Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a tactical role-playing game made by industry veteran developers Intelligent Systems and Koei Tecmo. It was released for the Nintendo Switch in 2019, and is the 16th game in the Fire Emblem series. The game takes place on the fictional continent of Fodlan. Fodlan is currently ruled by three distinct powers, and one of the major characters in this story is Fire Emblem Three Houses Rhea
These powers are connected through a Monastery known as the Garreg Mach Monastery. As a result, the Monastery has a church and officer’s school that trains students from each nation. One of the major characters in Fire Emblem Three Houses is Rhea, the current archbishop and supreme leader of the Church of Seiros.
The player assumes the role of Byleth, an ex-mercenary that takes the job of a professor in the Monastery. Therefore, the player is tasked with training students and leading them through a series of battles.
Rhea also has a small role in the spin-off title Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes.
Who is Rhea?
Rhea was born on the 11th of the Guardian Moon, and is approximately 1222 years old. She is of race Nabatean, i.e she is a Sky Dragon. The Nabateans are the descendants of an ancient god, and belonged to the land of Nabatea. Rhea is currently the Archbishop of the Church of Seiros and also the leader of the Knights of Seiros.
The Church of Seiros is a religious group, and is also known as the Central Church. Its main headquarters are established in Garreg Mach Monastery, and as a result the Church is a neutral power not affiliated with any group, and is tasked with maintaining peace in Fodlan by ensuring that none of the other forces step out of line.
The Knights of Seiros are a peacekeeping militia entrusted with the responsibility of protecting the Church.
Before being the Archbishop, she was Jeralt’s senior when he was working as the Captain of the Knights of Seiros. Her responsibilities also include working in a high ranking position, in charge of assigning missions to each of the three houses.
Academy Phase Arc
In the Imperial Year 1180, Jeralt returns to Rhea in the Garreg Mach Monastery after saving Edelgard, Dimitri and Claude. Rhea then asks Jeralt to make his son, Byleth the new professor at the Monastery.
Rhea’s true reasoning for wanting Byleth to be at Garreg Mach is later revealed. She wanted the professor at the Monastery so that he would one day merge with Sothis, which would allow the progenitor god to come back to life and this, lead the people of Fodlan once more.
Once Byleth’s energy fuses with that of Sothis, Rhea brings the player to the Holy Tomb, in an attempt to finalize the transformation. Rhea, however, is unsuccessful, and Sothis is not revived. The tomb where the ritual was taking place is attacked by the Flame Emperor and Adrestian Empire armies.
The Imperial army ransacks the tomb, and Rhea orders Byleth and the students to defend the tomb. Once Rhea finds out that it is Edelgard that is actually the Flame Emperor, she orders her allies to kill them, in the best interest of the continent.
Rhea has many different plotlines depending on which house the player chooses.
Azure Moon/Verdant Wind/Silver Snow Arc
For every single house except for Black Eagles, the player will, by default, side with the Church of Seiros and oppose Edelgard and the Adrestian Empire. Assuming the player chooses the Black Eagles, Byleth still chooses to take Rhea as allies. The only exception to this path is if the player completes certain prerequisites with Edelgard, in which case Byleth can take Edelgard’s side if they wish.
Assuming Byleth chooses to take Rhea’s side, she thanks them for their loyalty and asks for their aid in the first defence against the attack of the Adrestian Empire. Even though the plan to bring Sothis back to life failed, Rhea still feels that Byleth is in some ways still Sothis, and trusts them with the protection and care of Fodlan should anything happen to her.
Moreover, she requests Seteth and Flayn to also help Byleth, and by proxy, help Sothis. Despite their initial successful first defence, a much bigger army helmed by Lord Arundel reinforces the enemy. Rhea reveals her true form by transforming into a very powerful being called the Immaculate One, but is overwhelmed by three Demonic Beasts that spawn.
Byleth, observing Rhea in danger, enters the fray to her aid, and with their help, the duo manage to fend off the attacks of the Demonic Beasts. Inspite of their efforts, however, Thale appears and manages to throw Byleth down a ravine. Rhea struggles mournfully as she is subdued by a remaining Demonic Beast, thinking Byleth to have died.
In each of these routes, Rhea is captured alive and kept hostage in a weakened state. In the DLC it is revealed that Edelgard is keeping her alive to potentially use as a weapon against the Agarthans once the war is over.
Crimson Flower Arc
In the Crimson Flower Arc, the player betrays Rhea’s interest to protect Edelgard, and thus defies Rhea’s orders to execute her. Believing the duo to be traitors, Rhea transforms into the Immaculate One and tries to kill them, so that the power of Sothis does not fall into her enemies’ hands. However, Byleth and Edelgard manage to escape safely with Hubert’s aid.
After the Empire declares war against the Church, the Black Eagle Strike Force and the Imperial Army are helmed by Edelgard to strike Garreg Mach Monastery to get an advantage politically.
Rhea orders the Knights of Seiros to defend the Monastery, but despite their best efforts, the defense fails and the Monastery is taken over. In a last ditch effort to win the battle, Rhea transforms into the Immaculate one and creates a huge blast of energy against the enemy.
Rhea escapes to the Holy Kingdom of Faerghus, and reorients her army with the help of Dimitri. Overtime, Rhea formulates a strategy to regain control of Garreg Mach. The plan involves attacking the Monastery directly with a main regiment, while Seteth flanks the enemy and attacks with a splinter unit. Despite their best efforts, however, the plan is a failure.
After this defeat, depending on the proceedings of the game in the previous events, Seteth and Flayn either withdraw from Rhea’s side or are killed. If they withdraw, Rhea somberly accepts their betrayal and makes no effort to bring them back.
If they are killed, however, Rhea angrily curses the player. In her fury, she promises to destroy Byleth, and returns to Fhirdiad. At Fhirdiad, her and Dimitri formulate their next move, which involves attacking the Black Eagles Strike Force at the Tailtean Plains in a coordinated pincer attack.
Their plan is thwarted, however, when unforgiving weather delays Rhea’s arrival, which forces the Kingdom to fight alone. Once she arrives, she angrily curses herself for being late and unable to kill Byleth, whom she refers to as “the Fallen One”.
If Rhea is defeated first, her and the knights are forced to fall back, but the Altered Golems that they were using continue to fight on the battlefield. In any case, the plan fails catastrophically and Dimitri is killed. Rhea retreats back to Fhirdiad.
Once they arrive at Fhirdiad, Rhea and the Church are ordered by Edelgard to surrender. Catherine inquires from Rhea if retreating and regrouping might be the best option, but instead she orders her and Cyril to set fire to the whole city and morphs into the Immaculate One, in a vulgar display of power to strike fear into the heart of Byleth and their army. However, in-spite of her best efforts, she is killed by Byleth and Edelgard. As she dies, the Crest of Flames dissolves from Byleth’s heart, bringing back his humanity.
Cindered Shadows Arc
Rhea reveals her knowledge of the Chalice of Beginnings as the party explores the Abyss. Rhea also tells the group that it was Sitri’s dying wish to give them her heart, but hides the fact that Sitri was created by her and that she used it for the Rite of Rising.
The group also find out that Yuri was meant to keep watch on Aelfric, and was thus put into the abyss by Rhea. This happened as Rhea was unable to bury Sitri, and rather than bury him, made a fake burial and moved the body to the Abyss, which as discovered by Aelfirc five years after the creation of the Ashen Wolves.
Aelfrci wants to use the Chalice of Beginnings and the Blood of the Four Apostles to revive Sitri, and Rhea and the others are able to find out where he is with the help of Yuri. Despite their desperate pleas for him to stop, he continues with the ritual, becoming an Umbral Beast, forcing the group to fight him and take him down before he causes any more destruction.
Once the Umbral Beast has been defeated, Rhea dissolves the Ashen Wolves and says her sorries, as she believes their purpose is now over.
Azure Moon Arc
Following the fall of the Garreg Mach Monastery, the Adrestian Empire kidnaps Rhea, forcing the Knights of Seiros to join forces with the player to rescue her. Edelgard dies and Rhea is found, however she is extremely weakened. Rhea then retires from the Archbishop title, and Byleth takes over her duties as the new Archbishop of the Church of Seiros.
Verdant Wind Arc
Following the defeat of Edelgard at the hands of the Verdant, Enbarr is taken and Rhea is found alive but significantly wounded. Claude is exasperated and interrogates Rhea into giving out whatever information she is withholding. As a result, Rhea outlines some of Fodlan’s true history, but keeps much of the information to herself.
Rhea is returned to Garreg Mach Monastery to give her a chance to be nursed back to health. The player and Claude embark on a journey to fulfil Edelgard’s mission of destroying Those Who Slither in the Dark, utilising the information they received from Hubert before he passed.
Rhea goes with Claude and Byleth, and the trio journey to Shambhala and defeat Thales, the leader of Those Who Slither in the Dark. As a last ditch effort, Thales attacks the trio ferociously with Javelins in the light, in the hopes of killing Byleth, Rhea and the rest of the army. To protect Byleth and the army, Rhea is forced to transform into the Immaculate One, and uses her self as a human shield, but is severely injured in the process.
On the verge of death and not knowing if she will survive, Rhea tells both Claude and Byleth all the information that she has.
This information, among other things, consists of the true origins of Those Who Slither in the Dark, the creation of the Hero Relics and the crests including the Sword of the Creator and the Crest of Flames, which was made from Sothis’s own bones and heart. Most importantly, she admits that she is not only the Immaculate one, but Seiros herself.
At the end, she reveals that once she killed Nemesis, she stole the Crest of Flames from him, in an attempt to bring her mother back to life. Rhea begs Byleth and Claude to kill the revived Nemesis, stating that she no longer wishes to use Byleth to resurrect her mother.
Silver Snow Arc
The player is joined by Rhea as they fight and win against Thales, and Rhea is still severely wounded protecting Byleth. However, the key difference in this playthrough is that Rhea goes berserk after telling Byleth the whole story. She becomes a frenzied Immaculate One, and travels to Garreg Mach Monastery with many White Beasts and Church Soldiers, forcing Byleth and his allies to fight Rhea and protect Fodlan from her fury.
Although Rhea ascends into yet another form, the allies are able to defeat her. As she dies, Rhea believes Byleth to be Sothis.
Assuming Byleth has an A-rank support with Rhea, Rhea stays alive after the battle, and retires as the Archbishop with Byleth taking her place, and her living a quiet life in Zanado. If the player manages to get an S-rank support, however, Rhea returns to her position after healing and works with Byleth as their partner to bring peace to Fodlan.
Fire Emblem: Three Hopes Arc
Shez enrolls into the Academy, and is summoned by Rhea to be told that his uncle Rufus has seized control of Fhirdiad. Gilbert goes along with Dimitri to Fhirdiad in order to suppress the insurgency. Meanwhile, Edelgard convinces Rhea to give her support to remove Lord Arundel from his position, with Tomas’ betrayal as precedence.
After the succession crisis in Faerghus as well as the coup in Adrestia and the attempted invasion of Leicester by the Almyran forces, Rhea makes the decision to close the Officers Academy and send the students home.
Rhea is the quintessential leader of a Church; charitable, helpful, kind and empathetic. Despite her extremely affectionate character with her followers, she can be extremely cruel to those that threaten the church and its followers. However, despite her unwavering aggression towards her enemies, she believes in freedom of religion and thus, will never force anyone to join the Church.
This is demonstrated by her tolerance of the ideologies of Cyril and Shamir. She also always maintains a positive outlook, with all failures and defeats being ultimately understood as the will of the Goddess.
Despite the large number of followers of the Church and her high status as the Archbishop of the Church, Rhea finds it difficult to find time for social interactions.
Time and again she admits that she feels lonely. Moreover, she is very friendly and comfortable with Byleth, and over the course of the game always maintains that Byleth should not consider her the Archbishop, but rather a friend.
Deep below her stoic and friendly nature, Rhea is plagued by the death of her mother and is preoccupied with the idea of resurrecting her to a troubling degree. This is equal measures a consequence of mourning and of a wish to return to her past life. Arguably disingenuously, Rhea has made up part of Fodlan’s history, in an attempt to keep peace in the land.
This trickery along with her severe mistrust of other people has resulted in direct and indirect effects in events throughout Fodlan. A major example of this is the fact that despite being aware of a splinter group wishing to overthrow her, she does nothing about them.
Rhea exudes an aura of mystery, which understandably results in characters like Aelfric, Seteth and Jeralt to keep their distance and be suspicious of her. Further, in the Crimson Flower path, even the most devoted of students start to doubt her sincerity and loyalty as archbishop of the Church.
Marianne grows severely disillusioned with Rhea due to her constant misuse of power and her position, however it is important to consider that on the Crimson Flower path have limited knowledge of events in Fodlan and do not know the story as a whole.
Rhea is one of the few people to survive Zanado, and thus is severely bitter with humanity as a whole, despite the fact that it was only Nemesis and his partners committing the genocide. Rhea is a firm belief in the power and necessity of religion; she believes that humanity on its own is doomed to fail and that the Church and commands of Sothis are essential to lead humanity to success.
She has an inferior outlook on humanity, believing them to be weak, ignorant and frail creatures incapable succeeding at anything without assistance and guidance. However, as the game processes, her opinions on humanity change and grow more positive, in part due to the actions and interactions of the player.
Rhea is shown to be extremely vengeful and quick to anger. In the Crimson Flower path, if Byleth, the wearer of Sothis’ crest and sentience, chooses to save Edelgard instead of murdering her, Rhea considers this a betrayal and becomes extremely furious at the player, going as far as wanting them dead. This anger also extends to Edelgard, whom she believes is destroying the legacy of her ancestors.
After the player betrays Rhea, she becomes increasingly focused on them, believing them with even more certainty to be the reawakening of Nemesis, and thus, wishing to completely obliterate them. This drastic change in personality scares many of her followers, and causes them to become frightened and disillusioned.
As a result, over the next few years, many of the followers of the Church change sides and join the Empire. Even Seteth does not support her fully, believing her to have lost her way and not fit to lead the Church. Seteth’s betrayal causes Rhea to spiral even further into insanity, and in her rage she blames Byleth for all that went wrong.
Rhea acts differently in the Silver Snow and Verdant Wind paths, however. In these paths, Byleth continues to remain by Rhea’s side, and she maintains her sanity and does not become unstable. As the game goes on in this route, she becomes more and more understanding of humanity and starts to regret the bad decisions that she took.
She also self-reflects and admits to the player that many of the things she did were done out of selfish and self-motivated reasons, and is regretful for them. She forgoes her title of Archbishop and gives it to Byleth, believing him to be more worthy of ruling. In the paired ending, Rhea recovers from her injuries and the two rule side by side to help Fodlan succeed.