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|“||The heron at Oliver's mansion... He slapped my hand away when I tried to help him. He had such hatred in his eyes. When he leapt from the window, he spoke to me. "Remember the genocide," he said. "Twenty years have passed, but I will never forgive what you did!"||”|
The Serenes Massacre was a genocidal mob attack committed by the people of Begnion on the Serenes Forest as an act of vengeance for the assassination of the beloved Apostle Misaha. The attack resulted in the collapse of the Kingdom of Serenes, the near-extinction of the heron laguz tribe, and the destruction by fire of much of the forest.
The Kingdom of Serenes, populated entirely by the herons, was founded out of tensions with the rest of Begnion and its senate because its inhabitants questioned the validity of the title of apostle, bestowed upon its emperors. The territory was originally part of Begnion, but the herons seceded and founded their own nation within the bounds of Serenes Forest, their ancestral home, in the year 470, in protest of Begnion's war of continental conquest against the rest of Tellius. The herons continued to contest the legitimacy of the apostle's claims.
In the year 595, Misaha took the throne of Begnion and the title of apostle, becoming immensely popular among the people of Begnion. Twenty-nine years into her rule, she passed the Laguz Emancipation Act into law, seeking to put an end to laguz slavery in Begnion for good despite the will of the senate. With immense public pressure mounting as a result of Misaha's leadership, Duke Lekain of the Begnion senate orchestrated a plot to have Misaha assassinated to put a stop to her attempts to end laguz slavery, and to pin the blame for the crime on the herons under the pretense of their doubt of the apostle. The plan was carried out in the year 625, with Misaha murdered and her infant granddaughter believed to have died along with her.
|“||She’s dead, isn’t she? Those damned sub-humans… Every last one of ’em’s got to die! For the apostle!||”|
— A Begnion citizen
After Misaha's death, the senate issued an announcement of her demise and explicitly claimed in it that the herons had been responsible for the act. The news enraged the citizens of Begnion, and within a matter of days, a violent mob erupted and converged on the edge of Serenes Forest, then marched into it. They set the forest alight with torches and burned it to a lifeless husk, with their point of entrance being burned especially harshly, and by the end of the three days of the enraged mob behavior, the heron tribe was near-completely wiped out.
Only five herons are known to have survived the Serenes Massacre, all of them members of the royal family. King Lorazieh and his son Reyson were rescued by King Tibarn of Phoenicis and entered his custody, although Lorazieh remained bedridden for decades afterward because of the massacre. The eldest prince, Rafiel, was in slave captivity at the time and was not present, and believed himself to be the only surviving heron for that reason. The young princess Leanne, then an infant, was believed to have been a victim as well, but actually spent twenty years asleep in hiding under the forest's protection, through the efforts of her sisters. Another princess, Lillia, was abducted along with Lehran's Medallion and later died in Daein custody.
The massacre was viewed as an atrocity in all laguz nations, but the fellow bird tribes took it particularly hard. The hawk nation of Phoenicis chose to to completely refuse any further association or dealings with beorc nations and, as acts of revenge for the massacre, to turn to piracy and pillage Begnion ships. Reyson himself, in particular, was consumed by a desire for vengeance and justice against all beorc, with Tibarn acting on his behalf in matters of war. This rift would not be mended until the year 645, when Leanne was rediscovered and rescued by Ike, and Misaha's successor Sanaki offered an apology to the surviving herons.
The forest itself was left completely abandoned in the aftermath of the massacre. The effects of the Begnion citizens' acts of arson fundamentally changed the forest for the years to come, leaving it scarred and rotting with no surviving growth, and turning much of its terrain into thick marsh. To the people of Begnion in the years after the massacre, the ruins of the forest served as a grim reminder of the atrocities they had committed against the forest and the herons. Many of the citizens who participated in the massacre themselves deeply regretted their actions, even decades later, often begging for forgiveness from the goddess. It was not until the year 645 that the forest would be restored to its former glory, when Reyson and Leanne performed the galdr of rebirth at an altar in its heart.
The senate's role in blaming the herons directly appears to have been quickly forgotten, and this part of the story never reached laguz nations. Instead, the common retelling of the massacre as of twenty years later claims that as far as anybody knew, the heron accusations were a rumor of unknown origin which quickly spread through Sienne. During the Mad King's War, a mission at Palmeni Shrine led Ike and Reyson to the false conclusion that both Misaha's assassination and the rumors of heron involvement had been the work of King Ashnard of Daein as part of a plot to claim Lehran's Medallion. The only person not involved in its orchestration to know of the senate's involvement was the survivor Rafiel, whose disappearance into the Grann Desert meant that he was not able to share this information with anybody in Tellius for twenty-three years. Once he did, however, all laguz nations save for Goldoa, along with the Greil Mercenaries, formed the Laguz Alliance and declared war on Begnion, demanding justice for their role in instigating the massacre.
With all of this going on, none were aware of the most significant fallout of the Serenes Massacre until it was too late. The ancient heron laguz Lehran, ancestor of Misaha, was not present in Serenes during the massacre and was driven to madness by the monstrosity of the act, having lost both his tribe and his descendant in a matter of days. In retaliation, Lehran became determined to bring about the awakening of the goddess Ashera to judge the people of Tellius for violating their pact of peace with her, and concocted an elaborate plan to orchestrate a continent-spanning war to trigger the release of Yune from the medallion and invoke the judgement. In pursuing this plan he was even willing to exploit the few surviving herons by leaving Lillia and the medallion with Ashnard and informing him of what the medallion could do if Lillia were to release Yune (ignoring that she could, in fact, not do so), setting up a crucial part of the Mad King's War.
The Serenes Massacre as depicted in Radiant Dawn.
- Timeline of Tellius
- "Sanaki: If Sephiran and I hadn’t been freed… You were just waiting for your chance to kill us? Just as you killed my grandmother.
Lekain: Out of respect for the imminently deceased, I’ll be completely honest. Yes, you assume correctly. Your assassination, and the plot to once again frame the Serenes herons for it, was entirely my idea." - Sanaki and Lekain, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
- "I'm glad I got to you first. See, I heard that the Serenes Massacre was all your doing. That puts you at the very top of the list of the enemies of the bird tribes." - Tibarn, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
- "Civilian: Oh, my lord sage! The apostle! She’s…she’s dead.
Lehran: What? How?
Civilian: According to the senators’ announcement, she was assassinated by the Serenes herons." - Some civilians and Lehran, Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
- "It's been like this since your clan's been gone. The area near the entrance is especially bad. They used fire...Most of the trees are dead." - Naesala, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
- "Tibarn: Have you been here by yourself for all these years?
Leanne: (I don't know...that night... My sisters took me and hid me in the small shrine. I'm sure they sang a galdr to me...And then I became so sleepy...)
Reyson: The forest protected her. It kept her asleep for so long..." - Tibarn, Leanne, and Reyson, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
- "Those humans burned Serenes Forest and killed my people. No amount of human blood can slake my thirst for vengeance. For my siblings, for my countrymen, I demand justice. I cannot even return my bedridden father to our forest home! I am no soldier. I know nothing of war, so King Phoenicis acts in my stead. I am most grateful to him, and I would not see him stop until Begnion has paid." - Reyson, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
- "Hmm... You read me well. To begin with, the heart of the forest was divided into three large sections. Maybe more. It was nearly colorless, and difficult to see far. The muddy floor pulled at our feet, and progress was slow. Many of the soldiers around me were afraid that they didn't bring enough supplies. They said a person would need them if he got lost, because getting out again would be no easy task. Hmm... You read me well. To begin with, the heart of the forest was divided into three large sections. Maybe more. It was nearly colorless, and difficult to see far. The muddy floor pulled at our feet, and progress was slow. Many of the soldiers around me were afraid that they didn't bring enough supplies. They said a person would need them if he got lost, because getting out again would be no easy task." - A Begnion servant, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
- "Such needless pain...It may sound like utter hypocrisy, but my people regret deeply the actions of that horrific night. We stole the heron clan from this world... Every time we see the blackened forest, our grave sin comes back to haunt us." - Sanaki, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
- "...My parents... They both participated in the Serenes massacre. They're nearing the ends of their lives, but even now they lie awake at night and beg the goddess for forgiveness." - A Begnion servant, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
- "Nasir: It would appear that no one is willing to begin this story. That being so, I would open with what is commonly known of the matter. Do you find this acceptable?
Sanaki: And you are?
Ike: He is a friend of mine. Nasir, if you know something, I would hear it. When you are done, the apostle can clarify. Agreed?
Nasir: It begins with the assasination of the previous Begnion apostle. It was twenty years ago... One year after the declaration of emancipation was made. The leader at the time was the Apostle Misaha, who was more adored by the public than any apostle before...or since. When she was assassinated, the citizenry was wracked with grief. All of Begnion despaired. And then, a rumor began to circulate that the assassination was the work of the Serenes herons. In the twinkling of an eye, the rumor spread throughout the Begnion capital. One night shortly thereafter, it happened. The citizens grew violent. They massed at the edge of Serenes Forest, home of their supposed enemy, and set it to burn. The crowd raged on for three nights, and in the end, the heron clan was lost." - Nasir, Sanaki, and Ike, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
- "If true, it changes the meaning behind this war... The treatment of Lillia is one thing but...The assassination of the former apostle? The framing and destruction of my nation? If it was all part of Daein's plan to steal the medallion and the song, then I...I... The reason I fight..." - Reyson, Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance
- "Sephiran: Lady Sanaki, your theory is half correct… and half incorrect. Sir Ike, I’m afraid your father’s death was an unfortunate result of Zelgius’s own personal agenda. I must admit that I did ask him to seize the medallion and hand it over to King Ashnard, but it was not to gain Ashnard’s trust.
Sanaki: Then why?
Sephiran: “Because originally the medallion belonged with me. 23 years ago, I placed it with Princess Lillia of Serenes." - Sephiran and Sanaki (extended script), Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn
|Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn|