love lost

"The past can bind a man as surely as irons."
For a guy that dies just five minutes into the beginning of the game, Prince Rasler seems to have a bigger role in the story than some of the playable characters. Not much is known about his background, just that he was prince of Nabradia and wed to Ashe two years before the game, for what is presented as political reasons. He's presented as a noble and loyal character overall from what we see. He and Ashe were together for only a short time, but we do get a good idea of the nature of their relationship as the storyline develops. It's strongly suggested that there was more to Ashe and Rasler's marriage than political tactics; Ashe's memories indicate that there was some genuine affection between them. In the opening movie of their marriage ceremony, the two at least look very happy together, and a flashback that Ashe has on the way to Archades seems to affirm the fact that they cared about each other. It offers a glimpse into what seems like a rare private moment between the couple during their short time as one. While looking out over the city, the two have the following conversation:
Rasler: A marriage of convenience. A symbol of the alliance between Nabradia and Dalmasca. This is how they see our match.
Ashe: They do, do they?
Rasler: These roles we play. I must admit I find it... wearying.
Ashe: I will play mine.
Rasler: I would have no other.
Ashe's emotional attachment to Rasler even proves to be one of the central themes of her story and also something that she needs to come to terms with. From the moment we first see her clothed in black and mourning at Rasler's funeral, it's clear that her husband's death hit her hard. The game formally begins two years after his passing, but Ashe is still wears her wedding ring after all that time. At one point Balthier slyly picks up on how important the ring is to her, and asks for it in exchange for transporting the princess. Ashe is visibly reluctant to let it go, but she does give Balthier the ring with some obvious disdain for the sky pirate's request. The Occuria pick up on Ashe's attachment to the past as well: they create the illusion of Rasler in order to make Ashe carry out their wishes. Rasler's memory is a huge part of what fuels Ashe's need for revenge, which is what the Occuria want, and overcoming that need is a major turning point in the story.

The game's storyline builds up to the moment when Ashe must decide to become "the chosen one" of the Occuria and destroy the Empire or take on Vayne by her own means. She ultimately decides to shun the will of the gods and not give in to the lure of Nethicite's power. This decision is epitomized in the moment when Ashe strikes Rasler's ghost with the Treaty Blade, stating that Rasler was not one to take revenge. She realizes that he would not have wanted her to use the destructive power of Nethicite, and it's here that Ashe finally comes to terms with her past. By no means is she forgetting Rasler's memory; she's honoring it by realizing that she should make the choice that he, the Rasler she married, would have wanted her to make.

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