Rhea Zail was an enhanced female human, retired Knight, and a disowned member of the Zail Family. She was the younger sister of Clint Zail and the guardian of Sion Zail whom she taught the fundamentals of sword fighting and combat, among others. More importantly, she taught Sion culture, virtues, and her special heritage traced to Eve Zail. Unlike other Zails, Rhea had a high regard for Eve and eventually inspired Sion to be a heroic savior like her. When Sion became an accomplished Knight, Rhea became part of her retinue, providing significant emotional support and acting like the caring mother figure that she sorely lacked.
Rhea soon retired as a Knight after the First Battle of Tobal due to the punishment of the Zail Council of Elders for her disobedience. She then chose to settle in Tobal, the planet that she saved together with Sion and Clint. She then married her comrade-in-arms Robert Nelson. They had two children together: Ray and Van.
Rhea appears in Another Episode-2 A Village Where You Are and heavily influenced many of the driving characters in the story. She died in CC 430/431 while rescuing survivors in the wake of the Second Battle of Tobal. Despite dying early within the first two chapters of AE-2 covering the Blue Flower attack, her role is greatly highlighted in several flashback arcs.
Rhea appears as a petite, attractive woman with blonde hair and green eyes. She has her hair done in an elaborate style which involves letting it hang loose while braids encircle the top section. The braid is held fastened by a black ribbon. Rhea appears to be aware of her feminine qualities and often wears revealing clothes in dark colors.
Rhea possessed a pleasant, gentle personality with a bit of shy naivety mixed with eccentricity and childishness. She forever held a passionate fascination of Ralph the White Knight, the eponymous hero of an animated cartoon series targeted for young children. She would often quote and draw life lessons from the said cartoons. It can be said that this fascination actually reflects Rhea for who she is deep down: an impossibly kind and optimistic person who saw good in everything. She also earnestly wished to protect everyone around her to the best of her abilities.
When she was appointed to be Sion's babysitter, Rhea sincerely cared for her ward and wanted to provide Sion with all the warmth and love that she did not received. At the same time, Rhea wanted to live to the childhood expectations of Sion who idolized her. Unbeknownst to Sion, Rhea actually looked up to her own ward whom she both admired and feared. It was hinted that Rhea initially felt inferior by the fact that her ward became a much better Knight than she ever was. Despite this, she eventually overcame wallowing on such emotions to genuinely and wholeheartedly support Sion from the sidelines.
Rhea was born as the youngest child of a branch unit of the Zail family. It was implied that their branch fell out of favor when a rival branch replaced the main unit and ascended as the head of the family. As a consequence, Rhea's branch had to suffer intense scrutiny and demands from the Head and the Council of Elders who isolated them and pushed it to remoteness. Though she knew and even experienced firsthand the unjustified abuses to their branch, Rhea did not harbor ill intentions to the main unit.
Rhea grew up with her overprotective yet caring older brother, Clint, and eventually entered Knighthood as is the expectation for all Zail family members.
Upon graduating from the Knight Training Organization, Rhea was called back by the Zail Elderly Council for urgent matters. She was then introduced to Sion Zail and assigned as the latter's guardian. This was implied to be a form of harassment as Rhea would have to contend to "babysitting" instead of fulfilling proper Knightly deeds in the battlefield where she can reap fame and honor. Despite the humiliating assignment, Rhea actually did her duties properly and even went beyond what was expected by devoting herself to Sion. The two then shared deeper bonds as they soon became like mother and daughter to each other. Clint soon also joined his sister in guarding Sion in order to protect Rhea.
Rhea taught Sion a great deal of things covering natural sciences, literature, history, and social sciences. She also impressed upon Sion that she and her biological mother, Eve, are not bane existences nor failures. This led to her encouraging Sion to eventually do heroic deeds as a method of boosting Sion's own confidence on herself and to prove others wrong. Rhea soon taught Sion basic swordsmanship for fun. They would held their own mock duels wherein Sion initially always lost. When her ward activated the battle instincts within her and won for the first time, Rhea was shown surprised and at a lost for words. She then continued giving further training but it became evidently clear that Sion was now way ahead of her. Nevertheless, Rhea found content in taking care of Sion.
Their day-to-day idyllic life was broken when Grant Zail, a powerful heir candidate for the Zail Head position, made a surprise inspection. Grant was notorious for being arrogant, pompous, and condescending. Moreover, he viewed Rhea and Sion as nothing more but insects due to their status. Thus when the Rhea and Sion encountered Grant, a huge fight erupted. Grant began harassing the two with Rhea offering no resistance at all. Frustrated by the situation, Sion then defended Rhea and challenged Grant to a duel. Grant accepted due to his overconfidence on his innate talents but Sion was able to knock him out unconscious. In retaliation, Vidan, Grant's father and the current Head, punished Sion's to be deployed to the most dangerous missions as a Knight under the Zail family name - in effect, a death sentence. Rhea and Clint were also punished by having to perpetually accompany Sion wherever she goes with the stipulation to keep her "under control" i.e. execute her if she brings further shame to the carefully-guarded reputation of the Zails.
Rhea closely followed Sion in all of her missions and keenly supported her no matter the danger involved. As a result, she received severe injuries and was exposed to irradiation. Her skin now showed scars and burns from the battlefield. Rhea accepted her fate as Sion's constant companion since she felt guilty that her innocent attempt to entertain her ward through swordsmanship tutorial have led them to this situation. Clint advised Rhea to stop accompanying Sion but she had already dedicated her life in being her ward's support. He then came to despise Sion because of this, believing that Sion was taking advantage of Rhea's kindness.
Among Sion's missions, Rhea notably participated in the Lion War in the resource planet Hapiu where she assisted Sion in slaying EX-Type Zero Land Slayer. This achievement merited Sion the title of Zero Breaker as well as the envious position as the Top Sword. The Zail family was then congratulated and recognized for "raising" such a talented Knight. Due to the overflowing prestige that Sion received personally, the Zail family was left with no choice but to acknowledge her feats. To show their "gratitude", she was then granted her own fief: the destitute and remote mining planet of Damir. Rhea still went with Sion to Damir and assisted her in administering over the planet.
Despite dangerous missions still coming in and the harsh conditions of their domain, Rhea, Sion, and Clint soon found peaceful life in Damir. Unfortunately, their peace was shattered by the unexpected attack of EX-Type Zero Rabbit. At that time, Sion and Clint was away on a mission and only Rhea was left to defend Damir. She desperately tried to save their subjects but it was all in vain. Sion and Clint returned in haste only to see their new home burning. Rabbit already fled to mount another attack, this time at the Ground Zero in Vine. Rhea apologized profusely for her failure; it was at that moment that she felt how truly small she was compared to her brother or her ward. The Zail family was enraged upon hearing the fall of Damir. Though the planet was more of a liability than an asset, the Zail Head and Council of Elders used this opportunity to oppress Sion once more. As punishment this time, Sion was to recover the Zail family's lost honor by joining the operation to recover Vine's Ground Zero from Rabbit. The Knight Order issued an order to that effect but it was the Zail family which spearheaded the mission as an attempt to show off their power. A special team composed exclusively of Zail Knights were then assembled which included Rhea, Sion, and Clint.
First Battle of TobalEdit
- Main article: First Battle of Tobal
When the team arrived at their designated deployment stage, Sion suddenly withdrew from the mission in favor of being sent to Tobal instead which was also being attacked by another EX-Type Zero, Hyperion. She noted that while Vine's Ground Zero was critical, it was only an uninhabited moon whereas, Tobal, on the other hand, was an inhabited planet with people in desperate need of help - both Vine and Tobal can be saved if only the team would split up.
The team leader warned Sion that despite the good intentions, their orders were to prioritize Vine over Tobal. Sion then resolutely requested to be sent alone to rescue the dying population of Tobal which was eventually granted. Aware that this would be in defiance of their punishment, Rhea still chose to stay with Sion over the easier Vine mission. An embittered Clint also tagged along with them. Upon reaching the surface, Rhea was welcomed as the rumored Top Sword but she immediately corrected the mistake. It was also at this moment that she and her future husband, Robert Nelson, first met.
During the battle, Rhea attempted to support Sion in the best of her abilities but it was not enough. In one of the encounters against Hyperion, Rhea was severely injured and nearly killed due to Mysteltein but the worst blow made was to her own morale. Thereafter, she was then forced to let go of Sion to fight the EX-Type Zero alone. Rhea instead supported the infantry and regular troops fighting the beast army. At the cost of many sacrifices, they eventually won the battle.
Rhea, Sion, and Clint were summoned back by the Zail family to be court-martialed for their disobedience. It mattered not that Hyperion was slain nor an entire planet and its population was saved. To make the situation complicated, Sion was already at the point of death from her fight, thus the Zails lost the prestige of holding the Top Sword position. Rhea and Clint were made to burden the responsibility for defying the priority command. They were summarily expelled from the Knight Order and disowned by the family. Sion on the other hand was not punished as she was protected by her unbesmirchable Cold Hero status.
Rhea went back to settle down in Tobal, specifically in the town that Sion founded during the battle. She helped in developing the community and soon married Robert. They then moved to the capital of Lian as necessitated by Robert's work. Rhea enjoyed her new life as a housewife, finally free from the stringent duties of being a Zail or a Knight. She personally took great care of her sons, Ray and Van, and equally doted on them, although in different ways. She introduced the Ralph the White Knight franchise to them and also inspired the two to pursue Knighthood. After many years of being together, Rhea, feeling strained with her husband's work, requested separation from Robert. She took her sons with her when she moved back to Sion's town. Soon however she was left alone when Ray and Van respectively entered the Knights Academy.
During the Second Battle of Tobal, Rhea assisted in rescue and evacuation efforts as a civilian. She happened to be in Epirin at that moment and managed to survive from the Beast attacks. However, Rhea was soon killed when the disintegrating Blue Flower discharged falling debris that further wiped off large regions on the surface. Epirin then sunk to the sea. Rhea's family blamed her death to the selfish whims of the Knight Order who instructed the destruction of the Blue Flower even when it was still perilously within Tobal's atmosphere. Knight Order made the utilitarian decision to sacrifice the planet to prevent the Blue Flower from escaping and assaulting other planets.
Powers and AbilitiesEdit
As a member of the Zail family, Rhea inherited their carefully guarded "perfect genes" which claims direct descent from the Homunculi. These genetic powers imbued Rhea with enhanced physical prowess that are elevated from normal humans such as faster regeneration, endurance and stamina, and strength. Moreover, she also inherited the paranormal power to manipulate forces - specifically for her, gravity through the Zails' gravity device. She also possessed her family's natural bio-armor which enables her to survive in harsh conditions including the vacuum of space as well as some protection against particle beams and radiation.
However, Rhea's natural talents are deemed weak as it was a minuscule fraction of what the main branch can do. When compared with other Knights, she is seen only as "average". Rhea's true strength lies in her ability to support others be it emotionally or in actual combat.
- Clint Zail
Clint Zail was Rhea's biological older brother. Due to their unfortunate status in the Zail family, Rhea's branch unit had to stick together tightly and be on their guard more. This made Clint fiercely overprotective of Rhea. It was hinted that he had incestuous romantic feelings for his own younger sister.
- Sion Zail
Sion Zail was more than just a ward for Rhea. Rhea compensated for the lost of Sion's mother by giving her the proper attention that she deserves. She firmly believed that Sion would bring happiness and peace to the world.
- Robert Nelson
Rhea and Robert Nelson became acquianted during the First Battle of Tobal. Their first meeting became awkward as Robert mistakenly thought that she was Sion. Add to that, they were also mutually impressed by each other's physical attractiveness. Despite the ongoing battle, the two made time to spend their breaks together. The other soldiers teased them about it saying that the battlefield is not the proper place for a date. Robert immediately married Rhea after her forced retirement from Knighthood and subsequent disownment from the Zail family. They lived happily with their two children: Ray and Van.
Sometime in their marriage, Rhea requested for a temporary separation (but not divorce) due to unclear reasons. It was hinted that this was due to Robert's continued military career and growing anti-Knight political ties. Rhea then moved to Sion's town where she lived together in community with her former comrades. Despite the separation, Rhea and Robert still loved each other deeply. Unfortunately, she died before she can reunite and move back with her husband. Rhea's death provoked Robert to start his revolutionary unification of Tobal.
- Ray Nelson
Rhea told Ray to be strong for both his father and brother. He was then tasked to protect and keep their family in line in lieu of Rhea. Ray was de facto his mother's little assistant even after her death. He continued trying to keep their family from falling apart in respect of Rhea's wishes.
- Van Nelson
Rhea spoiled Van since he was her youngest child. He then grew up to be a mama's boy. Rhea's death proved to be emotionally traumatic Van who felt lost afterwards and guilty for leaving his mother all alone.