|“||I cannot say that I command the love of my subjects... Zephiel and I are opposites in every way. It is hard to believe that he is my son.||”|
Desmond (Japanese: デズモンド Desmond) was the King of Bern as of the year 980. His envious and abusive treatment of his son, Zephiel, played a crucial role in shaping the future king's world view and convincing him to engage the rest of Elibe in a genocidal war, years after Desmond's demise.
A jealous father
Desmond was married to his first wife, Hellene of Etruria, as part of an arranged marriage aimed to achieve a political gain. However, he was already in love with a different woman and held no affection for Hellene, and when the marriage eventually yielded a son, Prince Zephiel, he took out his resentment on Zephiel. His marriage to Hellene soon came to an end with a separation, exiling both her and Zephiel to live apart from him in a private, well-attended manse, while he engaged in a relationship with the woman he actually loved; this relationship yielded a daughter, Guinivere, upon whom Desmond doted heavily.
As his children grew, Desmond forbade Zephiel and Hellene from visiting Bern Keep itself; this never stopped Zephiel himself, whose bond with Guinivere was deep. Indeed, the young Guinivere came to vastly prefer Zephiel's company to her father's, and the people of Bern soon came to revere Zephiel as the nation's future. Desmond grew increasingly frustrated and jealous with this and sought to undermine Zephiel's claim to the throne by any means necessary. In the lead-up to Zephiel's coming-of-age ceremony, he hired the Black Fang to steal the Fire Emblem and thus necessitating that the ceremony be cancelled entirely, denying Zephiel the ability to be named heir; he also commissioned them to directly assassinate Zephiel soon after. Both of these efforts were foiled by the efforts of Eliwood, Hector and Lyn, as they sought Hellene's aid to gain access to the Shrine of Seals. The Black Fang's failure to hold onto the Fire Emblem and to kill Zephiel so angered Desmond that he severed all ties to the Black Fang.
As the years passed afterward, Zephiel's popularity with the people of Bern grew even higher, even as Desmond sought to suppress his claim to the throne. At some point, he announced directly to Zephiel that the next king of Bern would be Guinivere's future husband, a condemnation which Zephiel claimed to not mind. Even so, the public pressure upon Desmond to properly recognize Zephiel ultimately caused him to lose his patience and attempt to have Zephiel killed again. He held a banquet and gave Zephiel a poisoned drink during it, rendering Zephiel gravely ill and nearly killing him.
Although Zephiel barely survived this attempt on his life with the assistance of Murdock, Desmond made no further known attempts to kill his son, although according to Guinivere, it is rumored that he sought to have Hellene, Murdock and anyone else associated with Zephiel assassinated instead. In response, Zephiel faked his own death to protect others and had a funeral staged. During the funeral, when Desmond came to observe his son's corpse, Zephiel rose from the casket and, sword in hand, killed Desmond. Zephiel then succeeded Desmond as the King of Bern, but despite his father's life coming to an end, the rest of Zephiel's own life was haunted and shaped by Desmond's abuse, twisting him into being deeply misanthropic.
Personality and character
A stark contrast to his gifted son, Desmond was, by both his own admission and in the view of everyone around him, a plain man of average skill and intellect. He earned very little love or sympathy from the people of Bern during his rule, who instead rallied around Zephiel. He never held any actual love for Hellene in their arranged marriage, which combined with Zephiel's drastic superiority to render Desmond extremely bitter and jealous toward his son. He came to view Zephiel as nothing but a threat, not only to his rule of Bern, but even to his relationship with Guinivere; Zephiel's love of playing with Guinivere and giving him gifts, and Guinivere's fondness for her half-brother, were interpreted by Desmond as Zephiel attempting to steal his daughter.
Desmond was a harsh and unforgiving man who let his personal grudges rule his life, instantly having his servants kill a fox gifted to Guinivere by Zephiel despite Guinivere's wish for him to take care of it. When confronting Zephiel or Hellene, he was exceptionally rude and blunt, feigning a thin pretense of concern amidst his constant verbal abuse of the two; he was also extremely paranoid of the two and of anyone loyal to them, interpreting virtually any gesture they made as a clear sign of traitorous, throne-stealing intent. Even amidst his terrible treatment of Zephiel and Hellene, he still claimed that their life in the manse was treating them well and ensuring them comfortable lives. However, even his blind hatred of the two did not prevent him from seeing practical value in certain scenarios, as despite Murdock's famous loyalty to Zephiel, he was reluctant to let a soldier of his skill be killed in an assassination attempt against Zephiel, although he would later plan to have Murdock killed anyway following his second attempt on Zephiel's life.
- Although his life and treatment of Zephiel is discussed extensively, Desmond is not mentioned by name at all in the Japanese script of The Binding Blade, and it was Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade which first named him "Desmond". The gringe fan translation of The Binding Blade would later add several references to Desmond by name to further tie the two games together.
Etymology and other languages
|Names, etymology and in other regions|
|Language||Name||Definition, etymology and notes|
Desmond's portrait in in Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade.
- "Guinivere: ...Zephiel and I have different mothers. In actuality, I am his half sister.
Roy: I heard that Zephiel's mother was an Etrurian noblewoman.
Guinivere: That's correct. They were arranged to be wed for political reasons. However, our father was already in love with another woman. That was my mother. [...] The marriage between the king and Zephiel's mother was forced. Our father didn't love Zephiel's mother and always resented their son." — Guinivere and Roy, Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade
- "Hellene: At last... Once the ceremony ends, our son, so long lingering in the shadows, will be received by all as the legitimate heir to your throne. Do you know how he has longed for this day?
Desmond: Cease your complaints. You and Zephiel, queen and heir of Bern, have never wanted for anything.
Hellene: We are here in this manse, while you live in the palace with...that woman. You must be so disappointed that she bore you not a prince but a princess.
Desmond: Hellene! You go too far!!
Hellene: My child, who through me carries the noble blood of Etruria in his veins, will in ten days be named as the right-born heir to the throne. Ha ha ha! No matter how you may dote on her, your illegitimate daughter, Guinivere, is destined to be nothing more than a baseborn shadow... It is my son who shall reign in Bern! My son, Zephiel! Ha ha ha ha ha! How it gives me such pleasure to say those words!" — Desmond and Hellene, Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade
- "Nergal: Ah, Sonia... So, you botched the assassination of the prince, did you?
Sonia: Ah... My lord, it was--
Nergal: The king is in a dark and terrible mood over your failure. I've a message from him severing all his ties to the Black Fang." — Nergal and Sonia, Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade
- "Guinivere: He went as far as to tell Zephiel that he would never inherit Bern. He said that instead, the throne would go to my future husband.
Roy: His own father told him that?! What a heartless man!
Guinivere: But Zephiel held strong. He always said he never cared about inheriting the throne. But the people of Bern knew of Zephiel's genius and wanted him king. Pressured by the public, our father lost his patience at last...
Roy: That's when he decided to kill Zephiel...?
Guinivere: Our father gave Zephiel a goblet full of a poisoned drink at a banquet. That was the first and last time Zephiel ever accepted a drink from our father. After returning to his room, Zephiel began to fall dreadfully ill. For ten days and nights, Zephiel lingered between life and death. But Murdock, Zephiel's teacher and loyal general, saved his life." — Guinivere and Roy, Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade
- "I have heard that he schemed to have Murdock and Zephiel's mother killed. He was scheming to murder everyone connected to Zephiel." — Guinivere, Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade
- "Guinivere: Upon learning of our father's intentions, Zephiel feigned death. At his funeral service, our father leaned over the coffin to view Zephiel's body. It was at that moment that Zephiel sprung from the coffin and...sword in hand...
Guinivere: I was but a child then, so naturally I could not understand what was going on. All I knew at the time is that our father died, and Zephiel never smiled again. Before then, he was stern at times, but always a kind and loving brother. But after everything that happened..." — Roy and Guinivere, Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade
- "Desmond: I have heard that Zephiel is... a gifted student, a stunning fighter, excelling in all he tries. And I’ve also heard that he is much loved by the people.
Hellene: Yes! It is true. All of it! He is a worthy son.
Desmond: I...excelled at neither books nor blades.
Hellene: What do you–
Desmond: I cannot say that I command the love of my subjects... Zephiel and I are opposites in every way. It is hard to believe that he is my son." — Desmond and Hellene, Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade
- "...Zephiel, you knave. Trying to steal my Guinivere’s love... ...You will learn your place!" — Desmond, Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade
- "Guinivere: No! I want to play with him, not you! I’ll go and call him back. Here, hold my fox!
Desmond: ...... Attend me!!
Soldier: Yes, my lord.
Desmond: Take this beast and kill it! Do not let Guinivere know what you do." — Guinivere, Desmond and a soldier, Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade
- "Desmond: ...I’ve told you to stay away from the castle.
Zephiel: Yes...I know... I beg your pardon. I heard that Guinivere was ill and I was...worried.
Desmond: Hah, you mean you came to see if she would die, don’t you?
Murdock: I beg your pardon, Your Majesty, that...
Desmond: Hold your tongue, Murdock! Do not forget whom you serve! The king of Bern!!
Zephiel: It’s all right, Murdock... Father, I would never want to see Guinivere harmed in–
Desmond: You and your mother think of nothing more than stealing my throne. You plague me. Return to the manse!" — Desmond, Zephiel and Murdock, Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade
- "Sonia: However, General Murdock, the man protecting the prince... He is young, yet well respected. Shall we finish him, too?
Desmond: ...Murdock... His birth is low. And yet his combat skills have won him the title of Wyvern General. It would be a great blow if Bern were to lose him. I’ll think of something to remove him from Zephiel’s side. Will that do?" — Sonia and Desmond, Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade
- Behind the Name: Meaning, origin and history of the name Desmond, www.behindthename.com, Retrieved: 22 October 2018
|This article is part of Project Characters, a project focused in writing articles for every character present in the Fire Emblem series.|