Cindered Shadows is a DLC side story in Fire Emblem: Three Houses where the focus is given to the Ashen Wolves Yuri, Constance, Balthus, and Hapi who resides in the Abyss, a whole town below Garreg Mach Monastery.
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In the past, when Garreg Mach was built, the Four Apostles performed the Rite of Rising in an attempt to resurrect Sothis. The ritual ended in failure and the Four Apostles disappeared. A thousand years later, Claude follows a suspicious individual late at night and notices that the person went through a hole in a secluded wall seeming to be heading underneath Garreg Mach Monastery. Edelgard and Dimitri asked him if he was sure the shady person went through there when Byleth comes along. Just so happening to be passing by is Linhardt, Ashe, and Hilda, whom their house leaders force to accompany them as they head below to explore this unknown cavern.
There, they discover Abyss, a secret underground settlement beneath Garreg Mach that has an uneasy truce with the Church, and is defended by the school's secret fourth house, the Ashen Wolves. The Ashen Wolves explain that they have a truce with the Church where neither side will interfere in each others' affairs, but mercenaries have recently been attempting to raid Abyss. Byleth and the students agree to help defend Abyss. Aelfric, the Church's liaison to Abyss, arrives and warns Byleth that factions within the Church would like to see Abyss purged. He also theorizes the mercenaries are looking for the Chalice of Beginnings, the primary component of the Rite of Rising.
The Ashen Wolves decide to look for the Chalice on their own and manage to obtain it, but Aelfric is captured by the mercenaries and held ransom for the Chalice. Rhea agrees to allow the Ashen Wolves to trade the Chalice for Aelfric, concluding nobody knows how to recreate the Rite of Rising. The Ashen Wolves also privately admit to Byleth that they are the descendants of the Four Apostles, ordered by the Church to keep their identities secret. Byleth and the Ashen Wolves head out to rescue Aelfric, but it is revealed he is the mastermind behind the attacks on Abyss and kidnaps the Ashen Wolves along with the Chalice. Rhea then arrives and warns Byleth that Aelfric intends to sacrifice the Ashen Wolves to activate the Chalice to revive Byleth's mother Sitri.
Byleth manages to rescue the Ashen Wolves but Aelfric continues with the ritual anyway, mutating into an umbral beast as a result, forcing Byleth and Ashen Wolves to slay him. In recognition of their deeds, Rhea disbands the Ashen Wolves and allows them to return to the surface world. They all decide to go their separate ways while promising to return to help each other and Byleth if needed.
In comparison to the main game's sandbox nature and overflowing resources, Cindered Shadows significantly limits your options. Your "Monastery" units are given 4 classes, being Commoner/Noble, one Intermediate class, one Advanced Class, and one last one that could go in either one. For example, Byleth has access to Commoner, Mercenary, Priest, and Swordmaster. Edelgard, Dimitri, and Claude have Lord as their Intermediate class, while Byleth, Lindhardt, Ashe, and Hilda have the Intermediate class that uses the same skill as their base class. The Abyssian units (Yuri, Constance, Balthus, and Hapi) are limited to the Commoner/Noble Class and their unique DLC class (Trickster, Dark Flier, War Monk, and Valkyrie) and aren't given other options, except Yuri who also gets access to the Thief class. The difficulty of Cindered Shadows is more difficult than the main campaign, but you only have access to 2 difficulty modes in Normal and Hard. One gets no access to class mastery skills, abilities, or combat arts
List of Classes Available to Units in Cindered Shadows
Bold text indicates a unit's starting class.
- Byleth - Mercenary, Priest, Swordmaster
- Yuri - Thief, Trickster
- Constance - Dark Flier
- Balthus - War Monk
- Hapi - Valkyrie
- Edelgard - Lord, Fortress Knight, Warrior
- Dimitri - Lord, Hero, Paladin
- Claude - Lord, Wyvern Rider, Sniper
- Linhardt - Priest, Warlock, Bishop
- Ashe - Archer, Assassin, Sniper
- Hilda - Brigand, Pegasus Knight, Warrior
Effects on the Main Game
After completing a certain chapter in the Cindered Shadows side story, you will unlock additional benefits in the main game.
- Chapter 1 - Access to exploring Abyss in the main game, the 4 special classes certification and unlock Anna's Tricky Merchant outfit.
- Chapter 2 - Constance is recruitable in the main game
- Chapter 3 - No Benefits
- Chapter 4 - Balthus is recruitable in the main game
- Chapter 5 - Hapi is recruitable in the main game
- Chapter 6 - Yuri is recruitable in the main game
- Chapter 7 - The Chalice of Beginnings and 10,000 Renown can be collected from the DLC Supplies. Another benefit is that you can now select Maddening difficulty in the main game without even playing the main game yet.