Fire Emblem Arcs: Dimitri’s Fall and Redemption

“I am a murderous monster. My hands are stained red. Could one such as I truly hope for such a life? As the sole survivor of that day, do I… Do I have the right to live for myself?”

Dimitri Alexandre Bladdidyd, leader of the Blue Lion house and crown prince of the Kingdom of Faerghus, is a complicated young man. In some ways, he’s an ideal hero: kind, idealistic, with a strong sense of justice. He back to earlier Fire Emblem protagonists like Marth from Shadow Dragon. But when Dimitri steps onto the battlefield, he kills with insatiable bloodlust. His sheer strength and brutality with the lance are so terrifying that he’s been given the nickname “The Wild Boar”. Deep down, Dimitri is traumatized from the horrors of war, the endless voices of the dead inside him, and the murder of his entire family when he was a child. His route, Azure Moon, is about his quest to overcome his trauma, and, if not shut out the voices completely, at least find a way to live with them.

banner art is by the fantastic yue. SPOILERS for the entire Azure Moon route incoming!

Dimitri was born the oldest son of King Lambert of Faerghus, with all the royal responsibilities that came with it. He was a shy kid, and had a hard time fitting into the complex social web of royal society. But he did have one friend: a young Princess Edelgard, who briefly visited him while briefly in exile from the neighboring Adrestian Empire. Although neither of them knew it, they were actually step-siblings. Edelgard’s mother was a courtesan who had fled the Empire during an attempted coup, and married King Lambert under a new name. Dimitri grew quite fond of Edelgard, and before she went home, he gave her a dagger to “cut a path” in her own life. (He gets embarrassed about how terrible of a gift-giver he is, which is adorable in its own way.)

Sadly, Dimitri’s innocent childhood was cut short in the Tragedy of Duscur. The entire royal family was assassinated by a shadowy organization known only as Those Who Slither In the Dark (or, as I call them, Slithering). Dimitri’s uncle became regent, and royal uncles are never a good sign. He blamed the whole incident on the northern land of Duscur, and Faerghus launched a brutal genocide against its people. Dimitri knew Duscur was innocent and pleaded to end the slaughter, but no one would listen. Dimitri became haunted by the voices of his dead loved ones, talking to himself in the dead of night. The one thing that kept him going was Dedue, a native of Duscur who Dimitri rescued from the tragedy. But really, it’s Dedue who saves Dimitri, both literally and in a more spiritual sense.

I hope you realize by now, half the reason I love this game so much is all the gay ships. Art by Fjör

All this backstory, and we haven’t started the game yet! Once you start the game with the Blue Lions, Dimitri is sweet as pie. He’s warm and welcoming to all the students of his house, and treats rich and poor folks equally. Some of his early supports are wholesome AF, like when he teaches Mercedes how to swing a sword or tells Ashe not to give him fancy titles even though he’s a prince. But as he discovers the secrets of Slithering and the mysterious Flame Emperor who works with him, Dimitri starts losing it.

This boils over when it’s revealed that the Flame Emperor, the one responsible for (as he believes) the assassination of his family, is actually Edelgard. She manipulated her closest friends and family, and sacrificed countless innocent lives, all to declare war on the Church of Seiros and conquer Fódlan as the new Adrestian Emperor. When her mask comes off, Dimitri snaps, abandoning his lofty dreams of uniting Fódlan and wanting nothing more than to sever Edelgard’s head in revenge.

You okay dude?

For five years after, Dimitri lives, as he puts it, like “a walking corpse”. Faerghus is easily conquered, and Dimitri is imprisoned, only to be set free when Dedue apparently sacrifices himself. (Make sure you did Dedue’s sidequest in Part 1, or he actually does die!) As a fugitive presumed dead, Dimitri wanders the continent wantonly slaughtering Imperial soldiers. Sure, he gets a dope eyepatch out of it, but the carnage does nothing to ease his broken soul. This leads to an undignified death in Claude’s route, where he leads his army into a massacre and is killed offscreen pursuing Edelgard. In his own route, Dimitri reunites with Byleth and the rest of the Blue Lion house, but it’s still not enough to bring him out of his violent stupor. In his darkest moment, he almost tortures a captured Imperial general to death before Byleth is forced to intervene.

One of the few people who can get through to Dimitri at this time is his father’s old friend Rodrigue, who gives the boar prince the legendary spear Areadbhar. With their leadership, the Kingdom takes back their old lands. But life isn’t done tormenting Dimitri just yet: that Imperial general had a kid sister. She shows up out of nowhere and tries to stab him, but Rodrigue steps in and sacrifices himself for his king. Honestly, the way this plays out feels contrived, but it still tugs at your heartstrings. Dimitri finally realizes that his revenge quest has not only destroyed his life, but the lives of others as well. In his dying words, Rodrigue tells Dimitri not to feel guilty the deaths of his family. They didn’t die because of him. They died for what they believed in, and Dimitri should live for the same.

The next scene is my favorite in the whole game. Dimitri is beside himself with grief, having lost the will to carry on. He asks Byleth what they would do in his place, and what he still has to live for. Byleth simply offers their hand and tells Dimitri to live what he believes in. And in that moment, something in Dimitri changes inside. He remembers the ideals he fought for long ago, and returns to his people as the new King of Faerghus.

It’s easy to say Dimitri goes back to normal after this, but really, there never was a “normal” for him. He still hears the voices of the dead, and probably always will. But now, Dimitri feels at peace with them, and with himself. He has Byleth, Dedue, and the rest of the Blue Lions to rely on for support, and he even offers to make peace with Edelgard. Tragically, it’s too little, too late. She uses forbidden ancient magic to transform herself in a demon, in a desperate attempt to kill Dimitri once and for all. But the Kingdom wins in the end, and Dimitri gives the defeated queen one more chance to surrender peacefully. Edelgard’s response is to throw her dagger at Dimitri – the same one he gave her when they were kids, all those years ago – to force him to kill her and end the war once and for all. Both of them cut their own path in life, but only one could ever see it through to the end.

Dimitri comes full circle, from a kind-hearted yet naive young man, to a cynical, bloodthirsty antihero, to an older, wiser, more ideal king. His character arc deals with many issues: the corrosive futility of revenge, the problems with an overly black-and-white worldview, and the pain and stigma of mental illness. But it ultimately offers a message of hope, that even a bitter and broken man can turn himself around and become the hero he was always meant to be. Edelgard’s route is about challenging corrupt institutions, and Claude’s is about destroying the social and cultural walls that divide us. But Dimitri’s route is more personal, and it’s message is that no one has to carry the weight of the world alone.

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