Kellam’s infinite sadness

30 01 2013

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To know Fire Emblem is to know fear and to fear consequence. It’s that rare breed of game where fucking up actually matters and totally sucks, where you can’t easily undo an errant move and realizing you’ve probably screwed yourself over by losing a unit of which you’ve been so protective, and it’s all because of one simple rule: When they croak, they ain’t coming back.

I don’t play a lot of Fire Emblem for this reason. I hate to lose and I (mostly) hate when my mistakes are made permanent in games, and sometimes the series just makes my brains hurt between the demanded strategery and difficult names. Each unit has a name, a face and a backstory, and I don’t like being the one that doomed a family because I sent their ol’ pop over to a hill unprotected.

In Fire Emblem: Awakening there’s a guy named Kellam. He seems like a pretty okay dude, on the quiet side but with armor built like a tank. Silent but deadly. He joins your campaign early on and seems as eager as anyone to shove a lance through someone’s face in the name of peace, and thanks to Awakening’s buddy system had formed some solid relationships with other members of my wandering army. They fight better together.

Kellam was quiet and modest, often overlooked by the other members during story moments because it was funnier that way; his sprite had a tinge of sadness because of it. I  never sidelined him, though — since he joined early, he was one of my go-to dudes for tank work. I like to think that made him feel included.

I instructed him to break with the buddy system to fetch a shiny trinket on the corner of the map. Some enemies were there, but Kellam was in pretty good health if not spirit, and the battle was about at its tipping point in my favor, so I thought that he’d manage just fine. I thought he would, honest.

Through a terrible mix of faulty strategy and just plain bad luck, when the two enemies did attack he stood little chance. Kellam sure clobbered that first foe, not quite routing him but putting a good dent in the guy with a slight chunk taken off himself. It didn’t look like the second enemy would reach him, but Kellam was stubbornly within range and held no candle against a deadly hammer. Hammers are kryptonite to armor like Kellam’s, so when it fell Kellam was thwomped all the way to Valhalla.

I cursed quite loud. My bus buddies didn’t seem too pleased, but then again neither was I.

Kellam had fallen; his blood was on my hands. We had gone too far to turn back time and redo the battle, hence the cursing. With his last dying words, he pondered if anyone would remember him. I will.

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