As promised last week, my friends, here’s another entry on ensuring Wayward Son stayed canon-compliant with Fire Emblem 6 and 7, this time in much more detail, since I covered the generals previously. Some of this information might be in the notes in the chapters themselves, but for interested friends of the blog who haven’t read it, I thought these canon musings might be of interest for writers–though probably confusing for those who haven’t played the games. And on that note, there will be a TON of spoilers here, so watch out!
The canon concern I had when writing Wayward Son was time period. FE7 takes place in 980 A.S. (After the Scouring, the game’s calendar system). Now, in the main script, the hero Athos says he first met the villain, Nergal, “some five hundred years ago” (that is, around 480 A.S). He then says about two centuries passed before Nergal grew corrupted by power and was banished to the faraway country of Bern, i.e around 680 A.S. Now, Renault’s supports said he met Nergal and helped the evil sorcerer create his Morphs (artificial human slaves), and also that “Morphs” appear in texts that are centuries old (according to the friendly character Canas). Thus, I found it reasonable to set the story somewhere around 680 AS to 700 AS, which would fit the timeline Athos described as well as Canas’ statement that Morphs had been around for “centuries.” I thought I had some leeway with the dates, since they weren’t exact and I could give or take a decade or two, so I set the story in the late 600s, with Renault being a young man in his early 20s at the time, so I could portray him growing into a skilled mercenary over the course of a decade and then meeting Nergal (and losing his best friend) in the year 700 or thereabouts.
Now, since the story of Wayward Son took place so long before the games, I had a lot of leeway when it came to characterization. Until chapter 40 or so, every character was entirely my own invention (Original Characters, or OCs), except for Renault of course, and he was so different compared to his appearance in FE7 that he might as well have been an OC! My primary concern, therefore, was to make sure the world itself was in accordance with that of FE 6 and 7.
For chapters 1 through 10, this was pretty easy. I portrayed a medieval European world, and looked at maps and playthroughs of the two relevant games to ensure I knew where everything was. The early story took place in Etruria, and aside from a handful of locations (the capitol city of Aquleia, some bases and towns, etc,), no other large cities and such were mentioned. Now, it would be silly if a civilized country like Etruria had no cities aside from the capitol, so I took it to mean I would have a free hand in making my own ;D Thus, I made Renault’s hometown be Thagaste, situated at the crossing of two rivers not named or visited in the games. The name is of course taken from Saint Augustine’s hometown, but that’s a religious subject for a future entry ;D Other cities I made up include Nerinheit (named cause it sounded cool), Scirocco (named as a Gundam reference), and Lordsport (named just because), all of them in locations where the map of Elibe didn’t *say* anything was present, so I assumed anything I wanted could be present. ;D All of these places were described as typical medieval towns seemed to be, judging from the FE games.
With the geography out of the way, then came the more abstract stuff. Generally, I tried to keep the arms and armor of Renault and everyone else in keeping with what you saw in FE 6 and 7. They equipped themselves with Iron, Steel, and Silver swords; the latter is strongest in-game and I explained that by saying silver weapons were magically enchanted (IRL silver is terrible for weaponry). The characters also equipped armor appropriate for their classes–Heroes, for instance, had shields in the games, so I had the Hero Tassar (Renault’s mentor at first) wield a Silver Sword and a kite shield, along with the armor and spiky shoulder plates Heroes had in the official art. Generals were portrayed in these chapters somewhat differently than they were in the games, but I explained that through having more advanced armor being discovered by the time of the Elibe games, two centuries later. I also tried to have spells work just as they did in the games, with the standard Fire tome releasing a single fireball from over the caster’s head, while the more powerful ice tome, Fimbulvetr, blasted a huge column of ice from the ground. However, I had the main villain use it to create ice guillotines and stuff–somewhat diverging from canon, but I thought it was cool enough to include, and besides, the games never say Fimbulvetr *only* creates ice crystals, so I thought it reasonable to assume a magic master could put his own spin on things.
The last thing I tried to do was make sure I was canon compliant in terms of religion and gender. In FE7, the dominant religion, Eliminism, seems loosely based off of Catholicism, with priests upgrading to bishops and an emphasis on forgiveness (in the characters Raven and Lucius’ conversations, Raven says “I have not the strength to love mine enemy,” a quote from the New Testament, and also another character, Bartre mentions to Renault that priests “say Mass on Sundays”). While I’ll again describe my creation of Eliminism in a separate post, the main thing I took from canon was that the Eliminean clergy can be female and get married as well, with no scandal. Several female Clerics, like Serra in FE7, can be upgraded to Bishops, and subsequently marry male characters, and when the protagonist Eliwood of FE7 goes to talk with his mother, Eleanora, the player can see that she’s apparently a female Bishop as well. Given that the founder of Eliminism, Elimine, was a woman herself, I took this to mean that women could occupy high places in the Eliminean hierarchy, and wrote my characters (most notably Renault’s mother, the Bishop Monica, and yes, that’s another Augustine reference) accordingly.
The treatment of Pegasus Knights from the country of Ilia is also brought up in these chapters. I went from the character Fiora’s support conversations, where she mentions that Ilian Pegasus Knights are very expensive, since they’re so well trained, but also mocked as “vultures” among the rest of Elibe, since Ilia is so cold and poor that Pegasus Knights have to work as mercenaries to send money back home. The bit about the special Ilian herbal pouches, however, is my own invention, and something I should have mentioned in later chapters. And, of course, the way the Ilians are poisoned is a reference to how the main character Lyn’s parents died in the beginning of FE7, via poisoning the water supply. Though the game never says the bad water tasted “sweet,” I again thought it was left up to the player’s imagination and took that route.
Now, when chapter 10 rolls around, Renault and company visit Aquleia, so as I said in the previous entry, I relied on the FE6 manga (Hasha no Tsurugi) to get a clear idea of what the capitol and its palace looked like. I also tried to set the stage for a historical development. In FE6, we see that Etruria is governed by a Knight General, Great General, and Mage General, along with a Prime Minister. In my fic, however, we see only a Prime Minister, Paptimus. Subsequent developments are intended to explain why Etruria divided power between the PM and the Generals by the time FE6 rolled around. I suppose you could say that’s another goal I had with Wayward Son–to provide a historical background for the social structures we see in Fire Emblem 7 and 6. I hope I succeeded 😀
After chapter 10, I took some liberties with canon, mainly because I included references from everything to Gundam to Demon’s Souls XD Those are mostly fanservicey things, though, so hopefully my breaking from canon could be forgiven for that (along with my love of mecha, haha), In reference to the Eliminean hierarchy, however, I mainly relied on Fire Emblem 6, which implied both that each country in Elibe had its own Head Church, but there also existed a “Supreme Church,” and that the highest rank was an Archbishop. This was so vague I took it to mean that Archbishops were the highest prelates of each country’s Head Church, and that the Head Church of Etruria, being the highest church in the most civilized country of Elibe, would be what people referred to as the “Supreme Church,” and de facto more powerful than all the Head Churches. That’s my interpretation, and I think it’s fair to the canon, but other people’s interpretations are of course fine as well, and no more or less “canonical” than mine. XD
From this point on up to about chapter 40 (the halfway point of Wayward Son as a whole), there weren’t too many big canon concerns. Again, in the cases I disregarded established Fire Emblem canon, it was mainly for fanservice, like referencing Demon’s Souls or Shadow of the Colossus, hehe. Aside from those, I paid particular attention to making sure the very minor character Barim Reglay had the same hair color as Pent Reglay, his distant descendant in FE7. Over the course of this story arc, I also tried to provide a reason why one character, Khyron of Caerleon, would find a great deal of respect for the former Count of Cornwell, since in FE7, the houses of Caerleon and Cornwell were said to be good friends (Lucius, Raven, and Priscilla’s supports with each other). Finally, the little ritual Braddock performs with Renault is a reference to the same one Eliwood and Hector mention taking in their A Support.
The most I had trouble with was the opening narration in FE7 which says that Elibe had enjoyed “980 years of peace” after the Scouring. I thought this would have been impossible, because if everything was so peaceful there would be no knights, soldiers, etc. So I took that statement to mean that Elibe hadn’t been embroiled in a huge continental war, which my story acknowledged; the primary conflict was a Civil War contained in Etruria. I also included some powerful weapons from FE7, the Rex Hasta and Basilikos, which were much more powerful in the fic than they were in the game. I explained this by having Nergal take their power in a later chapter, which also explained why his Morphs had these special weapons in a depowered form.
Aside from that, some classes, like the Dark General and Black Knights, were not canon initially and entirely my own invention, but later games, from what I hear, actually did include mounted black magic users called Black Knights. Of course, none of the devs ever read my fic and it’s entirely coincidental, but I was tickled anyways 😀 I’ve heard of legal issues coming up over things like that, though…I can see now why a lot of authors tend to avoid fanfic when they can D:
In any case, the Dark General and his Black Knights meet their unfortunate ends, leaving the rest of our heroes to enjoy the fruits of victory–except for Renault and Braddock. In chapter 39, I describe how several of the”good guys” were ancestors of beloved characters from FE6 and 7 (again, while this keeps with canon, it’s just for wayward son and isn’t “official”), and also how the country of Etruria as a whole recovered from the war and indeed improved to become as prosperous as it was during the timeframe of the games.
And of course, right afterwards, Renault’s best friend Braddock dies “in battle,” and Renault mourns for him, exactly as Renault described in his supports with Isadora. ;_;
Chapters 41 through 48 involve Renault’s relationship with Nergal in the misguided belief that he could revive Braddock, and there’s a bit to be said there. Much of that relationship was left vague in the game. Renault just says he “helped” Nergal make the morphs, knowing that his own humanity would be sacrificed, and Nergal tells him (in the battle conversation they have) that Renault was his “experiment,” and also freely admits to creating a “soulless puppet” to replace Braddock.
First, I thought this was incompatible with a long held fandom theory, that Renault’s dead friend was the basis for another morph called Kishuna, whom you meet in some of the secret stages. Kishuna is described as having emotions, while Nergal explicitly states that what he gave to Renault was just an “empty vessel.” There’s also some conflict in the canon with Renault’s other supports. Canas says morphs are “centuries old,” implying Renault must be as well, which is backed up by the fact that Renault’s support with Wallace states he looks exactly the same in 980 as he did in 950 or so. However, it also implies that he met Wallace in 950 (about 250 years after Nergal was banished by Athos, and in my fic met up with Renault), and is further complicated by Renault’s confession in his A support with Lucius that he killed Lucius’ father in about 960 A.S!
I thus resolved these conflicts by having Nergal betray Renault fairly early on in the chronology, not long after they met in 701 A.S, by using Renault as an “experiment” to gauge how to create morphs. This experiment was successful, made Renault essentially immortal, and taught Nergal how to create more morphs, which he did and Renault was displeased with. I then had Renault wander across Elibe for 2 hundred years, still searching for a way to revive Braddock (and committing many atrocities along the way), but this time independent of Nergal. This allowed me to have him serve as a mentor to Wallace even after he had been turned immortal by Nergal, which would be the only way to accommodate how he was working as a mercenary 30 years before FE7 while his supports with Canas implied that he had been a mercenary “trying to bring back his dead friend” centuries ago.
The actual process of his redemption in chapter 60, where the ancient hero Bramimond forces him to confront his own sins, is entirely my invention. It was again, however, a way for me to reconcile the implication in his support with Isadora that he began to convert to Eliminism after his friend died with the bare facts in his other supports that he was a cruel mercenary (even killing the father of Lucius) for many years after Braddock’s death. Rather than interpreting what Renault said to Isadora as evidence that he had begun to follow Eliminism immediately or soon after Braddock died, I took it to mean that his best friend’s sacrifice planted the “seed” of faith in his heart, so to speak. That seed would not bloom until much, much later (centuries later), but its genesis would still be enough for Renault to credit it with his salvation when he later spoke to Isadora.
So those are the general canon concerns I dealt with when outlining the story past chapter 40. Specific things I incorporated:
Mentioning Nergal’s growing insanity in his diary entries Renault discovered in chapter 41, in accordance with what Athos said about Nergal slowly falling into darkness over two centuries.
Mentioning a “phylactery” in the next chapter as a storage for life essence, to explain why Renault has the green thing on his necklace in his official art. I paid attention to that too! 😀
In chapter 44, when Nergal dubs Renault his “research assistant,” I was thinking of Renault’s statement to Canas in their A support, where he says Nergal had “one assistant” when he began making his morphs. The fate of all the failed experiments explicitly refers to their B support, where Renault says Morphs “lost their way and wander.” I was also careful to have Nergal explicitly state what the consequences of his final experiment would be in chapter 48, even going so far as to say Renault would be “less than human,” to keep the story in compliance with Renault’s A support with Canas: He said he knew “full well” that Nergal’s experiments would make him “less than human.” On a narrative level as well, I didn’t want to give Renault an “excuse,” so to speak. While Nergal was never *entirely* honest with Renault, he never really deceived him either, making Renault entirely to blame for the atrocities he committed while serving the dark magician. I wanted Renault to be entirely to blame for accepting that twisted experiment as well.
I also added a bit of a monologue for Nergal when he creates the mindless Braddock-morph, both to refer to the battle conversation where he tells Renault that a “mindless puppet” was what he really wanted, and to make the sting of betrayal even harder.
The next chapter, Two Centuries, is pretty much all just me–I added some creatures that were never seen in the games, like a Phoenix and a plant monster, along with a reference to a “spring of Pyrene” in Ilia mentioned in another character’s support conversation. The only thing mentioned about that was that it was where Pegasi gathered, so I made Pyrene a (sort of) goddess, making her the mistress of the flock/herd of Pegasi there. Again, that’s not canon, but it’s in keeping with canon, IMO. The other canon concern for this chapter was a brief part at the end where Renault meets the hero Athos. The two characters are not at all implied to know each other in game, and making them acquaintances might have been a bit of a stretch, since there’s absolutely no proof they ever met at all. Still, I thought this slight bending of canon was ok, since it gave Renault an opportunity to see what the mysterious land of Arcadia (Athos’ village) was like.
Chapters 50 – 55 involve Renault’s relationship with both Wallace and Lucius’ father. Making it canon-compliant in regards to Wallace was easy enough; I just made Wallace’s appearance fairly slight and feminine (Wallace tells Renault that he was teased and called “a girl” as a youth), and his personality somewhat more timid and timorous to account for that. In terms of dates, in his support conversations Wallace says he met Renault when he was about 10 years old, which was “some thirty years ago,” in 980, meaning Wallace met Renault in around 950. That was straightforward enough…but when you take into account Lucius’ father, I had to do some explaining.
See, according to Lucius’ support conversations with Renault, the father of this much-beloved character (Lucius is really popular among FE fans due to his saintly kindness and generosity) used to be a famous mercenary. Lucius’ father died in a home invasion when Lucius was three. According to the official character ages given in the artbook (which I also consulted for canon purposes), Lucius was in his early 20s by the time of FE7 (980 A.S), so his father would have died at about the year 960, maybe a little earlier or later. Now, the thief who murdered him turns out to be Renault! Upon realizing this, Renault apologizes profusely to Lucius and says “I trespassed against many in my singular drive to regain the friend I lost.” So I had to account for several things: Renault was still up to his murdering ways fairly recently (until just about 20 years ago in FE7’s timeframe), but also met and mentored Wallace before he killed Lucius’ father, and more than that, he killed Lucius’ father as part of his quest to bring his friend back, even after Nergal betrayed him centuries ago–which you can infer from Canas’ implication that Renault is centuries old and helped Nergal create the morphs.
There were and are, of course, many ways to resolve this dilemma, but I resolved this by having Renault meet Lucius’ father while he was mentoring Wallace. It’s quite believable, since Lucius said his old man was a “famous mercenary.” I also portrayed Lucian (Lucius never mentioned his father’s name, so I gave him one that IMO made sense) as having access to a powerful secret that Renault thought would help bring his best friend back–meaning that Renault would be willing to kill to have it. After resolving the plot arc involving Wallace in 950 A.S, I had Renault attempt to fight Lucian fairly for possession of that secret, lose, but then be spared (foolishly) by Lucian, allowing Renault to search for the “famous mercenary” for ten years before finally finding him and killing him in 960, as Lucius described in the supports.
I think I did that well, and I’m generally happy with how I accommodated my story to what the game script said up to that point in Wayward Son. After chapter 58, however, I had to accommodate the story to something else: Renault’s redemption! Since, by the time we meet him in FE7, Renault is no longer a violent mercenary but a repentant Bishop of the Elimine church! My task from chapter 59 onwards was to convincingly portray Renault’s transformation from mercenary to Bishop within twenty years (from 960 to 980).
I suppose I’ll go into more detail about that in future entries on my interpretation of Eliminism, the main religion depicted in FE6 and 7. For now, I handled Renault’s changes through the method of ‘sudden revelation.’ The secret he stole from Lucian was a book containing the location of the Archdruid Bramimond, a dark magic user even stronger than Nergal who has the power to raise the dead (depicted at the very end of FE7). When he arrives at Bramimond’s abode, however, the Archdruid refuses his demands and defeats him easily, but doesn’t kill him. Instead, Bramimond forces Renault to re-live Braddock’s last moments, revealing that the man’s dying words were an admonition to live a peaceful life–meaning that Renault’s path of blood and murder across two centuries was *exactly* what his best friend didn’t want!
The revelation completely shatters Renault’s personality, collapsing the hatred, anger, and obsession that had driven him up to this point in the story, and leaving an empty void of despair and hopelessness. Following the end of chapter 59, Renault is too guilt-ridden and self-loathing to even pick up a sword, and only fear keeps him from killing himself. However, I also reasoned that when you’ve emptied a man of all the negative emotions, it’s easier to replace them with something positive, and something religious (I know some folks would say “or” something religious, but at this point in the story religion is portrayed as something positive).
Thus, I added a new mentor character into the story–Varek. This man is a pious religious hermit living just outside of Bramimond’s secret abode (A poignant way I thought of contrasting Bramimond’s darkness with Elimine’s holy light–and Bramimond is aware of this contrast in-story, unlike Nergal he’s portrayed as a benevolent dark magician, and has an interest in Elimine’s religion). After–forgive the meme, but it’s the best word–completely pwning Renault and demolishing his previous driving motivation and personality, Bramimond teleports Renault right in front of Varek’s doorstep. There, Varek takes the titular ‘wayward son’ under his wing, and Varek’s mercy (and his similarities to Braddock, in some way) show Renault the value of religion, eventually leading him to convert over the course of a few years. While Renault never becomes a fervent believer in God (again, to be described in my future entry on religion), his dedication to reforming himself as well as his firm grasp of the tenets and beliefs of Eliminism (for all his flaws, Renault is always portrayed as quite intelligent) soon make him an ordained priest in chapter 70 (965 A.S) and a full Bishop in chapter 73 (973 A.S).
There’s also an overarching plot arc in these chapters, though, that deserves a little explanation of its own. I thought there needed to be a little direction in this part of the story–an overarching goal rather than just sort of a “slice of life” thing portraying nothing but Renault’s mundane activities as he grew to be more religious. It didn’t really work out that well, as I’ll explain later, but it was my objective at the time. Another thing I was doing with both this arc and Wayward Son generally was having Renault exert a sort of subtle, behind the scenes influence on a lot of events, even those not mentioned in his supports with Canas or Lucius–nothing that would explicitly contradict canon, of course, but things like training the protagonist Lyn’s father in swordsmanship (Lyn’s father wouldn’t mention this to Lyn because his acquaintance with Renault was so brief in my story), meeting the adoptive parents of another character and making friends with them, that sort of thing. Renault’s secret influence on a lot of things, you could say–nothing to make him a BIG DAMN HERO, which would oppose my intent, but enough to make him more than entirely insignificant.
I thus embarked on another project like that for the story arc of chapters 60 to 79. See, one character in FE7, named Nino, had a mother (Iris) who possessed the “secret of the Dragons,” so Nergal killed her, along with her husband (Nino’s father), Juge. Nino also ended up having two kids, Ray and Lugh, who were good magic users in FE6, twenty years later. Since she had an antagonistic relationship with Nergal, sort of (though obviously not exactly) like Renault, I thought it’d be cool if their paths crossed, if only obliquely. Since Juge’s background was never expounded on, I posited him as an old but estranged friend of Varek’s, whom the hermit wanted to spend the last days of his life searching for, in order to give him an important message from his also estranged father. Renault, of course, went along for the journey! I made Varek, Juge, and Juge’s father have a falling out years ago, and Juge took efforts to hide his tracks so it would take nearly twenty years to for Varek and Renault to find him, at which point he’d married, sired Nino’s mother and aunt, and been killed by Nergal. By this point Varek had died of old age, and according to her ending in FE7, Nino and her husband also disappeared and likely died. However, to keep things from being too pessimistic, I had Renault deliver the letter from Juge’s father to Juge’s children, who at least were still alive by the time Fire Emblem 6 began.
So, even though this was a fairly convoluted plot arc, one that’s entirely absent from both FE7 and FE6, I think I still managed to make it faithful to canon. Yes, nothing in either of those games indicated Renault had anything to do with Ray and Lugh, but there’s nothing that said he didn’t, either. Since Juge’s backstory was so vague other than “being Nino’s father” and “belonging to a powerful house of magic users,” I could make up my own history for him as I saw fit, and work Renault into that story, and therefore the story of his descendants, without breaking canon. ;D
It was certainly a challenge, and one I think I met fairly well–but I’m even prouder of the way I met another writing challenge, this one peculiar to fanfiction, I’d wager. It was the canon conundrum of incorporating all of Renault’s support conversations into the story in a way that made sense!
To understand why this might have been a problem, you have to know how supports work in the Fire Emblem games. Essentially, a character can only have up to 5 support conversations total, with a C being worth 1, B worth 2, and A worth three (so you could have either 5 C rank conversations, 2 B rank conversations and a C, or 1 A-ranked support and 1 B, and so on). If I kept myself strictly within the game’s limitations, there was no way I could incorporate every single one of Renault’s possible conversations in my fic. So what I decided to do was to incorporate all of them…in different times and places, even after the actual timeframe of Fire Emblem 7!
The first thing I did was add an extra, non-canonical scene set during the final battle of Fire Emblem 7. Now, Renault in FE7 is a pretty weak character, most people leave him by the wayside with all the other weak characters and bring only their strongest units to fight the last boss, Nergal. This made sense in game, but you have to wonder what the rest of the army was doing. Would even the weaker fighters just stand around while the fate of the world was decided? I thought it made sense that they would have been given some other job. Thus, I wagered that Nergal would have sent all of his Morphs to come to his aid in the climactic battle (since he’s implied to have a nearly limitless amount of them), and it would be the responsibility of the army’s “bench-warmers” to keep them from breaking through. This gave Renault something to do without making him seem more powerful than he was in game (a concern of mine I’ll get to in another entry). It also let me incorporate all three of his support conversations with Wallace organically, as Wallace is also a relatively weak character and I could have him fight side by side with Renault. I took a bit of authorly license when I also tried to incorporate Renault’s battle conversation with Nergal–I had the dark sorcerer appear before him as an apparition, and they spoke their lines to each other just as they did in the game, except Nergal disappeared after setting his morphs on Renault. ;D
After that, I included another extra-canonical scene where Renault watched Athos and Bramimond pass away (which they did in FE7), after the rest of the army left the final arena–this was also in keeping with canon, IMO, since Renault’s ending stated he “disappeared as if he had never existed” after the last battle. But how to work in his supports with the rest of the characters?
I thought “disappeared as if he had never existed” referred to the suddenness and completeness of his disappearance *from the army,* not that he’d disappear forever and never be seen again anywhere. As some of you have no doubt gathered if you’re reading my story, Wayward Son doesn’t end with Fire Emblem 7’s conclusion, the story will end at the beginning of Fire Emblem 6, 20 years later. Thus, after Nergal’s defeat, I had Renault wander Elibe for several more years, having his support conversations in several different places. He chatted with Canas about Morphs in a small cafe in Ilia, discussed strength with Bartre in the Western Isles, spoke of mourning Braddock to Isadora in Lycia, and of course had two chapters devoted to reconciling with Lucius in chapter s 78 and 79. 😀
None of this was in the canon at all, of course, but IMO it’s still pretty faithful to that canon while living up to the expectations my readers had–they all wanted me to show off all the support conversations, after all! So I think I managed all that pretty well.
Right now, my main concerns are how to tie the story in convincingly with Fire Emblem 6. As of chapter 80 (which will be released on Sunday), it’s the year 990 and Renault is making himself useful in Bern. All seems well, but as anyone who’s played Fire Emblem 6 can tell you, in ten years Bern will go crazy and invade the rest of Elibe! How will I incorporate that chaos into the story of Wayward Son–which will also end at the same time? Wait and see ;D