—In-game description, New Mystery of the Emblem
The Binding Shield (封印の盾 Fūin no Tate lit. Shield of Seals), later renamed as the Fire Emblem (ファイアーエムブレム Faiā Emuburemu), also called the Crest of Flames (炎の紋章 Honō no Monshō) is the legendary shield of Archanea and the counterpart of the Falchion.
The Binding Shield is called the Pedestal of Flames (炎の台座 Honō no Daiza) in the Japanese version of Fire Emblem Awakening. When Tiki is first met, she asked if the army had with them the 'Crest of Flames', the name which Chrom didn't recognize. Only after Tiki explained that it was the treasure passed down in royal family did Chrom understand.
Origin and Early Use
Originally forged by Naga from one of their fangs, they used it to seal away the Earth Dragons, who had turned feral and were threatening to destroy humanity. The shield also helped prevent Manaketes from Degeneration.
After their death, the shield was stolen by a thief named Adrah, who removed and sold the gemstones placed in it, thus unknowingly weakening the seal over the Earth Dragons. The thief would later go on to found the kingdom of Archanea and kept the shield, now renamed the Fire Emblem, as a royal treasure. During the battle against Medeus and the Dolhr Empire, the Fire Emblem was wielded by Duke Cartas, leader of the rebellion against Medeus, although it was ultimately the peasant born Anri, wielding the Falchion, who would slay Medeus.
Sometime after the Binding Shield became the Fire Emblem, a curse was put on it, dooming its wielders, who for most of its history was the Archanea royal family, to misery. There are two different origins given for the curse: Mystery of the Emblem implies the curse began when Adrah stole the shield and removed the orbs, while Shadow Dragon implies that the curse originated with Artemis, who cursed it in order to guarantee Cartas victory against Medeus. Though she loved the hero Anri, she was never able to marry him due to his commoner status. This became known as Artemis' Curse (アルテミスの定め, Arutemis no Sadame lit. Artemis’ Fate)
The shield remained in Archanea until Medeus's revival, where the surviving member of the Archanea royal family, Nyna, entrusted it to Marth to use in his battle against Medeus. In Mystery of the Emblem, Marth would obtain the shield once again, this time from Linde, when he began his battle against the possessed Hardin. He would eventually find the missing orbs and have Gotoh restore the Fire Emblem to its true form, the Binding Shield. With the Binding Shield complete, Gotoh allowed Marth to awaken Tiki so long as the shield remained complete.
With the Binding Shield and the Falchion, Marth was able to slay a revived Medeus, and put the Earth Dragons back into the seal. During his defeat, Medeus taunted Marth that the complete shield would be eventually lost due to humanity's greed, but Marth resolved to keep it together.
The curse on the Binding Shield affected Nyna the most heavily during the events of the War of Shadows. First, she was forced to watch as Camus, leader of the Sable Knights fought against Marth's army due to his undying loyalty to Grust and supposedly die. Then she was forced into a loveless marriage with Hardin who was corrupted by Gharnef soon after and was killed by Marth's army in the end. Finally, despite the return of Camus, under the alias of Sirius, her chance of love with him was no longer possible as he not only was already in love with a Valentian woman named Tatiana (who nursed him back to health after he was washed ashore in Valentia after his battle against Marth), but he had come to believe that he would never bring Nyna anything but disgrace and sadness.
The Fire Emblem is one of the national treasures of Ylisse, alongside the Falchion. For reasons unknown, the Fire Emblem now functions much differently then before. The Fire Emblem was used by the First Exalt of Ylisse to defeat Grima, but due to the Emblem's overwhelming power, four of the jewels were removed from it afterwards. When all five jewels (Argent, Sable, Gules, Azure, and Vert) are placed on the Emblem, the Awakening Ceremony can be initiated. The Fire Emblem is also used as a shield by Chrom when he is promoted to Great Lord, similar to how Marth uses it in Mystery of the Emblem.
Its alternate appearance in this title is explained by Lucina in a support conversation; both the Fire Emblem and the Falchion were broken and reforged some time before the game. However the change of function is never explained.
The five gems of the shield were distributed across the world in the various countries during a time known as the Schism. Ylisse held onto the shield itself as well as the the silver gem, Argent. Ferox held the red jewel, Gules, Tiki held the blue jewel, Azure, in the Mila Tree, Chon'sin held the green jewel, Vert, until it was taken to Valm after Walhart conquered Chon'sin, and the black gem, Sable, was stolen by the Grimleal in Plegia, who viewed the Emblem as sacrilegious due to its role in defeating Grima.
In Game Use
The Fire Emblem is used by Marth to open chests without a key. After it is upgraded into the Binding Shield it gains the ability to repel Earth Dragons. Contrary to popular belief, it is not needed to wield the Falchion, although Marth and Chrom both wield the two together. The shield also gives Marth +2 for all his stats in New Mystery of the Emblem once all the Gems have been replaced. In Awakening, Chrom wields it, although it has no gameplay effect.
In the Wii U version of Monster Hunter Frontier G, the Fire Emblem is usable as a shield as part of the crossover promotion involving Chrom and Lucina armor sets. The Fire Emblem is paired with the Falchion (Chrom's)/Parallel Falchion (Lucina's) as part of a combined shield and single-handed sword set.
The name Fire Emblem most likely refers to the fact that In Mystery of the Emblem, Shadow Dragon, and New Mystery of the Emblem, the Shield depicted a Phoenix bearing five Orbs, the Orbs themselves being absent until near the end of Mystery of the Emblem and its remake. A Phoenix is a creature that when near death catches fire and is later reborn from its own ashes, somewhat akin to the Shield's own vandalism and restoration.
- In Awakening, after the Fire Emblem is taken from Chrom by Validar, (If Chrom is a Great Lord) the Binding Shield no longer appears on his arm until he retrieves it. Likewise, if he promotes to a Great Lord before receiving the Fire Emblem in Chapter 7, it will not appear on his arm. Despite the developers taking this into account, Chrom's map sprite always has the shield.
- It is unexplained in Awakening why Tiki is willingly keeping the Emblem apart contrary to the plot established in Mystery of the Emblem where not only was Marth's wish that the Binding Shield always be kept whole but that keeping the Emblem together helped Manaketes stave off degeneration.
- The English names of the gems in Awakening are based off of tinctures used in heraldry.
- The runes around the gemstones of the Awakening manifestation read (top to bottom, left to right): "white frame orb holy light, black frame orb dark night, blue 'fram' orb starry heavens, red frame orb lifeblood, green frame orb mother earth.", representing the name and color for each orb.
- In Fire Emblem Fates, a replica of the Awakening version appears as a special clothing that can be equipped on all units via My Castle. It is obtained by having StreetPass data on the 3DS for Awakening. Odin, Selena, and Laslow confirm that it is merely a replica and not the original.
- For reasons unknown in Fates, the Yato is repeatedly referred to throughout all story paths as the "Pedestal of Flames", the Japanese name of the Awakening version of Binding Shield.
- Interestingly, in English releases of the game, when Tiki asks for the shield in Chapter 16, Chrom's initial confusion in the Japanese version brought about by Tiki's use of the artifact's alternate title is entirely absent, as her dialogue was altered to instead refer to it exclusively as the Fire Emblem; with Chrom instead appearing to briefly express slight surprise at her apparent familiarity with the object before promptly handing it over to her. This change was most likely done either to prevent the game's western audience from being confused by the shield's multiple names themselves (as the older games in which the object went by said names were not released or particularly well-known at the time), or was simply done to save development time during the game's translation as the overall exchange between the two characters in the English versions is noticeably faster-paced than in the original; or it may have been a combination of both issues.