“You know of the importance of the Fire Emblem. It's the symbol of the heir, the heart of the ceremony. Without the Emblem, the ceremony must be canceled.”
—King Desmond to Hellene
Desmond was married to Hellene of Etruria, Zephiel's mother, but this marriage was forced on him for political reasons when he had wanted to marry an unnamed commoner who later became his mistress and Guinivere's mother.
Described as a man of average skill and intellect, as well as a tyrant, Desmond viewed Zephiel as emblematic of his hated marriage to Hellene and believed Zephiel was plotting against him despite Zephiel idolizing his father and only wanting to make his father proud at this point. This was heightened by Desmond's jealousy of the gifted and well liked Zephiel. He also despised Zephiel's relationship with his favored daughter Guinivere and actively tried to tear them apart (such attempts seemed to verge on cruel, such as ordering the death of Guinivere's pet fox because it was given to her by Zephiel). This jealously would lead him to declare that Guinivere's husband would be the next king of Bern, but when Zephiel did not mind this, the calls of the common people following would cause Desmond to turn to another method: assassination.
Desmond would make a deal with Nergal's morph Sonia, that if the Black Fang killed Zephiel, then Bern would not interfere in their plans. The plan failed, some years later as Zephiel's popularity grew, Desmond would resort to poisoning Zephiel's wine, causing him to seemingly die. He had planned to blame Zephiel's greatest supporters, Zephiel's mother Hellene and his tutor Murdock, for the murder and exile them from Bern. However Zephiel and Murdock concocted a plan of their own, resulting in Zephiel killing Desmond at the prince's "funeral" by stabbing him when he checked on Zephiel's coffin.