Like a Lion

An Introduction

Welcome to Like a Lion, a small tribute to Stefan (Soanvalcke) from both Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance and Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Please note that all content here will be based on the English version of these two games, as that is what I am using for reference. Also, please be warned: because Stefan does not have a ton of depth in the games, there will be a good amount of my own speculation and opinion. If you are interested and would like to continue forth, feel free to keep scrolling down. Thanks for dropping by!


Version three of Like a Lion features Stefan's Radiant Dawn artwork. All other aspects of the layout were made by me in the Mac version of Adobe Photoshop CS5. Fonts that were not default with the program were downloaded from Dafont.

In Context

In Tellius there are two different races: beorc (humans) and laguz (animals that can take a human form). Ike, the protagonist of Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, is the son of the leader of the prestigious Greil Mercenaries. After Ike is finally allowed to become a mercenary, he ends up with more than he bargained for. He crosses paths with Elincia, the princess of Crimea, who's existence was never made public. The neighboring country Daein has attacked Crimea and murdered most of the royal family. Elincia wishes to flee to Gallia, as she believes she will find refuge there with King Caineghis, a lion laguz. Ike and the Greil Mercenaries decide to help Elincia on her quest to reclaim her rightful throne. The underlying picture is much deeper, however. The more that the people of Tellius fight, the brighter the sacred the Fire Emblem (a medallion heirloom in the possession of Ike's younger sister, Mist) grows. If war continues for much longer, it will awaken the Dark God that sleeps inside of it and bring judgment upon the continent.

Three years after the end of the previous game begins the story of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Daein, having lost the war with Crimea, is now in the possession of the neighboring country of Begnion as a result of Crimea's disinterest in reigning over another country. Partially due to the unrest in Begnion authority, the people of Daein have become oppressed by the Begnion Occupation Army. When almost all hope is lost, a small group called the Dawn Brigade appear and begin claiming victories to win Daein back once more. Their leader, Micaiah, is also known as the Silver-Haired Maiden who can create miracles. The Dawn Brigade joins with Prince Pelleas, the rightful heir to the throne of Daein and reclaims his country. Their victory is short lived, however, as Daein is forced to fight in a war they do not believe in as a result of leverage held by the Senate of Begnion. Micaiah and Ike's armies will clash a handful of times, each side fighting with losing not being an option. All the while, the Fire Emblem begins to shine even brighter...

Stefan 101

NAME: Stefan (ENG), Soanvalcke (JPN)
CLASS: Swordmaster (PoR), Trueblade (RD)
WEAPON LEVEL: S (PoR), SS (RD) [sword]
SKILL: Astra
ITEM: Vague Katti
An excellent swordsman found "playing hermit" in the Grann Desert, Stefan is a man of few words who values good swordsmanship. He is more of a mentor-type than a friend or companion. Though a self-proclaimed hermit with a dislike of both beorc and laguz, Stefan seems to be interested in sitting down and talking with various people (Mordecai/Lethe upon meeting, Ike at the end of PoR). Though he generally keeps to himself, he appears to have compassion for and a willingness to aid other Branded. Stefan does not act as if he places much value on his life and views battle as more of a competition of swords than a struggle to survive. In fact, if Stefan is defeated in Path of Radiance, he is simply impressed and mentions that losing to another is a moment that makes life worth living.

✘ Stefan is a completely optional character that is very easy to miss recruiting (see below for details).

✘ Stefan's mark that proves he is one of the Branded is located on his forehead, though we never actually see it.

✘ Soanvalcke is very similar to the name Soan, the lion laguz that fought alongside the goddess Ashera. His epilogue is titled as "Lion-Blooded Stefan," and he seems to have a cat-shaped buckle. It is possible that Stefan could be a descendant of Soan and therefore have lion laguz blood in his veins.

✘ If you recruit Stefan in Path of Radiance, there will be a base conversation in which there is an option for Stefan to hone Ike's unfinished sword style.

✘ Stefan lives in a small village in the Grann Desert where he has gathered others who are Branded. In his epilogue, it says that his tiny settlement eventually becomes a large country.

✘ Stefan calls the Grann Desert "his" as well as stating that if someone attacks other Branded in the desert, it is the same as attacking him.

The Curse

Stefan bears the weight of what he calls a "curse" that his blood carries—being one of the Branded. What exactly does that mean? The union of a beorc and a laguz is supposedly a crime against the goddess. Though the two races very rarely interact closely together, there are those that do conceive children. Just because a child is Branded does not necessarily mean that their parents were the ones who mixed races, though. All it means is that somewhere down the line it happened. The curse can skip generations. Even when a Branded child is born, they first appear like any beorc. The laguz blood remains dormant until one day it shows itself in the form of a mark somewhere on the skin: the brand.

As a result of having laguz blood flowing in their veins, the Branded have special powers and age a lot slower than normal beorcs. The powers and aging depend on what type of laguz blood they have. As a result of this, the beorc fear and distrust the Branded. The laguz, despite also being mistreated and disrespected by beorc, are even worse. They pretend the Branded do not exist; they are basically "phantoms" according to Stefan.

It is easier for the Branded to blend in with beorcs than laguz, however. All they have to do is cover the mark, don't stay in one place for too long and don't get close to anyone. The laguz on the other hand, can sense them. Even if they can't pinpoint the problem, most laguz will feel uncomfortable around them. As a result, the laguz under normal circumstances would not talk to someone who was Branded voluntarily.

The Branded are completely rejected and isolated from everyone but their own kind. Naturally, I would assume it is because of this that Stefan is so withdrawn and therefore keeps to himself. He probably learned quickly that he couldn't trust people nor could he actually build any kind of lasting relationship. Even if he did successfully blend in with other beorcs, he would still age a lot slower than they did and therefore would eventually be found out. Though it doesn't specifically state Stefan founded his current village, I think chances are probably good that he had at least some role in forming it because of his epilogue blurb stating, "Stefan gathered like-minded individuals to form a tiny, independent settlement which later became a great country." He also extends the invitation out to Soren to join them as soon as he comes to realize he won't be able to blend in with the Greil Mercenaries forever. In a way, Stefan forming his own independent nation could be a representation of him rebelling against the world. If they weren't going to accept him, he would just build his own place where he would be accepted.

When Stefan finds out from Yune that there is nothing wrong with the union between a beorc and a laguz, he laughs. Not just chuckles, but is overcome with laughter. The first emotion I felt after seeing that was sadness. Even though Stefan was laughing, it was obviously laughing beside himself. The Branded had always been told that they carried the sin of their ancestors in their blood, and yet the whole time the goddess had no idea of their existence? On top of that, they had no real reason for being cursed? I don't blame Stefan for laughing. He was probably so incredulous that he could not believe the irony of which he was hearing. Hundreds of years passed and the Branded had been isolated and abused for a lie! All the pain and loneliness he suffered through was for nothing. All the effort he had to exert just to exist in peace was for nothing. If he didn't laugh, he would probably be overcome with despair or rage. Stefan demonstrates that he is able to keep his cool even after getting emotionally and mentally hit by a truck.

As I have already mentioned, though, Stefan doesn't let this piece of information overcome him. He bands together with others who believe the same things that he does and eventually creates a country. Stefan is able to overcome possible despair and become a leader that shone through those emotions. I personally admire Stefan's strength to overcome what I would think would be the most natural emotional reactions. Whether it was a result of having a strong character or having a strong resolve due to the many, many years of torment, I'm not sure, but whatever the reason, in a way he was able to overcome the curse that he believed he was fated with.

Playing Hermit

Stefan will only appear on the map under very specific conditions. Therefore, he can be quite easy to miss, especially considering traveling the desert is hard with a majority of units. But, before I get into the exact coordinates and units needed to recruit him, I want to mention that his location and those requirements are a reflection of his character.

Stefan lives in a small village secluded from the rest of the world in one of the toughest terrains to travel in. Because he has given up on beorc and laguz alike, it's not surprising that he has chosen to stay as far away from them as possible. I can only imagine the horrible experiences he has had to endure in his lifetime. I do personally find it interesting that it has to be a laguz that recruits him in Path of Radiance, though, considering he mentions to Yune later on that the laguz are the worst with persecuting the Branded. At least with the beorc, he can pretend to be normal and just not be close to anyone. Stefan actually seeking out Mordecai/Lethe because he wants to talk with them makes me think that maybe he hasn't actually lost all hope. If he got word of the gap between beorc and laguz shrinking, I suppose it would be natural to hope that people would also become more accepting of the Branded. Or maybe Stefan just hopes there are people out there that break the norm and wants reassurance that he isn't some strange creature that doesn't deserve the right to live normally like everyone else. For the most part, people want to feel like they have somewhere that they belong. They want to feel as if they are worthy of the same treatment as everyone else. Even though Stefan is cynical, acts almost emotionally detached and most likely has many, many years of bad experiences, I'm sure deep down he wishes for the same thing. Of course, he could have stepped outside the situation years ago and simply just be curious as to how the times may be changing as well. However, because Stefan seems so passionate about helping others who are Branded, I think he still wishes for a time where they can live equally among beorc and laguz.

In Path of Radiance, Stefan can be recruited during CHAPTER 15 - THE FERAL FRONTIER. If you want him to actually join Ike, you must bring either Lethe or Mordecai up to the top right hand corner of the map. Stefan is located on the square three from the right and two from the top (marked in pink in the image to the left). Lethe or Mordecai must be standing on the square to the left of Stefan's square (two down, four from the right). They will sense something and Stefan will suddenly appear before them wishing to talk to them about Gallia. Because they say they have no time to talk, Stefan agrees to join them in order to make time later. If you send a beorc over to that square, Stefan will simply entrust them with his sword, Vague Katti, and then leave. Because my picture is small and my description may be hard to follow, Serenes Forest has a more detailed map available here.

Stefan can be found in the desert once more three years later in Radiant Dawn. He cannot be recruited until PART 4, CHAPTER 3 - DISTORTIONS. If you have transferred data from Path of Radiance to your Radiant Dawn game, Mordecai/Lethe can be used in order to recruit him. If you haven't, however, you must bring Micaiah to the coordinate instead. This time, Stefan's square is located towards the very bottom right of the map. He is located on the twelfth square from the bottom right-most square on the map (marked in pink in the image to the right). Therefore, Mordecai/Lethe/Micaiah must stand one square to the left (up 12 and left one) in order to recruit Stefan. Mordecai/Lethe quickly exchange greetings with Stefan, while Micaiah introduces herself after he acknowledges the fact she is Branded. Either way, Stefan is eager to help his old comrades or in Micaiah's case, someone he considers to be "kin."

Isolation was Best

Stefan has not only physically isolated himself from the rest of the world, but he has also emotionally isolated himself. What other choice did he really have? Any laguz would know he was branded right away, or at least would feel too uncomfortable to befriend him. Stefan can blend among the beorc, but that would not solve his problem of being eventually alone. He would never be able to get close to anyone or remain in the same place for long out of fear that they would find out about the brand, his powers and/or his slow aging. I would imagine that Stefan is not as reserved in his own village, though. He calls other Branded his "kin," and therefore probably would open up to them more than anyone else. That's not to say I think Stefan would be a completely different person in his village, though. Once someone closes their heart off it would be hard for them to not be reserved at all. It would take time, and judging by Stefan's interactions with those around him in the game, I don't believe he has had enough time and positive interactions to be at that point.

The support conversations are very generic in Radiant Dawn. Even so, I think it is possible to observe Stefan's change in attitude towards people by looking at them. His A support suggests that he has grown tremendously from the person he was that trusted no one. He more or less tells the other person that he never expected to truly care about anyone in his life. He had to keep his distance from everyone and he had a difficult time trying to get close to anyone. As Stefan says, "life is a mysterious thing." He finds himself relying on the other person. Considering the way Stefan composed himself and closed himself off, I'm sure he learned quickly to never rely on anyone. Through the support he builds, he realizes that he cares tremendously for that person and does not want to lose them. In fact, Stefan says that he needs them. I personally believe he takes a giant leap forward by reaching the bond he has after getting an A support. Naturally, he could continue to only care about that one person, but I think his new attitude will at least somewhat generalize to others. Before this point, Stefan thought getting close to someone was an impossibility. Because he never thought it would happen, he probably didn't bother trying even when the opportunity presented itself. Now, however, it is no longer impossible. Stefan appears to truly value the relationship he builds and I think he would be more open towards pursuing relationships in the future.

Sincere Friendship

Path of Radiance, on the other hand, gives us a glimpse of certain character relationships more closely. Stefan can bond with both Mordecai and Soren, but I believe his relationship with Soren functions to show how he acts towards other Branded and shows no real growth. The Branded most likely naturally bond together out of circumstance. A friendship overcoming the stigma of being Branded shows a deeper bond to me. Therefore, I personally believe that Mordecai is Stefan's first true friend.

As I have previously mentioned, Mordecai is one of two people that are able to recruit Stefan. Because certain citizens of Gallia are willing to fight alongside Beorc, Stefan and other Branded believe that they may be able to find acceptance there. It is for this reason that Stefan wishes to talk with a laguz from Gallia. Mordecai is ignorant of the situation regarding the Branded, however, and does not understand Stefan's feelings of hate. Because of this, I think Stefan's "on guard" snaps on immediately. Not only could Mordecai never understand Stefan's feelings, he would probably just be like the others and feel uncomfortable around him. He already knew at this point that his hopes had been crushed about Gallia's acceptance, so I think the tiny light of hope in talking to him went out quickly. I'm sure Stefan thought pursuing a relationship with Mordecai was pointless as a result. Though Stefan more or less gives up, Mordecai does not. He finds out the meaning of the words that Stefan says and comes back to him. Stefan seems to be slightly surprised that he would go through all the effort but still does not let his guard down. He tells Mordecai to find out who the Branded are in order to understand why "ignorant laguz detest [him]." I think this line reinforces Stefan's loss of hope as soon as he realizes Mordecai's ignorance. I'm sure that once upon a time, Stefan tried various times to befriend people. But with time after time ending in the same result, Stefan probably gave up at the first warning sign that the relationship was bound to fail. I'm sure the the fact that Mordecai kept trying anyway started to give him some hope. Stefan did not want and refused to let that hope grow, however, until Mordecai knew the truth. Therefore, I believe that's why Stefan just threw it out there. If he let their relationship go on without telling him, it would only hurt more once Mordecai found out and would no longer associate with him.

When Mordecai returns to Stefan once more, he feels unsure. Stefan tells him he does not need to talk to him anymore if he is afraid and that he promises not to bother him. When Mordecai argues that he cannot ignore him, Stefan assumes that means Mordecai will fight him because he is so "wretched" and cannot be ignored. Stefan's first instinct was that Mordecai would rather kill him than refuse the stigma and still be his friend. I can hardly imagine the horrible life that he lived to assume violence out of a person like Mordecai, who wouldn't hurt a fly. Luckily for him, however, his instinct was wrong. Mordecai refuses to throw their friendship away and tells Stefan that he would rather have nothing to do with the goddess if it meant Stefan being unwelcome. At this moment, I can only imagine the shock on Stefan's face. Not only did Mordecai want to stay friends with him despite knowing he was one of the "Parentless" (the laguz name for the Branded) he had heard so many bad things about, but he would also throw away the goddess to stay by him. Stefan says that this moment in time is the first time he has ever felt so grateful to her. He truly appreciates Mordecai being such a sincere friend.

I was really disappointed to find out that Stefan didn't have a personalized support conversation with Mordecai in Radiant Dawn since it seemed to me that he really left a big impact on him. Mordecai was the first person to accept Stefan for who he was despite the "laws" that said otherwise. Mordecai, however, does have a specific conversation with Stefan. You can tell that Mordecai really enjoys spending time with "Stef" and is honestly glad to have him around. Though Stefan's responses are generic in return, I can imagine if they had put more effort into the support conversations, Stefan would be happy as well. Even if Stefan makes other friendships, I would think that Mordecai would be one of the most important. Mordecai showed him he was not some unlikable creature with nowhere to belong. I truly believe that he will always have at least a small place in Stefan's heart as a result.

Like a Lion

As I've previously mentioned, it is extremely likely that Stefan has lion laguz blood running in his veins. And because I'm a sucker for symbolism, my brain automatically starts wondering if that could signal anything about his character. The lion symbolizes a variety of things. Not surprisingly, strength, leadership and courage are the three traits most often identified with them. Naturally Stefan has a lot of physical strength considering he has laguz power. The lion laguz are the most powerful of the beast tribes as well. It is not hard to notice how quickly he will dominate the field when you first meet him in Path of Radiance. He is proud of his skill with the sword. He knows he is strong and is not one to mess with lightly. He actually enjoys the thought of possibly losing to another, probably because he wins so often. Stefan obviously possesses courage and leadership considering he gathers a group of people and eventually forms a great country. Lions are often used as symbols for royalty and dominance. He is not afraid of death and is willing to do what he needs to for those he seeks to aid. On a similar note, Stefan is confident and independent much like lions. They also represent self-control, which can be seen through Stefan keeping his feelings in check and choosing not to use his power for revenge.

Those symbolized by lions are said to be fiercely loyal and will defend family honor to the death. Stefan displays this trait when he comes to the aid of Micaiah in Radiant Dawn. Attacking any of the Branded (which he considers family) means attacking him. Stefan will join a war if it means aiding his kin. He joins Micaiah's side with no questions asked. All that matters is that someone was inflicting harm on people like him; something he will not tolerate. Even in his Radiant Dawn support quotes he says things like he will be watching over them or he'll have their back. Stefan strikes me as being extremely loyal once someone gains his trust. Especially because he has very few people that are close to him, I'm sure that means his loyalty is even more fierce.

1. Symbolic Meaning of Lions
2. Lion Symbol


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b a c k   .   c l e a r   .   f o r w a r d    Like a Lion and its contents are © Samantha, however Stefan and Fire Emblem are © Nintendo and other rightful owners. Like a Lion is a part of AFTER-DEATH.ORG.