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I'm very curious about what tomorrow's voting category is gonna be. It's the second and final paired characters. What else aside from dancing could fit two characters being paired?

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I must be crazy for actually liking Berkut, hahah.

Bit late, but I did vote for Berkut. I love his design, and his voice acting (bless Ian Sinclair<3), and that memory sequence where he and Rinea first met was adorable. He is a complete ass, but considering he was driven mad for power, to the extent where he used Nuibaba's mirror...eh, it ain't the worse twist I've seen.

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6 minutes ago, Lau said:

I must be crazy for actually liking Berkut, hahah.

Bit late, but I did vote for Berkut. I love his design, and his voice acting (bless Ian Sinclair<3), and that memory sequence where he and Rinea first met was adorable. He is a complete ass, but considering he was driven mad for power, to the extent where he used Nuibaba's mirror...eh, it ain't the worse twist I've seen.

Nah, you aren't crazy; I'm just making a bit of fun of how the game treats him; which can be funny compared with pretty much every other villain in the game xD

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2 hours ago, Fire Emblem Fan said:

I'm very curious about what tomorrow's voting category is gonna be. It's the second and final paired characters. What else aside from dancing could fit two characters being paired?

Best couple seems obvious. Maybe too obvious. Could be siblings. Or rivals perhaps. Or even just friends. Really it could be anything. Best Christmas decorations.

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I forgot Caellach, Brunnya and Murdock don't interest me, I can't even count Edelgard while I've only finished VW, I wish Hans had gotten more to do, Berkut is irredeemable in the end (Hell I'm of the opinion he hallucinated that vision), Hardin and Eremiya could fit the bill, Lyon's a whole other kettle of fish that I could technically count, but....

I voted Mustafa. Because he's a man who I could never hate.

Also, to the person who voted Nergal I admire your moxie in this day and age.

Also, Canas would be a fantastic professor and Inigo and Olivia are trained dancers, they'd do a duet well.

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9 hours ago, Gregster101 said:

You guys still haven't convinced me how Iago and Hans are better than Berkut in any meaningful way. Let me enjoy Berkut without acting like he's literally worse than Iago and Hans.

This was never what I tried to do. I will never try to convince that one character is better than the other for someone. Everyone have your own taste and I respect it.

What I was explaining is the character's importante for the plot of the game.

Berkut is a better written character that Iago and Hans will ever be, but the Fates Villains are way more important for their games story than Berkut is for Echoes story.

And I am not saying "lets swap this character for a generic character", I am saying "lets remove this character and continue the story without it". You can remove Berkut from Echoes, and the plot continues without any problem. You remove Iago or Hans from Fates, and the plot changes.

That's all I was trying to explain.

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10 hours ago, Jotari said:

The thing is Fates needs a generic brigand type boss character for the plot they're trying to tell. This is especially true in Conquest where they need "bad" Nohrians to contrast the "good" Nohrians of the playable characters. Chapter 13 especially requires Hans existence. Revelations being the plot that requires Nohr the least is also the one that dispatches the two of them the earliest (but even there it's best to have some kind of established character to serve as a boss to end the first act of the game before heading to Valla). Now you could say that it's bad to have "bad" Nohrians that basically absolve Corrin and co from all the misdeeds that playing as Nohr should entail, and I'd agree, but that's an issue with the story itself, not with Hans or Iago.

I think the solution to this would have been to make Hans less like a generic prologue bandit and more like Caellach. 

Caellach shares his role with Hans in that he's an outside force who's willing to get his hands very dirty for his personal advancements. The difference is that Caellach also has a design and a personality to go along with it while Hans is just a prologue bandit with more screentime. Giving Hans some traits aside from being a bandit would already do plenty to elevate him. There's this twitter image the Fates artist drew of Hans. Its him dressed in a nobleman's outfit with a very fancy wig. That would actually be very good, a former bandit ''intruding'' on the nobility, failing to emulate them and being the very definition of a parvenu. 

I can't find the image with the wig but this also does the job. It very much looks like a bandit who only very recently became very rich. 

latest?cb=20170217003809

Edited by Etrurian emperor

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@Etrurian emperor

See, I see that image and I'm just really impressed by the foreshortening of that leg, and those shoes. Also the table layout, which you have to take a second look at to notice how rough it is. This is clearly very skilled artist and I say "skilled" instead of "talented" because this level is only achieved through study and practice. Even more so since this is still a rough piece, but is very well-composed. It's obvious someone experienced in the industry drew it.

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I don't remember seeing that art before, weird... Why did Kozaki draw Hans so huge compared to those girls though? His size compared to them is unrealistic. But then again, I never did care too much for Kozaki's style.

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This was a hard choice voting category. I had to think carefully by my choice. I was tempted to vote for Kempf, Arvis, Hardin, Rudolf or Mustafa. I decided to wait a while, finally Arvis got my vote. 
I hope that they will do something odd tomorrow, I have no idea what they are planning. 

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3 hours ago, Etrurian emperor said:

I think the solution to this would have been to make Hans less like a generic prologue bandit and more like Caellach. 

Caellach shares his role with Hans in that he's an outside force who's willing to get his hands very dirty for his personal advancements. The difference is that Caellach also has a design and a personality to go along with it while Hans is just a prologue bandit with more screentime. Giving Hans some traits aside from being a bandit would already do plenty to elevate him. There's this twitter image the Fates artist drew of Hans. Its him dressed in a nobleman's outfit with a very fancy wig. That would actually be very good, a former bandit ''intruding'' on the nobility, failing to emulate them and being the very definition of a parvenu. 

I can't find the image with the wig but this also does the job. It very much looks like a bandit who only very recently became very rich. 

latest?cb=20170217003809

Well you won't have to do try hard to convince me Calleach is a better character than Hans. In my opinion Calleach absolutely carries the villains in Sacred Stones.

2 hours ago, Mercakete said:

@Etrurian emperor

See, I see that image and I'm just really impressed by the foreshortening of that leg, and those shoes. Also the table layout, which you have to take a second look at to notice how rough it is. This is clearly very skilled artist and I say "skilled" instead of "talented" because this level is only achieved through study and practice. Even more so since this is still a rough piece, but is very well-composed. It's obvious someone experienced in the industry drew it.

Foreshadowing for what? Remind me.

Edited by Jotari

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Hmm... Camilla, Loki, Edelgard, Plumeria...

Think I will go with Plumeria.

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@Jotari

Foreshortening, not foreshadowing. Foreshortening is an artistic term for making something appear closer or further from the viewer. It involves layering objects (in this case, for example, his foot is in front of his calf which is in front of his thigh) and shortening or lengthening lines in addition to changing the sizes of objects in relation to how close or far away it is from the viewer. Artistic perspective.

@Gregster101 @Lau

I actually agree with you guys in that Berkut was amazing. SoV was well-written in general, but I love how you can see the "why" behind most of the villains' actions. They're not "evil because evil" or "evil because plot convenience." They each have their reasons (mostly. It's not like we get to see how Jedah became how he is, but we do, at least, get a basic answer.) And, more importantly, they all make sense.

Time for Merc's expose on the SoV (main) villains!

Duma is the catalyst. It's a natural thing for dragons who live too long to go insane. (This is what was happening to Duma and Mila. As for it being a natural thing, we need to look outside of this game to see that. In Fates: Conquest, the Rainbow Sage warns Corrin of this, though in relation to himself. He does this to assuage Corrin's grief just before he (the sage) dies.) Duma and Mila may be powerful, but they lived a long time, and were losing touch with reality. So, killing Duma brings him to rest, and is actually an act of mercy. (Eir would be proud.) He can't help all the bad stuff resulting from his insanity because he's insane. When you don't have a sound mind, you don't act as you would normally, so even common-sense stuff like "don't eat people's souls" doesn't occur (especially as he seems to need them to act as a sort of life support for himself.)

Jedah is a devout Duma-worshipping extremist. He firmly believes in Duma's authority, and is devoted enough to have sacrificed his daughters to him. Being the main connection to Duma, he noticed when Duma began to slip and that scared the heck out of him. So, his devotion was redoubled and that kicks off most of what happens in SoV. He's also a threat to infant Alm because Duma comes first, and Alm's existence posed a threat to Duma. Jedah is no stranger to the foretold, so he knew very well what to look out for. Thankfully, so did...

Emperor Rudolf. When Alm was born, Rudolf saw the brand on the back of Alm's left hand and knew the prophesy associated with it. Also knowing that the Duma-worshipers would want to kill Alm, he sent him away and kept his existence a strict secret. It was a difficult thing for him to do, but he wanted to protect his son above all else, and he couldn't very well banish or execute the Duma Faithful since they kept Rigel in connection to their patron deity. Of course, he worried for Alm's future, and did everything he could to protect it, including becoming the foe that Alm would need in the future. Unfortunately, this natural concern and careful secrecy had a very unfortunate side-effect.

And that, my friends, brings us to Berkut. Poor, tragic Berkut, who was set up to fall... He's a very complicated one, so this may take a few paragraphs.

First, to understand him best, we need to look at his background, starting with his culture. He grew up as a royal in Rigel: a country founded by Duma, who desired not to coddle humanity, but to make them strong. So, he (Duma) wasn't concerned with their comfort like his sister (Mila) was. The land and climate were harsh, and the primary cultural value was strength. Being a royal, your country's culture is fed to you in much more concentrated doses it is for the general populace. They're drilled into you deeply, because you need to uphold them to maintain your country's identity. Further, because Alm was kept a strict secret (but Rudolf always intended for Alm to ultimately succeed him) Berkut was raised as the next in line to be Emperor. So, he was schooled on the Duma faith and the importance of strength. Though he wasn't a member of the Duma Faithful, Berkut showed a practiced understanding and adherence to their country's faith (shown in his conversation with Nuibaba where he argues that true adherence to Duma's intent for humanity is to develop your own strength instead of relying on power you did not earn yourself. At this time, Berkut was still in his right mind, and this reflects his true beliefs. However, an important thing happened in this conversation, but I'll cover that later.) (By the way, Nuibaba's motives and such for things is basically Jedah lite. No, she does not get her own section; I'm busy spelling out Berkut here and already explained her just now.) Being one who holds a true belief in strength, Berkut adhered to it, and devoted himself to becoming strong. This occurred well before the events of SoV, and it was even noted that he often set out on military campaigns even within his home country. He was a hard worker to the point of near-obsession, but this wasn't only because of his personal beliefs. It was because of his rearing. He was being groomed to be the next emperor. But even then, it goes beyond that.

There is also the factor of childhood influences. He wasn't just meeting expectations and pursuing his own beliefs; he was trying to win his uncle's approval. Berkut had always had great respect for Emperor Rudolf. He always spoke highly of him, defended him when someone spoke poorly of him, and took a willingly humble position when speaking with him directly. He always did his best to be the person his uncle wanted him to be, and he won victory after victory to try to please him. This probably only made Emperor Rudolf feel worse since Berkut was trying so hard, but he (Rudolf) couldn't tell him (Berkut) about Alm. Berkut would never be emperor, despite all his efforts, but Rudolf couldn't tell him that, or Alm's life would be in jeopardy. So, Rudolf, preoccupied with the weight in his heart, never expressed the approval that Berkut was so desperately trying to win. Berkut thought that if he could somehow become the ideal son that Rudolf never had (because it was thought that Rudolf never had any children of his own, and Berkut was as close to a son as Rudolf had, to the point of being raised by him, according to game text) that he would one day win over his uncle. One day, he would be strong enough, or have enough military victories, or be prestigious enough (all the things expected of him as the next emperor of Rigel, and thus, all the things that he thought would win over Rudolf) to impress him. And so, he worked and worked toward that goal, putting everything he had into it, wondering when it would be enough. The poor guy couldn't possibly know (since he was never told) that it was simultaneously unnecessary (because Rudolf really did already love him and was impressed by him) and would never be enough (because the throne would be going to someone else regardless of his achievements.)

These two factors and the situations surrounding them are the most important keys to understanding Berkut. They are his core. They make up his identity, and they are the longest-standing values and desires that he has. It's also important to note that he hates trickery and cheap tactics (this goes with the strength value thing) including deception. He may be arrogant, but he doesn't fight dirty, and he's disgusted by underhanded or unfair tactics (which is half of why he didn't like the Duma Faithful. The other half was because, as mentioned, it was his belief that strength should come from oneself, not from some other being. More on that later.) One other important thing is that he does truly love Rinea. She provides support and succor for him when the rest of his life is filled with (in his perception) unmet goals and unattained approval. Life is hard for him, and she's a gentle soul who enables him to rest from all that, even if only for a little while. This is important to remember later.

Okay, now that we've established who Berkut is, what's important to him, and what he can't abide by, it's time to watch the events of SoV from his point of view. This is critical to understanding his actions later.

Berkut invades Zofia. It's not too hard a victory since Zofia prized comfort and pleasure over strength. So, Desaix switched sides readily. Berkut takes Zofia castle, unable to really take the country seriously. And then the Deliverance shows up. By then Fernand (who I'll cover later) has switched sides, and informed Berkut about them, including Alm's supposed heritage. Berkut is disappointed in Clive for handing the Deliverance over to a commoner (Clive's reputation had even reach ed Rigel.) So, he figures that this group of Zofian rabble will be defeated easily since, well, they're a group with a bunch of people without an education or formal combat training mixed in, and they're Zofian. If the Zofian main military couldn't put up a fight, how would these guys be able to? They won, however, and this impressed Berkut. Being a seasoned military commander, though, he recognizes that he can't hold the castle with the forces currently available to him and retreats.

Next is the battle in the Forest Crossroads. Berkut's got it into his head that Alm and his company put up a good enough fight that they may be interesting to oppose. So, he decides to make sport of them and see how they do against him, himself. He didn't realize he was opposing destiny, though, and to his utter shock, the Zofian rabble actually defeated him. Given the factors involved, surely it was a fluke, right? It wasn't like he was giving it his all anyway, because he didn't think he had to. Either way, it was offensive. Losing, especially to people like this, was a stain on his reputation: something that an aspiring emperor could not stand. Besides that, he worried what his uncle would think. He wanted to impress him, and this (in Berkut's perception) was taking a step back from that. Being an experienced military leader, however, he knows when to withdraw. So, he does so. And, as much as he dreads it, he has to tell his uncle about this.

When he gets back home, news of his loss (while engaging in combat for sport, no less) has already reached Emperor Rudolf. Berkut owns up to it, and is eager to rectify his error by defeating the Deliverance. This is partially goaded from Jedah, who is forming something of a competition of ideals with Berkut. Berkut believes that strength must be attained by an individual's effort, but Jedah believes that power can come from Duma directly, and makes the unsaid claim that his way is more effective. Berkut opposes this, and sees it as a threat to his standing in his uncle's eyes. (Really, Rudolf is being careful. His motives were described earlier, but basically, he needs to look like he's actually trying to invade Zofia in order to guide Alm into his destiny.) So, Berkut asks to redeem himself and is given permission to wait at the border in case the Deliverance makes it past the sluice gate. It's granted to him, but his credibility had already suffered. He's really beginning to dislike Alm, seeing him as the thing standing between him and his goals (i.e., Rudolf's approval. Again, he doesn't realize that he already has Rudolf's approval, but he is right that Alm is in the way between him and his goals. He just doesn't understand why yet.) Then, (after a brief talk with Rinea) he has a chat with Nuibaba. This is where he expresses his own faith in Duma, his stance on his teachings of strength, and his opinion (which is disdainful) of the Duma Faithful. This exchange is also more vital to Berkut's development than it may seem. Nuibaba gives him a mirror which contains some of her magic. He refuses it at first, but she convinces him to take it as a failsafe. If he did not take the mirror (and especially if he did not have the conversation with Nuibaba), Berkut's trajectory would have been vastly different, and I will explain why later. Anyway, Berkut and his forces set out for the border once again.

Sure enough, the Deliverance makes it to them. Berkut fights them, still fairly certain that his forces are superior. This time, though, he's more careful, recognizing that this group does have some merit. Even so, he's beginning to focus on Alm, setting the blame for his uncomfortable position on him. He doesn't hold back this time...but he's still defeated. Now, he's beginning to hate Alm and his heart is filled with dread, because he will have to tell Rudolf about his failure, and in Rigel, second chances are rare...and this would be a third time he's failed at stopping the Deliverance. He's desperate, unable to stand the idea of losing the border to Zofian commonfolk. It's disgraceful. His reputation and by association, his uncle's reputation are being dragged through the mud: a double blow to his pride, as he prizes both his own and his uncle's honor. Actually, a triple blow, since they represent Rigel. Berkut is so staunchly opposed to losing yet again that he is driven to use Nuibaba's mirror. Now, this is important. Using the mirror goes directly against Berkut's values. He does not resort to tricks (he hasn't needed to in the past, and he's disgusted with the idea.) But Alm is threatening the things that Berkut values the most: his reputation, his uncle's reputation, his country's reputation, his countrymen's faith in the throne, his uncle's faith in him (Berkut), the security of his country (his loss means that it was just successfully invaded), and his own credibility (especially since he's competing with the Duma Faithful for Emperor Rudolf's favor). With all of that in peril, he resorts to something he otherwise never would: the Duma Faithful's unholy magic. When you do something contrary to your values, it feels terrible and you hate yourself for it, but it also becomes easier to do it again. This is why Berkut taking the mirror, even as a failsafe, was the first step towards what is to come. That, and Nuibaba had planted the thought to resort to such things into Berkut's head during their conversation. At the time, it was staunchly dismissed (as they often are) but then, when the time came, it was waiting there...and Berkut broke the mirror, releasing the spell within. When he sees the spell, Berkut is horrified by it, even calling it "hideous." His values are still intact, but not quite as tight as they were before (not that he notices it yet.) He's disgusted with the magic that the Duma Faithful use, but even so, what was done was done, and he did it to protect what he cherished. A counterspell happens, and he's forced to retreat, but he's loath to do so. If Fernand hadn't convinced him that it would be better to keep on living, he would have kept fighting to the end to protect what he could not stand to lose. But, in the end, he listened to Fernand, and managed to retreat.

Berkut makes it back home, but is still railing at his loss. Rinea tries to help him feel better, but Berkut has lost too much face. He snaps at her, but still confides in her, so in the way, she is still managing to help him. Then, he hears Duma telling him to call to him. Rinea cannot hear him. This may be because Berkut broke the mirror, and accidentally established a connection between himself and Duma, but I think that it's because Duma could sense Berkut's desperation, and is offering a way out. Duma originally wanted humans to grow strong by working to become strong. When someone is desperately trying to achieve strength, Duma approves. But this is insane Duma. So, insane Duma incites strength in other ways, too. He just wants people to be strong at this point, whether it's the healthy way or the unhealthy way. He senses Berkut's desperation, and so offers his services. Berkut, however, is not yet to the point of being willing to go that far.

Finally, the Deliverance makes it to Rigel Castle. Emperor Rudolf decides to take to the field himself, leaving the castle in the care of Massena (captain of Emperor Rudolf's imperial guard), who knows Alm's true identity (because Rudolf just then told him.) Berkut begs his uncle for another chance to defeat the Deliverance, but Rudolf denies him. Though Rudolf's reasons remain within himself (he's trying to protect Alm and Berkut both by keeping them separate until it's safe for them to realize that they're cousins and hopefully would join forces, living at peace with one another), the answer he gives Berkut is because he (Berkut) blew his last chance already. Then, he goes further to call Berkut weak (which is really big for someone who prizes strength so highly, especially coming from someone Berkut respects so much.) Even as Emperor Rudolf leaves, Berkut calls after him, begging him first as a prince, and then as a nephew, but to no avail. Rudolf was trying to protect Berkut, even though he knew the agony Berkut must have been feeling in that moment. He probably thought (or hoped) that it would pass when everything came to light, but at least he was protecting Berkut and Alm's lives. That was all he could do. Nevertheless, everything that happened, including this, led up to what came next.

Alm kills Emperor Rudolf and learns that he is actually said emperor's son. Dazed and confused, those who remain in the castle have already been informed, and Alm is just as stunned by the revelation. Massena directs Alm to Mycen, who is waiting for him to tell him the truth of it all. In the throne room, Alm hears his story. One way or another (whether by eavesdropping on Alm and Mycen's conversation or having heard from Massena, who told everyone else in the castle, too, presumably) Berkut also finds out about what has really been going on all this time. This is his breaking point. The one Berkut sees as the source of his suffering up until this point turns out to be the son of the emperor, and thus is destined the throne he (Berkut) thought was his. The throne he had been fighting to be worthy of all his life: what he had thought had been his purpose. Worse, he abhors lies, and yet, everything he had grown up believing turned out to be deception. His uncle, whom he had held in such high esteem, had been lying to him all his life. Berkut was shattered. Everything he had stood on and believed in fell out from under him in an instant. And the one person they all had in common was Alm. Alm was already the object of Berkut's hatred, and now, it had increased to unimaginable loathing as Berkut's heart writhed in agony at the betrayal of the one he had tried to impress so hard for so long. In his eyes, his destiny was stolen, those he had thought he could trust turned out to be deceiving him, and everything he had been promised was being given to his most-hated enemy. Everything was thrown into question. If he couldn't trust his uncle, who could he? He railed against this fate, unable to accept such a reality. It was too much. He was so desperate and so filled with rage that he wandered blindly to the altar of Duma. He didn't even realize that he had been drawn there, but he was in a vulnerable position where everything he had believed in was in question.

The time had come. He had been prepped by everything that led up to this, and now was ripe for being taken in by promises of power and consolation. Duma, who had gone insane and was dying, could grasp another soul to feed on using Berkut in his chaotic state of mind. When in dire straits before, Berkut had broken Nuibaba's mirror, using Duma's power then. Now, when things were much more jumbled and emotionally charged, when reason was almost completely gone, and everything he believed in had turned against him, Berkut had nothing to stand on to keep him from falling. (If a connection to Duma had been established when he broke the mirror, it could have also been that some of Duma's unsoundness of mind was infecting Berkut, too, but again, I don't think that's necessarily what happened. I won't rule it out entirely, but Berkut was a mess enough to explain his actions without a Duma-infection.) Berkut hears Duma's voice again, and is much more willing to listen this time. However, Rinea shows up just then. Berkut begins to confide in her, as he usually does. She tries to console him, but Berkut is so confused by grief and doubt that he mistakes what she's trying to say (which is that she loves him regardless of his station) for having been in on the deception. Finally, the last person who he thought he could trust, he believes has turned on him. There is no longer anything holding him back from giving everything he has and everything he is toward trying to change his destiny back to what he had grown up believing it was. His sanity having been destroyed by his agony, Berkut gave the soul of his beloved to Duma in exchange for power in one final gambit against fate.

Eventually, Alm found Berkut in Duma's temple. In his insanity, and tainted by Duma's power, Berkut was beyond saving. Alm tried to reach out to him, but all Berkut heard were mocking platitudes. The fiery specter of Rinea was with him, but to Berkut, this was Rinea herself, only purged of falsehood. It was his intention to yet live out his dreams of ruling over all of Valentia as its emperor with Rinea at his side. Yet, he did admit to his actions, and as for an explanation, he claimed that power was the only thing that wouldn't deceive him or betray him. He was filled with fury and pain, even now. He really believed that he could claim the life he had dreamed of, and he fought for it with everything he had, but in the end, Alm defeated him once again. Now, Berkut was resigned to death, and his mind was still clouded by confusion and pain from his drastic shift in destiny. And as his life ebbed away, Rinea's soul was freed from Duma. One last time, she soothed and consoled Berkut. Though his consciousness was slipping into the next life to follow after Rinea, his mind was cleared. He realized the mistakes he had made out of pain and rage, and repented of them. For the short time he had left, he was himself again. Hearing Alm's voice, Berkut turned his attention to him again. He was conscious enough of the world he was leaving to give Alm a memento of his (Berkut's) mother and to encourage him to end Duma and create a new era for Valentia made by humans. And then, Berkut died the last victim of the reception of Duma's power.

Looking at everything in perspective, Berkut's story is an absolute tragedy. It really moves me, and as has been mentioned, Ian Sinclair did a masterful job of conveying the heart of the character through his voice. This is why I love Berkut as a character. His is just such a moving story. I feel so sorry for the guy: a true victim of circumstance.

Edit: Man, I got so wrapped up in Berkut's story (his is the most complicated out of all the villains' of SoV) that I forgot to talk about Fernand! Fernand is also a fantastic villain in SoV and I feel very bad for him, too. I'll edit him in later, though. This took a while.

Edited by Mercakete

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One thing that really frustrates me about Berkut's story is that he's so close to being the type of villain I'd love to hate. If the game properly portrayed his relationship with Rinea as horrifying (the most horrifying part of his story, really), I'd say they nailed it, but it does the opposite. In particular, Rinea comforting Berkut after their deaths - he didn't deserve that.

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35 minutes ago, Mercakete said:

@Jotari

Foreshortening, not foreshadowing. Foreshortening is an artistic term for making something appear closer or further from the viewer. It involves layering objects (in this case, for example, his foot is in front of his calf which is in front of his thigh) and shortening or lengthening lines in addition to changing the sizes of objects in relation to how close or far away it is from the viewer. Artistic perspective.

@Gregster101 @Lau

I actually agree with you guys in that Berkut was amazing. SoV was well-written in general, but I love how you can see the "why" behind most of the villains' actions. They're not "evil because evil" or "evil because plot convenience." They each have their reasons (mostly. It's not like we get to see how Jedah became how he is, but we do, at least, get a basic answer.) And, more importantly, they all make sense.

Time for Merc's expose on the SoV (main) villains!

Duma is the catalyst. It's a natural thing for dragons who live too long to go insane. (This is what was happening to Duma and Mila. As for it being a natural thing, we need to look outside of this game to see that. In Fates: Conquest, the Rainbow Sage warns Corrin of this, though in relation to himself. He does this to assuage Corrin's grief just before he (the sage) dies.) Duma and Mila may be powerful, but they lived a long time, and were losing touch with reality. So, killing Duma brings him to rest, and is actually an act of mercy. (Eir would be proud.) He can't help all the bad stuff resulting from his insanity because he's insane. When you don't have a sound mind, you don't act as you would normally, so even common-sense stuff like "don't eat people's souls" doesn't occur (especially as he seems to need them to act as a sort of life support for himself.)

Jedah is a devout Duma-worshipping extremist. He firmly believes in Duma's authority, and is devoted enough to have sacrificed his daughters to him. Being the main connection to Duma, he noticed when Duma began to slip and that scared the heck out of him. So, his devotion was redoubled and that kicks off most of what happens in SoV. He's also a threat to infant Alm because Duma comes first, and Alm's existence posed a threat to Duma. Jedah is no stranger to the foretold, so he knew very well what to look out for. Thankfully, so did...

Emperor Rudolf. When Alm was born, Rudolf saw the brand on the back of Alm's left hand and knew the prophesy associated with it. Also knowing that the Duma-worshipers would want to kill Alm, he sent him away and kept his existence a strict secret. It was a difficult thing for him to do, but he wanted to protect his son above all else, and he couldn't very well banish or execute the Duma Faithful since they kept Rigel in connection to their patron deity. Of course, he worried for Alm's future, and did everything he could to protect it, including becoming the foe that Alm would need in the future. Unfortunately, this natural concern and careful secrecy had a very unfortunate side-effect.

And that, my friends, brings us to Berkut. Poor, tragic Berkut, who was set up to fall... He's a very complicated one, so this may take a few paragraphs.

First, to understand him best, we need to look at his background, starting with his culture. He grew up as a royal in Rigel: a country founded by Duma, who desired not to coddle humanity, but to make them strong. So, he (Duma) wasn't concerned with their comfort like his sister (Mila) was. The land and climate were harsh, and the primary cultural value was strength. Being a royal, your country's culture is fed to you in much more concentrated doses it is for the general populace. They're drilled into you deeply, because you need to uphold them to maintain your country's identity. Further, because Alm was kept a strict secret (but Rudolf always intended for Alm to ultimately succeed him) Berkut was raised as the next in line to be Emperor. So, he was schooled on the Duma faith and the importance of strength. Though he wasn't a member of the Duma Faithful, Berkut showed a practiced understanding and adherence to their country's faith (shown in his conversation with Nuibaba where he argues that true adherence to Duma's intent for humanity is to develop your own strength instead of relying on power you did not earn yourself. At this time, Berkut was still in his right mind, and this reflects his true beliefs. However, an important thing happened in this conversation, but I'll cover that later.) (By the way, Nuibaba's motives and such for things is basically Jedah lite. No, she does not get her own section; I'm busy spelling out Berkut here and already explained her just now.) Being one who holds a true belief in strength, Berkut adhered to it, and devoted himself to becoming strong. This occurred well before the events of SoV, and it was even noted that he often set out on military campaigns even within his home country. He was a hard worker to the point of near-obsession, but this wasn't only because of his personal beliefs. It was because of his rearing. He was being groomed to be the next emperor. But even then, it goes beyond that.

There is also the factor of childhood influences. He wasn't just meeting expectations and pursuing his own beliefs; he was trying to win his uncle's approval. Berkut had always had great respect for Emperor Rudolf. He always spoke highly of him, defended him when someone spoke poorly of him, and took a willingly humble position when speaking with him directly. He always did his best to be the person his uncle wanted him to be, and he won victory after victory to try to please him. This probably only made Emperor Rudolf feel worse since Berkut was trying so hard, but he (Rudolf) couldn't tell him (Berkut) about Alm. Berkut would never be emperor, despite all his efforts, but Rudolf couldn't tell him that, or Alm's life would be in jeopardy. So, Rudolf, preoccupied with the weight in his heart, never expressed the approval that Berkut was so desperately trying to win. Berkut thought that if he could somehow become the ideal son that Rudolf never had (because it was thought that Rudolf never had any children of his own, and Berkut was as close to a son as Rudolf had, to the point of being raised by him, according to game text) that he would one day win over his uncle. One day, he would be strong enough, or have enough military victories, or be prestigious enough (all the things expected of him as the next emperor of Rigel, and thus, all the things that he thought would win over Rudolf) to impress him. And so, he worked and worked toward that goal, putting everything he had into it, wondering when it would be enough. The poor guy couldn't possibly know (since he was never told) that it was simultaneously unnecessary (because Rudolf really did already love him and was impressed by him) and would never be enough (because the throne would be going to someone else regardless of his achievements.)

These two factors and the situations surrounding them are the most important keys to understanding Berkut. They are his core. They make up his identity, and they are the longest-standing values and desires that he has. It's also important to note that he hates trickery and cheap tactics (this goes with the strength value thing) including deception. He may be arrogant, but he doesn't fight dirty, and he's disgusted by underhanded or unfair tactics (which is half of why he didn't like the Duma Faithful. The other half was because, as mentioned, it was his belief that strength should come from oneself, not from some other being. More on that later.) One other important thing is that he does truly love Rinea. She provides support and succor for him when the rest of his life is filled with (in his perception) unmet goals and unattained approval. Life is hard for him, and she's a gentle soul who enables him to rest from all that, even if only for a little while. This is important to remember later.

Okay, now that we've established who Berkut is, what's important to him, and what he can't abide by, it's time to watch the events of SoV from his point of view. This is critical to understanding his actions later.

Berkut invades Zofia. It's not too hard a victory since Zofia prized comfort and pleasure over strength. So, Desaix switched sides readily. Berkut takes Zofia castle, unable to really take the country seriously. And then the Deliverance shows up. By then Fernand (who I'll cover later) has switched sides, and informed Berkut about them, including Alm's supposed heritage. Berkut is disappointed in Clive for handing the Deliverance over to a commoner (Clive's reputation had even reach ed Rigel.) So, he figures that this group of Zofian rabble will be defeated easily since, well, they're a group with a bunch of people without an education or formal combat training mixed in, and they're Zofian. If the Zofian main military couldn't put up a fight, how would these guys be able to? They won, however, and this impressed Berkut. Being a seasoned military commander, though, he recognizes that he can't hold the castle with the forces currently available to him and retreats.

Next is the battle in the Forest Crossroads. Berkut's got it into his head that Alm and his company put up a good enough fight that they may be interesting to oppose. So, he decides to make sport of them and see how they do against him, himself. He didn't realize he was opposing destiny, though, and to his utter shock, the Zofian rabble actually defeated him. Given the factors involved, surely it was a fluke, right? It wasn't like he was giving it his all anyway, because he didn't think he had to. Either way, it was offensive. Losing, especially to people like this, was a stain on his reputation: something that an aspiring emperor could not stand. Besides that, he worried what his uncle would think. He wanted to impress him, and this (in Berkut's perception) was taking a step back from that. Being an experienced military leader, however, he knows when to withdraw. So, he does so. And, as much as he dreads it, he has to tell his uncle about this.

When he gets back home, news of his loss (while engaging in combat for sport, no less) has already reached Emperor Rudolf. Berkut owns up to it, and is eager to rectify his error by defeating the Deliverance. This is partially goaded from Jedah, who is forming something of a competition of ideals with Berkut. Berkut believes that strength must be attained by an individual's effort, but Jedah believes that power can come from Duma directly, and makes the unsaid claim that his way is more effective. Berkut opposes this, and sees it as a threat to his standing in his uncle's eyes. (Really, Rudolf is being careful. His motives were described earlier, but basically, he needs to look like he's actually trying to invade Zofia in order to guide Alm into his destiny.) So, Berkut asks to redeem himself and is given permission to wait at the border in case the Deliverance makes it past the sluice gate. It's granted to him, but his credibility had already suffered. He's really beginning to dislike Alm, seeing him as the thing standing between him and his goals (i.e., Rudolf's approval. Again, he doesn't realize that he already has Rudolf's approval, but he is right that Alm is in the way between him and his goals. He just doesn't understand why yet.) Then, (after a brief talk with Rinea) he has a chat with Nuibaba. This is where he expresses his own faith in Duma, his stance on his teachings of strength, and his opinion (which is disdainful) of the Duma Faithful. This exchange is also more vital to Berkut's development than it may seem. Nuibaba gives him a mirror which contains some of her magic. He refuses it at first, but she convinces him to take it as a failsafe. If he did not take the mirror (and especially if he did not have the conversation with Nuibaba), Berkut's trajectory would have been vastly different, and I will explain why later. Anyway, Berkut and his forces set out for the border once again.

Sure enough, the Deliverance makes it to them. Berkut fights them, still fairly certain that his forces are superior. This time, though, he's more careful, recognizing that this group does have some merit. Even so, he's beginning to focus on Alm, setting the blame for his uncomfortable position on him. He doesn't hold back this time...but he's still defeated. Now, he's beginning to hate Alm and his heart is filled with dread, because he will have to tell Rudolf about his failure, and in Rigel, second chances are rare...and this would be a third time he's failed at stopping the Deliverance. He's desperate, unable to stand the idea of losing the border to Zofian commonfolk. It's disgraceful. His reputation and by association, his uncle's reputation are being dragged through the mud: a double blow to his pride, as he prizes both his own and his uncle's honor. Actually, a triple blow, since they represent Rigel. Berkut is so staunchly opposed to losing yet again that he is driven to use Nuibaba's mirror. Now, this is important. Using the mirror goes directly against Berkut's values. He does not resort to tricks (he hasn't needed to in the past, and he's disgusted with the idea.) But Alm is threatening the things that Berkut values the most: his reputation, his uncle's reputation, his country's reputation, his countrymen's faith in the throne, his uncle's faith in him (Berkut), the security of his country (his loss means that it was just successfully invaded), and his own credibility (especially since he's competing with the Duma Faithful for Emperor Rudolf's favor). With all of that in peril, he resorts to something he otherwise never would: the Duma Faithful's unholy magic. When you do something contrary to your values, it feels terrible and you hate yourself for it, but it also becomes easier to do it again. This is why Berkut taking the mirror, even as a failsafe, was the first step towards what is to come. That, and Nuibaba had planted the thought to resort to such things into Berkut's head during their conversation. At the time, it was staunchly dismissed (as they often are) but then, when the time came, it was waiting there...and Berkut broke the mirror, releasing the spell within. When he sees the spell, Berkut is horrified by it, even calling it "hideous." His values are still intact, but not quite as tight as they were before (not that he notices it yet.) He's disgusted with the magic that the Duma Faithful use, but even so, what was done was done, and he did it to protect what he cherished. A counterspell happens, and he's forced to retreat, but he's loath to do so. If Fernand hadn't convinced him that it would be better to keep on living, he would have kept fighting to the end to protect what he could not stand to lose. But, in the end, he listened to Fernand, and managed to retreat.

Berkut makes it back home, but is still railing at his loss. Rinea tries to help him feel better, but Berkut has lost too much face. He snaps at her, but still confides in her, so in the way, she is still managing to help him. Then, he hears Duma telling him to call to him. Rinea cannot hear him. This may be because Berkut broke the mirror, and accidentally established a connection between himself and Duma, but I think that it's because Duma could sense Berkut's desperation, and is offering a way out. Duma originally wanted humans to grow strong by working to become strong. When someone is desperately trying to achieve strength, Duma approves. But this is insane Duma. So, insane Duma incites strength in other ways, too. He just wants people to be strong at this point, whether it's the healthy way or the unhealthy way. He senses Berkut's desperation, and so offers his services. Berkut, however, is not yet to the point of being willing to go that far.

Finally, the Deliverance makes it to Rigel Castle. Emperor Rudolf decides to take to the field himself, leaving the castle in the care of Massena (captain of Emperor Rudolf's imperial guard), who knows Alm's true identity (because Rudolf just then told him.) Berkut begs his uncle for another chance to defeat the Deliverance, but Rudolf denies him. Though Rudolf's reasons remain within himself (he's trying to protect Alm and Berkut both by keeping them separate until it's safe for them to realize that they're cousins and hopefully would join forces, living at peace with one another), the answer he gives Berkut is because he (Berkut) blew his last chance already. Then, he goes further to call Berkut weak (which is really big for someone who prizes strength so highly, especially coming from someone Berkut respects so much.) Even as Emperor Rudolf leaves, Berkut calls after him, begging him first as a prince, and then as a nephew, but to no avail. Rudolf was trying to protect Berkut, even though he knew the agony Berkut must have been feeling in that moment. He probably thought (or hoped) that it would pass when everything came to light, but at least he was protecting Berkut and Alm's lives. That was all he could do. Nevertheless, everything that happened, including this, led up to what came next.

Alm kills Emperor Rudolf and learns that he is actually said emperor's son. Dazed and confused, those who remain in the castle have already been informed, and Alm is just as stunned by the revelation. Massena directs Alm to Mycen, who is waiting for him to tell him the truth of it all. In the throne room, Alm hears his story. One way or another (whether by eavesdropping on Alm and Mycen's conversation or having heard from Massena, who told everyone else in the castle, too, presumably) Berkut also finds out about what has really been going on all this time. This is his breaking point. The one Berkut sees as the source of his suffering up until this point turns out to be the son of the emperor, and thus is destined the throne he (Berkut) thought was his. The throne he had been fighting to be worthy of all his life: what he had thought had been his purpose. Worse, he abhors lies, and yet, everything he had grown up believing turned out to be deception. His uncle, whom he had held in such high esteem, had been lying to him all his life. Berkut was shattered. Everything he had stood on and believed in fell out from under him in an instant. And the one person they all had in common was Alm. Alm was already the object of Berkut's hatred, and now, it had increased to unimaginable loathing as Berkut's heart writhed in agony at the betrayal of the one he had tried to impress so hard for so long. In his eyes, his destiny was stolen, those he had thought he could trust turned out to be deceiving him, and everything he had been promised was being given to his most-hated enemy. Everything was thrown into question. If he couldn't trust his uncle, who could he? He railed against this fate, unable to accept such a reality. It was too much. He was so desperate and so filled with rage that he wandered blindly to the altar of Duma. He didn't even realize that he had been drawn there, but he was in a vulnerable position where everything he had believed in was in question.

The time had come. He had been prepped by everything that led up to this, and now was ripe for being taken in by promises of power and consolation. Duma, who had gone insane and was dying, could grasp another soul to feed on using Berkut in his chaotic state of mind. When in dire straits before, Berkut had broken Nuibaba's mirror, using Duma's power then. Now, when things were much more jumbled and emotionally charged, when reason was almost completely gone, and everything he believed in had turned against him, Berkut had nothing to stand on to keep him from falling. (If a connection to Duma had been established when he broke the mirror, it could have also been that some of Duma's unsoundness of mind was infecting Berkut, too, but again, I don't think that's necessarily what happened. I won't rule it out entirely, but Berkut was a mess enough to explain his actions without a Duma-infection.) Berkut hears Duma's voice again, and is much more willing to listen this time. However, Rinea shows up just then. Berkut begins to confide in her, as he usually does. She tries to console him, but Berkut is so confused by grief and doubt that he mistakes what she's trying to say (which is that she loves him regardless of his station) for having been in on the deception. Finally, the last person who he thought he could trust, he believes has turned on him. There is no longer anything holding him back from giving everything he has and everything he is toward trying to change his destiny back to what he had grown up believing it was. His sanity having been destroyed by his agony, Berkut gave the soul of his beloved to Duma in exchange for power in one final gambit against fate.

Eventually, Alm found Berkut in Duma's temple. In his insanity, and tainted by Duma's power, Berkut was beyond saving. Alm tried to reach out to him, but all Berkut heard were mocking platitudes. The fiery specter of Rinea was with him, but to Berkut, this was Rinea herself, only purged of falsehood. It was his intention to yet live out his dreams of ruling over all of Valentia as its emperor with Rinea at his side. Yet, he did admit to his actions, and as for an explanation, he claimed that power was the only thing that wouldn't deceive him or betray him. He was filled with fury and pain, even now. He really believed that he could claim the life he had dreamed of, and he fought for it with everything he had, but in the end, Alm defeated him once again. Now, Berkut was resigned to death, and his mind was still clouded by confusion and pain from his drastic shift in destiny. And as his life ebbed away, Rinea's soul was freed from Duma. One last time, she soothed and consoled Berkut. Though his consciousness was slipping into the next life to follow after Rinea, his mind was cleared. He realized the mistakes he had made out of pain and rage, and repented of them. For the short time he had left, he was himself again. Hearing Alm's voice, Berkut turned his attention to him again. He was conscious enough of the world he was leaving to give Alm a memento of his (Berkut's) mother and to encourage him to end Duma and create a new era for Valentia made by humans. And then, Berkut died the last victim of the reception of Duma's power.

Looking at everything in perspective, Berkut's story is an absolute tragedy. It really moves me, and as has been mentioned, Ian Sinclair did a masterful job of conveying the heart of the character through his voice. This is why I love Berkut as a character. His is just such a moving story. I feel so sorry for the guy: a true victim of circumstance.

Edit: Man, I got so wrapped up in Berkut's story (his is the most complicated out of all the villains' of SoV) that I forgot to talk about Fernand! Fernand is also a fantastic villain in SoV and I feel very bad for him, too. I'll edit him in later, though. This took a while.

Thank you so much for typing this. This summary is why Berkut is my second favorite villain in all of Fire Emblem (behind only the Black Knight). His death scene is one of the very few moments in all of Fire Emblem where I actually cried.

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46 minutes ago, Othin said:

In particular, Rinea comforting Berkut after their deaths - he didn't deserve that.

Yeah, the only thing he deserved was getting gutted like the miserable creature he was. The only thing that scene does for me is that it comes off as actively insulting, though I suppose it was at least in character not that she really had one for Rinea the Doormat.

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My opinions on the other popular choices for this round:

Berkut: yea he's trash for how he treated Rinea. I like him as a villain but he's definitely not redeemable.

Arvis: now I love Arvis but can I forgive his actions? I don't think so. That betrayal is terrible. 

Edelgard: she can be considered antagonistic but she's no villain.

Lyon: close runner up to my pick tbh, he's a good kid with good intentions who strayed too far down a dark path.

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That's enough about the story of (insert villain here), unless you're singing Murdock's praises (hint: don't).

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13 hours ago, Jotari said:

Best Christmas decorations.

Leanne and Athos then.

  • Leanne is perfect for the angel to top the tree, or Rafiel can be it instead, Reyson is too skinny in dress and not pretty enough for it. Ashera is a third angel topper pick, but you better be nice when she can see you- she's an Elf On The Shelf who'll turn you into coal. 
  • Athos would make the best Santa. :Santhos:  But his student Pent would be great too. Or Lorenz, Dagdar, 6Bartre or Dozla- but Dozla can be the head elf too. Frost becomes Father Frost for a Russian styling b/c his name.
  • Don't even waste your time trying to convince me that Edel is the perfect Mrs. Claus, Mrs. Claus don't exist. Befana the Italian Christmas Witch does, and Niime has a monopoly on that role. -Except for Micaiah for a young Befana, and maybe Sara if the touch of lavender doesn't make her hair not white enough.
  • Shinon and Garret, the first reluctantly the latter willingly, are Krampus.
  • Gonzalez plays the role of the Abominable Snowman in the Bolway Theater production of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
  • Red and Green Cavs as Christmas Lights of course. Kieran and Sain shine the brightest of them all, Forde's is a bit dim for lack of effort.
  • Thinking of Sain, I for some reason can't help but think of Gatrie dressing up as a giant star to top the human Christmas tree comprised mainly of people in a choir. But Gatrie can't sing without murdering your eardrums, so he's told all he has to do is stand there and illuminate the not-so-silent night with his joyous for the world smile.
  • Inigo dresses as Jack Frost, wanting to nip at the ladies' noses. To help with that, he tries to drag Owain, dressed up as literal mistletoe, with him everywhere.
  • Anna dresses up as Lucifroz, and runs all the corporations trying to get you to betray the Spirit of the Holidays and spend all your money on unnecessary gifts and decorations.
  • L'Arachel probably trampled you on Black Friday, she didn't mean it, but she had to get that on sale and what luck she swiped the last one! And yes, bringing your horse into a store is allowed- so she says and no store manager will argue with her.
  • Fjorm, Gunnthra, Ice Loli, Ninian, Flora, and Felicia dawn the Northern European fashion for girls- lit wax candles in their hair. They sing a few songs you cannot let go of and out of your head even if they're dated by this point too.
  • Oswin and Gilliam stay low-key as giant Christmas balls.
  • Yarne is the Gingerbread Man and he hopes you cannot catch him.
  • Would Camus make a good Nutcracker, or Aran?
  • Rolf and Tauroneo star in Home Alone.
  • Marth and Caeda star in 25 days of Hallmark Christmas movies, yes, all of them.
  • Jubelo, Ricken and Nils participate in a movie about choir boys. Jubelo is worried about when his heavenly voice will break, Ricken wants it to happen already and doesn't like his squeaky voice he says, when he secretly does, and Nils is mixed about it. Ashe and Tobin are their post-puberty choir companions who helps them get through the anxiety and stress, and Shigure is the conductor of the choir. Claud is the bishop who bestows the boys with gold, silver, crystal, and Dragonstone bells after their splendid Christmas Eve performance.
  • Arvis plays Scourge in the Bolway production of A Christmas Carol. "Bah humbug!" becomes "Ba humburn!" in this version, and every time Arvis says it, the nearest Christmas decor instantly turns to ashes. Little Julius plays Tiny Tim- except the walking problem is replaced by periodic momentary Loptous possession.
  • Jakob doesn't dress up, he is head chef for the Christmas dinner, Lowen prepares the Christmas breakfast, and Mitama is put in charge specifically of the fried chicken.

 

And lastly, here are the Fire Emblem Rockettes!:

__catria_palla_caeda_ayra_est_and_7_more

 

 

...Sorry if I took this too far, but it's more fun to me than villain talk. I love the holidays. Promise I won't do any more, or put it in a more appropriate place instead.

Edited by Interdimensional Observer

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9 minutes ago, Anacybele said:

Why are there two Pallas? And why the heck is Finn there?

Finn -  a joke

Two Pallas - pretty sure one of them isn't Palla.  Just someone who looks a lot like her (Fury/Erinyes/that green-haired pegasus first-gen)

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12 minutes ago, eclipse said:

Two Pallas - pretty sure one of them isn't Palla.  Just someone who looks a lot like her (Fury/Erinyes/that green-haired pegasus first-gen)

Yeah, I think that's supposed to be Erinys since the one next to her is Annand / Mahnya.

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13 minutes ago, Tybrosion said:

Yeah, I think that's supposed to be Erinys since the one next to her is Annand / Mahnya.

That explains why I didn't recognize her.

I guess that's Lachesis on the other side of Mahnya, and then Miranda over between Ayra and Karin?

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1 hour ago, eclipse said:

That's enough about the story of (insert villain here), unless you're singing Murdock's praises (hint: don't).

I won't. Is it okay if I thank Gregster101 for the appreciation of the effort I put into that summary, though? I don't want to accidentally step over any lines...

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Well, that's just lazy design work. That other "Palla" literally looks like her twin.

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