- Not to be confused with the name of Chapter 8 of Fire Emblem Awakening.
—The ingame description of the Grimleal
The Grimleal (ギムレー教団 Gimurē Kyōdan lit. Gimle Sect) is an enemy organization in Fire Emblem Awakening. It is a cult whose members worship the Fell Dragon Grima as the god of annihilation. Based primarily in Plegia, it is led by Validar, whose lineage has long dedicated themselves to Grima.
The Grimleal is the main religion of Plegia and contrasts the similar religion that follows Naga in the neighboring country of Ylisse. Followers of the religion all hold the Fell Dragon in high regard and pay homage to him in various ways, such as the attire of Plegian Dark Mages being adorned with various symbolic purple eyes. The Grimleal devote themselves entirely to bringing about the return of the Fell Dragon by fighting those that would seek to stop him, kidnapping victims as sacrifices, or even offering themselves as nourishment for Grima at the Dragon's Table, which they have done for generations. They do this even though they understand that his return would mark the end for all of humankind.
What exactly motivates them to do this is not specified, though evidence indicates tradition, heritage, and a belief of destiny plays a part. For example, the current cult leader, Validar was raised in the hopes of being a vessel for Grima, as were his father and grandfather. According to Gangrel, some Plegians may have found solace in the Grimleal to escape his despotic rule.
After Gangrel's rise to power, every citizen in Plegia is forced to pay heed to the cult lest they be persecuted by the Grimleal's inquisitions, though many of the citizenry are not members and fear the Grimleal, and Gangrel comments that he is a member in name only.
Despite being an official religion, many Grimleal members are portrayed as criminals, openly committing unlawful activity such as human trafficking and ritual murder in the name of Grima in territories throughout the world. Though Plegia is the main home of Grima worshipers, it would appear that Grimleal stretch from all over the continent, and even have many members in Valm.
1000 years prior to the events of Awakening, the Fell Dragon, Grima made a pact with a man in an attempt to destroy the continent, but was sealed away by the first Exalt of Ylisse, thanks to the power of Naga through the Falchion and Fire Emblem. In the wake of this, the Grimleal was formed by those loyal to Grima in hopes of resurrecting him once more. A human who inherited the mark of Grima was known as the Fellblood. Unfortunately for the Grimleal, the remaining Fellbloods did not have the full mark and Heart of Grima necessary to accept Grima's subconscious. For generations, numerous Grimleal leaders bore children in hopes that their child would be able to become the vessel for the Fell Dragon. After 1000 years, Validar, who, like his forefathers, was unable to be the vessel himself, married a woman and conceived a child. This child was perfect to be the new vessel for the Grima, having the proper Heart of Grima needed. However, one night, the child's mother took the baby and fled from the cult and Plegia for unknown reasons. Validar has been searching for this child ever since.
About 15 years before the events of the game, the previous Exalt of Ylisse attempted to destroy the Grimleal in response to their activities by sending troops to Plegia, but lost many soldiers, and resorted to conscripting commoners to fight the Grimleal. While it is said that Ylisse was in ruins by the time of the Exalt's death, any effect that the war had on the Grimleal is unmentioned.
By the start of the game, Gangrel had taken over Plegia and turned it into a Grimleal theocracy as part of a deal with the group that had supported him. Gangrel was launching attacks on Ylisse in an attempt to take control of the continent. During this time, the Grimleal had been attempting to further manipulate Gangrel via Aversa, a woman who had been brainwashed by Grimleal magic into becoming their pawn. However, Gangrel noticed the manipulation attempts, and sent Aversa away before the climatic battle of his war. After Gangrel's defeat, the Grimleal once again took control of the entire country of Plegia.
Later, Walhart created an empire in Valm with the intent of invading Ylisse, taking the Fire Emblem, and using it to unite the world for the purpose of destroying the Grimleal. However, Walhart's army made enemies with the entire continent of Ylisse in the process, leading to Chrom's army borrowing thousands of ships from the Grimleal. It is later revealed by Walhart that his army had many Grimleal planted by the cult to sabotage his campaign from within, and this led to Walhart's failure.
A mass of Grimleal sacrificed themselves on the Dragon's Table in a ritual conducted by the Grima of the future to awaken the Grima of that timeline. The remaining Grimleal assisted both Grimas in trying to destroy mankind, and battling the Shepherds, but were killed along with their master. With the destruction of the Grimleal, it is presumed that Plegia found new leadership.
- Validar - The leader whose lineage has long served Grima.
- Aversa - A woman who acts as Validar's assistant. She is not a true Grimleal, and was actually brainwashed against her will with magic into joining.
- Chalard - A Grimleal priest trying to capture Nowi.
- Excellus - An undercover Grimleal inwardly sabotaging Walhart's campaign against them.
- Ardri - A Grimleal priest who kidnaps villagers to sacrifice as per their doctrines.
- Algol - A brutish Grimleal priest.
- Jamil - A priest and leader of Grimleal thugs in Valm.
- Nelson - A former Valmese general who wants the throne of Ylisse and the Fire Emblem.
Grimleal presumably comes from a portmanteau of Grima and leal (a word from Portuguese and Spanish that literally means "loyal"), so it would mean "those loyal to Grima".
- Unlike the Loptr Church, who seem to have been their inspiration, no true ex-members of the Grimleal are recruitable, as Aversa was brainwashed.
- Several members of the Plegian army such as Henry, who doesn't believe in gods, wear Grimleal symbols on their clothes, despite not expressing Grimleal motivation or loyaty. It is possible this is due to Plegia becoming a Grimleal theocracy and thus Grima's symbols being part of the official uniform for the military.