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Wilhelm van Astrea (ヴィルヘルム・ヴァン・アストレア), né Trias (トリアス), is a member of the Crusch Camp and was Theresia van Astrea's husband. He is a supporting character in Re:Zero, with especially large roles in Arc 3 and Arc 5. Wilhelm also was the main character in two spinoff novels set roughly 40 years before Arc 1, during his youth–Ex2 and Ex3.

In his youth, Wilhelm fought in the Demi-Human War, where he earned the title of Sword Demon. Following the end of the Demi-Human War and Bordeaux's resignation, he was given the honour of being the new Captain of the Zelgeff Squadron. In roughly a year, Wilhelm then advanced even further, and was given the title of the Captain of the Royal Guard. After his wife was killed by the Hakugei, he vowed to avenge her, left the ranks of Knights and the Astrea Family. Fifteen years later, he finally managed to fulfil his life-long goal of avenging his wife, during the climax of Arc 3. However, in Arc 5, he realizes that his quest caused him to neglect his family, especially his grandson Reinhard, and he tried to make amends. Unfortunately, it ended in tragedy when the Witch Cult reanimated his wife's corpse, forcing Reinhard to kill her and shattering their relationship.

Appearance

Wilhelm is an old but elegant old man with a rather tall and muscular physique which one would not expect from a gentleman his age. Due to his age, he has long bountiful white hair which is perfectly combed back, suggesting his refinement. On his gentle old and wrinkled face, one can see a pair of beautiful sky-blue eyes that reflect wisdom, experience and above all else- elderly warmth. Coupled with his white beard, Wilhelm represents the very essence of a well-mannered and good looking elderly gentleman. Accordingly to his occupation as Crusch Karsten's butler, he's always seen wearing a primarily black butler's outfit which consists of a white shirt over which he wears a vest of also white colour. Over both the vest and the shirt, he's sporting a black, long-sleeved coat with some blue finishing touches around the edges. Matching the attire, his elegant pants are purely black. As a finishing touch, Wilhelm can be seen sporting white gloves and an elegant yet normal black bow-tie. Thanks to his long lasting profession, he has mastered the art of good manners. Most other butlers of his age could not hold a candle to his refined and perfect posture.

In the past, Wilhelm was a very handsome and tall boy with relatively long brown hair which he wore tide back into, similar to how he can be seen wearing it in the present. He had a pair of sky blue eyes and a stern expression, giving off an air of inaccessibility and sternness. As a member of the Royal Army, he could be seen wearing a uniform that greatly resembled the current uniforms of the Royal Guards. In his free time however, he dressed a bit more casually with a long-sleeved, high-collared white shirt and grey vest which paired perfectly with his ashed-brown trousers. Accordingly, with his title of the Sword Devil, he was always seen wearing a sheathed sword around his waist.

Personality

Wilhelm is a refined man with a highly gentle and humble demeanor. However, underneath that even temperament is a fierce warrior who often is the first to help when something happens. This wasn't always the case, as in his youth, Wilhelm was the very opposite of who he was in his later years.: brash, afoot, short tempered, lonely, and often cold with others. He was a troubled individual who devoted himself wholly to the sword and cared for little else. Even so, he knew how to analyze a situation, always finding a way out. Nonetheless, Theresia greatly influenced his personality, which caused him to become increasingly sociable and protective, achieving more results during the Demi-human War. It was through her most of all that he would become the person he is today.

History

Wilhelm was born the third son of the Trias family, who lived in the countryside of the Kingdom of Lugnica. They were an old house of nobility situated in one of the Kingdom’s most remote northern province, which bordered with the Holy Kingdom of Gusteko, and had the responsibly for managing the some of the territories there. Once a proud warrior family, their days of military glory were a thing of the past, and by the time Wilhelm was born, they were little more than a small barony running meagre lands with a small population of serfs. Unlike his much older siblings, Wilhelm had neither the claim to inherent leadership in the family nor the knack for civil governance, leaving him with little hope in his own future prospects until the day he picked up his family's treasured sword. Enchanted by the blade, he would spend 6 years of his youth in the mountains near his home swinging it day and night as it gave him a sense of peace and purpose that his life had lacked up till then and each time he swung it, he felt himself growing stronger. By the time he was 14, he had become the most skilled swordsman in the domain. However, one night, due to a severe quarrel with his eldest brother over his future, he left his family and travelled to the Royal Capital to become a knight.

Re:Zero Ex Light Novel Volume 2 side story

At the time, the country had been going through a civil war with the Demi-Human Alliance, a group of demi-human tribes, for some years that began in its eastern region when Wilhelm enlisted. From the time of his first battle, Wilhelm would stand out and make a name for himself due to his near unparalleled skill despite his age. On the field, he was a ferocious and tenacious soldier who leaped into enemy formations, leaving nothing but scores of corpses as he cut through with reckless abandon and a wicked smile on his face. His daredevil like behavior and action earned him the moniker "Sword Demon" from the royal military forces and foe alike who looked at him in awe, fear, and hatred. However, despite his military achievements and national renown skill, Wilhelm received no promotion. This was partly because he refused, but also since Wilhelm was very anti-social, barely having anyone he called friends, rarely conversing with anyone, and fighting regardless of the danger it brought his allies. Knighthood, which rested on things beyond battle like bonds between people, seemed ill-fitting for him as someone who only fought to suppress the discontent in his heart.

For 3 years, Wilhelm continued to live his life on the battlefield like this until one day, due to the changing conditions of the civil war, he found himself on forced leave in the royal capital for a time. It was during this period that a dissatisfied Wilhelm with too much time on his hands and little to do with it met Theresia in an abandoned construction site within the royal capital where he had come to train regularly. This meeting, although beginning innocuously at first, would eventually change Wilhelm's life in a profound way. Despite his best efforts to remain detached from her company in over 3 months, he found himself increasingly drawn to Theresia, who often rebuffed his crude manners and afoot persona. Unaware of the subtle changes in his heart at first, subconsciously he started looking forward to their ritualistic meetings, which eventually led him to question the real reason why he had continued to walk the path of the sword while he had been avoiding his life up until now. Coming to an epiphany, Wilhelm realized that he had been using it as an excuse to run away from his problems at home. Wanting to do something his older brothers couldn't and support his family in his own way as they did. Accepting this fact, Wilhelm found himself caring about things he hadn't in a long time, becoming less and less concerned with taking the heads of his enemies over prioritizing the safety of his comrades. For such an infamous figure in the royal military, his changes did not go unnoticed and was mostly welcomed among his peers. Wilhelm received calls and support for knighthood once again, but this time, he took it up because he found a new reason to wield his sword, no longer just for his self-satisfaction, but rather to protect the things he cared about and the happiness of one person who became irreplaceable in his life.

Unfortunately, disaster struck shortly after Wilhelm attained his wish when news of the intensifying civil war had spread all the way to far reaches of the northernmost regions of the country where the Trias territory lay. Defying conduct, Wilhelm immediately raced home, only to find his hometown already sacked and faced with more demi-humans forces than he ever fought before. Wilhelm, who seemed to finally be hitting the limits of his ability, would have nearly perished as a result had he not been saved by the newest incarnation of the Sword Saint, who turned out to be none other than Theresia. Feeling humiliated, but captivated by her display of swordsmanship that he could never reach, and most of all indignation at war, society, and his weak self that had forced her to resign herself to the inescapable fate to take up the mantle of "Sword Saint", Wilhelm confronted Theresia, leading them to part ways with their resolve to protect the other. 2 years would pass before they saw each other again at the ceremony to celebrate the end of a decade long war. There, a much stronger Wilhelm entered an ardent dual with Theresia, subsequently defeating her after a close match. Making good on his promise, Wilhelm freed her from the duties and burden of Sword Saint and took them up in her stead so that she could live the life she wanted.

Re:Zero Ex Light Novel Volume 3 side story

Following his intrusion on the Ceremony, Wilhelm was locked up and was awaiting execution, however, after Theresia pleaded with His Majesty, Wilhelm was granted freedom, though he still had to prove himself worthy of taking the burdens of the Sword Saint. It was only after single handedly defeating the entire Zellgef Squadron, that His Majesty granted Wilhelm his wish of freeing Theresia of her duties as the Sword Saint. Not long after, the two married, though not without a fair bit of trouble due to Theresia's father–Veltol Astrea's distrust of him. Following their marriage, the Sword Devil and the Sword Saint went on a honeymoon across the Dragon Kingdom of Lugnica, visiting many famous cities such as Flanders. Lastly, the pair arrived in Picoutatte–one of the Five Regional Capitals of the Kingdom, and the Kingdom's most important trading hub with the Sacred Empire of Vollachia. There–now accompanied by Carol Remendis and Veltor–they found themselves in a predicament with a dangerous individual who called himself Stride Vollachia. Following a dispute with Veltol, Stride challenged Wilhelm to a duel, though he himself wouldn't fight him as his body was riddled with illnesses. Instead, the young Wolf of Vollachia brought with him the Champion of the Empire–Eight Arms Kurgan. What followed, was a duel between the Lugnica's Sword Demon and Vollachia's War God–a battle that would go down in history as the Silver Flower Dance of Picoutatte. Following their duel, Wilhelm and others returned to the Capital, reporting the events to the King and other heads of the Kingdom.

Sword Demon Battle Ballad side story

In the following months, Stride Vollachia engaged in various deadly rampages across the Kingdom, prompting Wilhelm–and later the entire Royal Army–to search for him, but to no avail. Months following their initial meeting, Stride lead an assault on the Astrea Manor while Wilhelm wasn't home. The result was tragic; using one of his Ten Cursed Meteor Rings, Stride enslaved Carol and made her kill Veltol against her own will. Then, using her to cover his escape, the Wolf of Vollachia fled the scene, but not before kidnapping Theresia as well–who was, at the time, pregnant with Heinkel. What resulted was a subjugation force of two hundred Royal Knights and the Zellgef Squadron marching towards Picoutatte. Before arriving to the city, however, the subjugation force was assaulted by something they never could have imagined–a three headed black dragon. What followed, was an arduous and bloody battle for the city of Picoutatte, that went down in history as The Subjugation of the Evil Dragon. The event concluded with the Evil Dragon tearing apart Stride, and the King successfully summoning the Divine Dragon Volcanica to the city, who killed the Evil Dragon and restored peace to the Kingdom.

In the months following the Subjugation of the Evil Dragon, Theresia gave birth to a boy, who they named Heinkel Astrea. Wilhelm was awarded for his bravery in fighting a dragon and freeing Picoutatte, with the role of the Captain of the Royal Guard. In the following years, the trio lived happily, though their happiness was far from eternal.

Roughly fourteen years before the start of the main story, His Majesty's brother–Ford Lugnica's youngest daughter was kidnapped by unknown thieves, who, according to the rumours, were brought into the Royal Castle by someone from the Royal Guard. Incidentally, right after the kidnapping, one of the Three Great Demon Beasts–Hakugei–made their appearance after years of inactivity. Wilhelm, as the Captain of the Royal Guard, was tasked with retrieving the kidnapped child, while Heinkel–now already a Vice-Captain of the Royal Guard–was tasked with leading a subjugation force against the Hakugei and take the giant beast down. However, Heinkel refused to participate, and instead chose to recommend his mother–Theresia–to lead the subjugation force. Despite Wilhelm being against it and offering to go in her place, Theresia agreed, and lead the subjugation force to the battlefield. She, like most of the Royal Knights present, perished in the battle that forever went down in history as the Great Expedition.

Following the loss of his wife, Wilhelm became distraught. As Reinhard had inherited the Divine Protection of the Sword Saint right amidst the subjugation, Wilhelm started blaming him for Theresia's death, shattering his relationship with the young Sword Saint. In the following weeks, Wilhelm left the Royal Guard, which almost caused the regiment to disband, however luckily, Marcos Gildark was willing to inherit the rank of the Captain of the Royal Guard and pulled the regiment out of peril. Wilhelm then left House Astrea, leaving the family in shambles–especially following Heinkel's wife Louanna's mysterious disease, which she had contracted about three years prior and left Heinkel in a desperate state. Wilhelm, however, payed no attention to that, and turned his back on his family and friends, throwing away his family name and vowing to himself that he'll avenge his wife's death by slaying the Hakugei.

In the present story, Wilhelm has come under the service of Crusch Karsten after leaving the Royal Guard and the House of Astrea nearly 14 years ago to gain her assistance in hunting the White Whale in exchange for his support for her in the Royal Selection. Roughly two months following Subaru's arrival, Wilhelm had successfully managed to slay the Demon Beast and avenge Theresia van Astrea.

Abilities

Master Swordsman: Although self-taught, Wilhelm is extremely skilled with the sword and honed his extraordinary talent for swordsmanship to superhuman levels to where he was able to barely defeat the previous Sword Saint in a duel. He was also considered to be a threat to the Demi-Humans during the Demi-Human War due to his menacing appearance and unparalleled skill that earned him the alias of Sword Demon (剣鬼 Kenki). After the Demi-Human War, he fought Vollachia's strongest warrior two times–their first duel ended in a stalemate, however, their second duel resulted in Wilhelm's clean victory. During his prime, he was regarded as the strongest swordsman Kingdom had to offer[1].

Wilhelm's swordsmanship.

Equipment:

  • Wilhelm wielded his beloved sword, which he named the Holy Sword Astrea (聖剣アストレア Seiken Asutorea). It was given to him by his father-in-law Veltol Astrea, right before his first–and now famed–duel with the Vollachian War God Kurgan. With it, Wilhelm was able to cut two of Kurgan's eight arms clean off during their first duel, and nearly managed to kill him during their second duel, roughly a year after. The sword is currently in his son–Heinkel Astrea's–possession. Currently, Wilhelm uses a variety of swords with protective hilts in combat. All of his current swords belong to House Karsten.

Trivia

  • According to the author, Wilhelm's birthday is May 7.
  • Wilhelm was originally meant to be a simple coach driver however, in the "reader feedback" column at Shousetsuka ni Narou website, a reader left a comment asking for explanation of Wilhelm's character. Tappei then decided to greatly elaborate on his character.
  • Aside from being her servant, Wilhelm acts as Crusch's sword instructor.
  • Out of all the swordsmen Wilhelm encountered, Veltol Astrea is the one he respected the most, despite the latter being below average with the sword.
  • If Theresia and Wilhelm never met, he would have died some time during the Demi-Human war.
  • It has been stated that Wilhelm's skill with a sword in his prime, was on par with Cecilus Segmunt.
  • During his era, Wilhelm van Astrea was the strongest swordsman alive.
  • Wilhelm has his own named chapter in Arc 3, in both the Web and Light Novels, as well in the Anime.

References

  1. "You are the Sword of our Kingdom. Our sharpest, most precious steel that can fight against this unprecedented danger" Sword Demon Battle Ballad Act 7: Section 2.


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