Current Characters: n/a
Character: Emil Castagnier/Ratatosk
Age: 16 (in actuality, thousands of years)
Canon: Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World
Canon Point: Right after the Cape Fortress section in Chapter 5
Background: Over here and here
When we first meet him, Emil hardly seems like much of a hero, much less a Knight of Ratatosk: he's quiet, timid to the point of frustration (on Richter's end, at least), and incredibly submissive-- which is understandable, given his background. Due to the fact that monsters suddenly started appearing around Luin when he arrived, many of the townspeople there call him a monster and fear and/or shun him; Emil himself says nothing to contradict them and simply allows them to treat him badly because he's too frightened to stand up for himself. Even his aunt and uncle constantly berate him and tell him how things would be so much better if they'd never taken him in. As a result, Emil has learned that keeping his head down, staying quiet, and apologizing for everything (even when it's not his fault) is the best way to get other people to leave him alone. He's resigned himself to not having any friends not because he doesn't want any, but because he just feels that no one would want to be friends with someone like him.
And then he meets Richter, who teaches him that courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality, a phrase which becomes Emil's mantra whenever he's afraid or doubting himself. With Richter's occasionally harsh encouragement, he's able to start standing up for himself and making his own decisions instead of just going along with what other people say... and he discovers that it feels incredibly good. Meeting Marta and becoming a Knight of Ratatosk makes him feel needed for the first time in his life, and slowly his almost non-existent self-esteem begins to grow. All Emil really needed was people who believed in him and supported him to start coming out of his shell and becoming just a little bit braver.
However, to say Emil lacks any courage at the beginning would be a lie. Rather, it's more that it only comes out when push comes to shove, such as when Richter is threatening Marta. Though it's clear that he's frightened, Emil shows little hesitation when he steps up to block Richter and allow Marta to escape. Given sufficient motivation, he can be quite courageous, even going so far as to disregard his own safety to do what he believes needs to be done. He only tends to get hung up when he stops and thinks too hard about what he's about to do-- when he just acts on instinct, it's clear that he's actually very brave.
Of course, there are also times when he really does need to stop and think about what he's doing. One side effect of Emil's lack of friendships and general human interaction manifests in the tendency he has to sometimes just put his foot right in his mouth and not even realize he's done so. At one point, after tasting another party member's cooking, he grows teary with joy and announces that he didn't realize that women could cook... right in front of Marta. He has a bad habit of just saying whatever he's thinking without realizing the implications of his words, and while he never means to act maliciously, he can end up hurting feelings in the process. It's more that he's just a very honest person who sometimes lacks filters; whenever he realizes that he's offended someone, he's quick to apologize for it. Making someone else feel bad is the very last thing he wants to do.
Emil is nothing if not kind-hearted. While his drive to please others no doubt has at least some roots in the treatment he received while in Luin, the vast majority of it is simply the way he is. He likes to make people happy and be helpful in whatever way he can, be that cooking for them, giving some encouraging words, or even just letting them know that he's there for them. While he recognizes that he's not always the best at helping, he still tries his hardest, and the sentiment is there if nothing else.
In contrast, Ratatosk Mode Emil (henceforth referred to as just "Ratatosk") is almost Emil's polar opposite. Where Emil is kind and quiet, Ratatosk is arrogant and brutal, caring only about achieving his goals. If he has to hurt others to do so, then so be it-- he has little love for anyone he believes to be beneath him, which is most of the world. The only person he shows any consideration towards is Marta, and even then, he will still snap at her when he's upset or irritated (which usually happens when she gives any indication that she prefers the company of the other Emil over him). For all of his arrogance, it seems that even Ratatosk has a certain amount of insecurity when he feels that he isn't being properly appreciated.
His opinions of his other self range from exasperation to outright disgust depending on what's going on; he considers Emil to be a coward who isn't capable of doing anything by himself, at one point saying, "My normal self is a pathetic weakling! A cowardly dog who'll never amount to anything!" Ratatosk has little tolerance for anyone whom he considers weak, and in Ratatosk's eyes, the normal Emil is as weak as they come.
That isn't to say that Ratatosk is entirely without empathy or compassion, however. He shows obvious concern when Marta is injured protecting him in the Temple of Darkness, even going so far as to tell her that it was entirely his fault that it happened. However, these moments are fleeting, and when he gets called out on showing any sort of kindness, he's quick to rebuff it and get angry at whoever pointed it out.
The most important part to remember is that Emil and Ratatosk are different sides of the same coin-- that is, they're both the same being rather than two separate people. As some of the characters state later on, Emil is most likely Ratatosk's kindness and conscience. Though it may not seem like it at first, the two of them complement each other to make up a complete whole. Emil is Ratatosk, and Ratatosk is Emil. But as things stand, it's going to take them quite a while to be able to recognize and acknowledge that fact.
Abilities: Emil's complete list of artes is over here! Emil is your typical Tales swordsman with such trademark artes as Demon Fang; however, he has numerous artes that are unique to him, and unlike many of the other Tales sword wielders, he has the ability to do aerial combos. At his canon point in game, nearly all of his fighting is done while in Ratatosk Mode; Emil himself has very limited experience with a sword and thus won't be nearly as effective when his Ratatosk side isn't in control.
Alignment: Thras. Emil's self-encouragement mantra is "Courage is the magic that turns dreams into reality," words that he learned from Richter and that he thinks back to whenever he's afraid to do something. And that's rather often; one of the major aspects of Emil's character development throughout the game is conquering his own fears and learning to be braver.
Other: Since Emil is able to make pacts with monsters in his canon and summon them to fight with him, he will be bringing five of those monsters with him. Those monsters will be Sial, his Chimera; Nirai, his Gunna; Tierra, his Wild Rabbit; Nova, his Peallaidh; and Athenos, his Wolf.
He will also be bringing his Sorceror's Ring, an enchanted ring that grants him limited magical powers. Since there are no terminals within Verens to change it, it will be stuck on fire unless some other way to switch its power is found. It also grants him the ability to temporarily stun enemies.
"I guess it could be worse... right, Sial?" Emil directed the question at the chimera trotting by his side, who gave an ambivalent chirp in response. "I mean, at least it's not as cold as it was in Triet, and we have a place to stay here, but... oh, who am I kidding? I can't believe we ended up back in Verens again." He sighed, his attempt at cheering himself up not doing much to lift his spirits.
This was what he'd wanted back when he'd lived in Luin: a place where no one knew him, where they wouldn't look down on him for not venerating Lloyd or accuse him of being a monster for strange happenings beyond his control. A place where people would look at him like they would anyone else and treat him the same way.
That had been what he'd wanted. Now, however, he was growing to realize that having a place where no one knew you wasn't so great when you didn't really know anyone there either. At least in Luin, he hadn't had the experience of having friends to know what he was missing. But now...
In response to his thoughts, a few stray snowflakes appeared in the air above him, drifting slowly down to catch in his blond hair and hang there like tiny decorations. He huffed a deep sigh, breath curling into a frozen spiral in the air in front of him. "I wonder how Marta's doing. She must be worried sick about me." At the mention of her name, the swirl of snowflakes increased briefly, gusting up into a veritable snow shower before settling down again.
Another chirp from Sial; another sigh from Emil. "No, of course I haven't forgotten about Tenebrae. I'm sure he's worried too. He's probably being extra spiteful to everyone else because of it." Though he crossed his arms and frowned, the short burst of snow that followed that statement betrayed how he really felt about that matter to anyone who happened to be looking.
Cheeks red, Emil pointedly chose to ignore the sudden snowfall and quickened his pace down the street. "W-we should go ask around and see if Edea is still here. Then at least I'd have someone else to talk to that isn't a monster... um, not that I don't like talking to you or anything, but you know what I mean. You don't exactly talk back, and it makes me look a little strange to be talking to a monster all the time."
If anyone happened to be within earshot, the sound that followed from the chimera sounded almost offended.