures, he would discard them from his service entirely and possibly feed them to Rajaion. He cared little about the death of those who failed him and would sometimes even forget about them entirely. He only placed any value on those who proved to be strong and discarded anyone who he considered weak. This even included all of Daein, since he did show any anger after Nevassa was captured, only disappointment and frustration at the failures of Ena and his soldiers.

On a personal level, Ashnard loved participating in combat himself and took great pride in testing himself as a warrior. He placed relatively little value on his own life, believing that if he were to fall in battle, then his opponent would deserve the victory and the right to reign. Similarly, he cared little for the idea that he ought to preserve his own life solely because he happened to be royalty. Nothing pleased him more than the prospect of engaging a worthy foe, which led him to take a particular interest in Ike, who he believed would be exactly that; he even went so far as to test Ike with a gauntlet of elite soldiers purely for the thrill of seeing how Ike would defeat them. He was similarly excited by the prospects of fighting Tibarn and Nasir, and expressed interest in someday fighting the Black Knight. He also had a significant cruel streak, taking great enjoyment in provoking Bryce by revealing how he had been responsible for the deaths of his own family. He did not care about whether he would be regarded as evil after everything he had done, and said there would be no way to know until he was finished.

Other Appearances

Super Smash Bros.

In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Ashnard appears as both a trophy and sticker. The trophy is unlocked by clearing Level 3 of Target Smash with ten characters. The sticker increases Marth and Ike's resistance to slash attacks. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Ashnard appears as a support spirit that increases efficiency in toss and meteor smashes. His spirit battle is a Stamina battle against Ganondorf and Charizard (representing Rajaion) with increased defense on the Reset Bomb Forest stage.

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