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|Game Series||Fire Emblem series|
|First Appearance||Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance|
Ashnard is the main antagonist in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (for Nintendo Gamecube), and the king of Daein. Ashnard is unique amongst the villains within the game in that he is racially equalitarian, however, he is devoted to his elitist ideologies and he believes the strong must rule over the weak, evident in the treatment of his units, and the formation of the Four Riders—who are the greatest four Daein warriors (in which they are ranked according to ability.) His attitude towards life remains constant throughout, even until his death. Ashnard remains relatively unperturbed in the events preceding his demise, despite the warnings of his subordinates.In the game, he is commonly referred to as "King Daein" and "Mad King Ashnard". He wields a powerful sword that only he is capable of using named Gurgurant, and has sacred armor that is blessed by the goddess of the Fire Emblem world which was given to him by the Black Knight
Character and history
From birth, the possibility of Ashnard legitimately inheriting the Daein throne was minimal due to his position well towards the end of the line of succession. The commonly held belief amongst the people of Tellius was that all of the potential successors ahead of him died when a devastating illness fell upon the royal family. However, before the final chapter of Path of Radiance, Ashnard confesses to General Bryce; his longest serving unit, that he had slaughtered all legitimate heirs to the Daein throne to inherit kingship by force. Through his reign, Daein has become a militarily powerful and restless nation. He is considerably ruthless and cunning, and is widely reputed for being an excellent warrior who values strength above all else. Tales of single-handed slaughter are often reverberated across Tellius; which only enhance his notoriety and perhaps accentuates the fear of him. Under his rule, those with considerable strength were given prominent positions in Daein society, giving even citizens of low social stature hope through the chance to rise in power by proving their might to him.
Role in Path of Radiance
In the beginning of the game, Ashnard wages war upon Crimea; another beorc (human) nation, and subsequently captures the land and slaughters Lord Crimea. Crimea is then placed under Daein rule. Ashnard's main goal is to embroil the whole of Tellius in to war, battle, and ultimately, chaos.
To achieve this, he has gained control over the Goldoan (dragon), Nasir, via the capture of his grand daughter, Ena, whom Ashnard has employed as a general, despite her Goldoan heritage. However, he later orders her death as a consequence of her military failures. He wishes to use Nasir as a double Gallian-Crimean decoy to discover the whereabouts of Lehran's medallion, and to pilfer it for him. Ashnard wishes to conjure an ancient spirit within the medallion that had been sealed a long time ago. Furthermore, he co-ordinates the capture of the two Herons; Leanne and Reyson, to achieve his aim of the renewal of the legendary spirit. Apparently, he had once before acquired the medallion and Reyson's older sister, Lillia, shortly after the Serenes Massacre, but Lillia became too weak and died, it is implied that this was a result of poor treatment from Ashnard. It is speculated by the protagonists that the assassination of the Begnion apostle, the framing of the Herons and the resultant massacre was all part of a complex plan just to acquire the medallion.
Ashnard is fortunate in being gifted with the command of the enigmatic Black Knight, a powerful general who can utilise his arcane powers to teleport at will. Although Ashnard commands the Black Knight, he remarks to Petrine how he would like to test his strength against the Black Knight one day. The Black Knight eventually captures Leanne despite the protection and vigil of Tibarn (the hawk king) and the hawks. However, his plans are marred when Ike's mercenaries (and allies) perform an invasion on Daein which spans most of the chapters throughout the game. Eventually, after the consecutive defeat of the Four Riders (or three, at the exclusion of Bryce, depending upon the player) Ashnard is eventually defeated by Ike's group with the help of either Giffca, Tibarn or Naesala. It is later revealed that Ashnard's supposed stead, Rajaion, was actually a Goldoan dragon who had once been engaged to Ena. Ashnard fulfills the archenemy archetype in attempting to summon an incredible being, similar to Lyon and Nergal, from previous Fire Emblem installments.
In the "Difficult" setting of Path of Radiance, Ashnard will grasp Lehran's medallion when defeated at the end of the game. Unlike most people who touch it, Ashnard does not go berserk, but instead retains his sanity while significantly growing in power. Even so, the game's final chapter ends when he is killed, with the help of either Giffca, Tibarn or Naesala.
- Ashnard wields the sword Gurgurant. The name Gurgurant is a reference to Arthurian mythology. Gurgurant was a cannibal whose son was slain by a giant who in turn came to be slain by Sir Gawain. Gurgurant and his followers then ate the son's corpse.