Part 41: Chapter 19 - Mission
One of the nice things about axes as a weapon type is their relative cheapness. Steel Axes are so cheap that I was able to pile on +9 Crit in addition to the usual maxed Mt and additional Hit. This is one awesome goddamn axe here.
Fitting, given who we're naming it after.
I wasn't really sure what I'd want to do with Ulki at this point; that means he gets the Demi Band.
While we're at it, it's time for Mist to realize her destiny.
She carries the Sonic Sword into battle, and may even get to actually use it sometime!
I hope they are prepared to pass into oblivion. For this will be their final resting place!
I've even heard they have a betrayer in their midst. And yet they still march on... What an odd group. But as long as Kilvas stands at the side of Daein, they have no future. Ah, I suppose they're just unlucky.
Oh boy... I really don't like where this is going...
How will you proceed?
No tricks. Nothing fancy. We'll hit them from the front--fast and hard.
I'm sure you're already aware of this, but if you don't do something about Kilvas, you're at a disadvantage.
Yes, I've heard about the ravens... But even so, it's not as if we can turn tail and run away.
Now that I think on it, King Kilvas and Prince Reyson used to be close friends.
It seems that Naesala was responsible for Reyson's capture at the hands of Duke Tanas. I can't really blame him.
You could command them to do it.
There's an antagonism between the tribes that we don't understand. I'd rather not force the issue. Trying to coerce them into it would be... unfair. I will let them do as they please.
That is so very like you. However, giving orders that are unpopular is often necessary when one is in command, and--
Maybe so. But I can only do things the best I know how. My own way.
Come, it's time to go!
So, then. This chapter.
Fuck this chapter.
First, let's observe the only meaningful Hard Mode Change:
Several of the enemy Ravens are close to transforming. Normally, you'd get a few turns before you had to deal with any of them, during which they wouldn't attack and you'd be free to advance and generally do useful stuff.
But that's no biggie, right? They're just Ravens, right? Ravens are pretty ineffectual at this point. We can totally take them!
Well, slow down there. First, we've got some other problems to deal with. Like Ballistas. Ballistae? Ballisti? Whatever. They're big, moderately powerful, stationary, and manned by archers, they count as bows, and have as much range as siege tomes. They have high Mt but don't take the user's Strength into account. That means, keep your flyers the fuck away from these things, because their entire damage output is doubled when they're being Effective. Dealing with these things is going to be a pain, since they're kind of hard to reach for anyone except flyers.
Fortunately, we are blessed with the Full Guard accessory, to which Janaff is going to owe his life several times over when all's said and done. And if you think the game mechanics are clever enough to allow Ballista/e/s to be correctly affected by the Beorcguard, then boy, do you have a dead hawk coming.
Another problem we have is this rather singular Raven over here.
Yes, this one might be one of our bigger problems.
He's got skills, too! But what's...
Hrm. That's... something. But yeah, Naesala here is a problem, alright. The guy can one-round Astrid.
It should be pretty obvious, however, that we're not actually going to fight him, but pull off some Talking and get him to leave. So what's the big deal with this map?
Well, the big deal is the final piece of bullshit that ties everything in this map together; if you want "everything" (read: a rather awesome item), you've got to clear this map without killing any Ravens. Remember when you thought that being able to destroy Ravens in your sleep wasn't a liability?
There are a few ways to deal with all these requirements, but the first one is to have the Laguzguard find its way back to Jill and send her on a little mission.
I call it Operation Bird Feeder. You can probably figure out the details for yourself.
We're going to want to quickly and efficiently deal with the non-Raven enemies in our path. Ike is both of these things.
Up we move.
Astrid is attacked.
Remember the Weapon Triangle? Remember when it meant something? Well, OK, it still does, kinda, but with enough numbers you can just shrug it off.
Ike is Ballista'd, but it's not really much of a thing.
This, however, could be a thing. That there is a Warrior with a Killer Axe.
It turns out not to be a thing either.
Homasa has a small troop of Myrmidons with him. They advance.
Meanwhile, the newly not-racist Jill begins her new assignment of being repeatedly attacked by Ravens.
It's our turn again, and Operation Bird Feeder continues. From this position, Jill can attract the attention of both the first Raven and the one that's going to transform next turn.
Rolf disposes of our Killer Axe friend, and said weapon passes into our possession.
Nephenee and Mia conspire to feed this Fighter to Volke.
Astrid, meanwhile, proceeds to clear the Archer off of the first Ballista.
Free of the threat of being deathly vulnerable to that second Ballista up there, Janaff moves to lure some of the enemy Wyvern Riders down.
End of turn 2.
Soren's turn to be shot.
Janaff's plan goes about as well as it could have gone.
Meanwhile, this archer attacks Ike. Whatever.
Then a Myrmidon wielding an Armorslayer decides to attack Astrid. Right.
Okay, fine, maybe the Weapon Triangle isn't useless then.
Hilarious side effect of Astrid's attack failing; Homasa's entire Myrmidon crew all go after Ike.
Really, he's just fine with this.
And, as is inevitable in any prolonged conflict with Ike...
Some idiot trips Aether.
And gives Ike all his HP back.
Also, this level. Defence!
Jill's doing her thing just fine.
The third location for Operation Bird Feeder is here. The next Raven is already transformed, so we want him out of the way.
Wyvern Riders are great food for Rolf.
Mia, Marcia and Volke all clean up, and Astrid heads east. She's using her bow here so that, in the event a Raven attacks her (at melee range), she won't accidentally kill him.
Ike comes over too, to prevent this Soldier getting near Volke. He unarms himself.
Janaff takes a deep breath, and flies into the very edge of Naesala's range. We end turn.
Silly enemy Soldier.
There's a Priest here, though, so he gets healed.
Now it's Mia's turn to take an arrow to the face.
Janaff also attracts the attention of the enemy Wyvern Lord. He still dodges.
And, of course, here's Naesala.
You know the true nature of my fellow ravens, so...
When they said "Attacks with the same effect as Wind" in the description of Vortex, they really just meant "Naesala can cast Elwind", complete with all the wonderful technicalities that entails - most importantly, being a Magic vs Resistance check. Naesala has 31 Strength (plus 8 Mt from his Beak), but only 17 Magic (plus 4 Mt from Vortex). The difference works to our very great advantage. It's still a double, but it's survivable.
Operation Bird Feeder experiences a critical failure as a Raven attacks Mia. Fortunately, she doesn't kill it.
One of Tibarn's flock, eh? You are his "eyes," if I'm not mistaken.
It's not enough that you sold the White Prince to humans? Now you're fighting against laguz?
You hawks rescued Reyson didn't you? So everything worked out in the end! What's the problem?
I'd like you to repeat those words to the prince's face.
Helped him? Are you saying a human came to the aid of Reyson? A laguz?
Yes! And he rescued Princess Leanne, too!
Leanne... is alive?
Don't play the fool! You know the life of the forest has returned. That was their power at work.
I see. That's how the forest... Of course.
Listen up, crow! You need to fly over there and talk to the prince. If you don't do it, I'm gonna know that you really are the enemy and report that back to King Tibarn. Think it over!
(Ulki's version of this conversation is pretty much identical)
We're not done yet, though. Next, we have to get Naesala to talk to Reyson.
Just for giggles, here's what Janaff's numbers vs Naesala look like. Yeah... no.
Instead, he attacks the Wyvern Lord.
Astrid and Volke take down the Soldier who was being boxed in.
The end of another turn. Note that we've pulled our guys back for the time being, and also that there was no way to get Reyson both inside Naesala's range and outside the Wyvern Lord's. Don't worry, though. He'll live. Barely.
I love the Full Guard.
Hey, Reyson! Look at you! You look sharp, kid!
Oh, so you can talk.
You... How dare you show your face to me!
Well, I have been called brazen before. Some have gone so far as to say shameless. Come on, at least let me give you a reason.
Begone! My ears are closed to you.
(Localization oddity: In the NA version, Reyson refers to Oliver as a "foul, bloated man" instead of a "wretched sack of lard". Why? Who the hell knows, man.)
I didn't really sell you! Besides, I planned on rescuing you right away. You were just impatient and flew away on your own, so--
Are you blaming me?
No, no! Well, maybe... I mean... It was I who was in the wrong. On all accounts.
No one was hurt in the end. Come on, smooth those ruffled feathers. All right?
Leanne is alive.
Yes, Tibarn's attendant told me. That's wonderful news. When he sees her face, I'm sure King Lorazieh will begin to feel better at once. Things are really looking up, aren't they, Reyson?
... I suppose that... If you hadn't deceived me and taken me to the forest... We might not have discovered her... So, I will forgive you. Just this once!
Oh, come now, Reyson. That's asking too much--
What will you do, then? Will you continue to fight the Crimean army to which I'm in service?
Very well. You win, Reyson. I'll leave and take my soldiers with me. However, I cannot say what the future will bring. I have the fate of my nation to consider after all.
Hmm... Very well.
So, we're friends again? Come to Kilvas for a visit, will you? Nealuchi will be so pleased.
I'll do that. When this war is over, Leanne and I will both come.
Oh, and as for Tibarn...
I'll speak with him. There's no need for you to worry.
Thank you. Farewell. And watch yourself! This is war, you know?
And since we've managed to get this far without killing any Ravens, we get a bit extra:
It's a human trinket. It's called a knight ring.
Something made by beorc?
Don't make such a disgusted face. I tried it, and it proved to be quite useful.
Understood. I'll take it for now.
Don't get killed, Reyson. If anything were to happen to you... Nealuchi would never let me hear the end of it.
Naesala... Thank you.
We'll find out all about this next chapter, but in the meantime, here's something much more immediately relieving:
Note how Naesala and all the Ravens have now turned into Other units.
This means the Daein soldiers will now start attacking them. Believe it or not, this is a bad thing. The Ravens are worth BEXP if they escape, you see.
Incidentally, Naesala has some more unique battle dialogue:
From where I'm sitting, you look to be the leader of your group. Do you like the way we fight? If you double Daein's payment, we will be quite happy to join your cause against Daein.
Are you serious?
Of course! We're not with Daein for the pleasant conversations. For the right price, we'll do as you like.
I've no need of an ally who would betray me for a handful of coin.
Is that so? Then I've no more use for you. I suppose I'll just have to kill you.
What's this? Well, if it isn't one of my beloved hawk cousins. As you can see, Kilvas has sided with Daein. Try not to think too poorly of us.
Betrayer of laguz! I'll tear those black wings off your back!
You Gallians are with Crimea, we with Daein. We're both helping one side. I'd like you to tell me how that makes us the betrayers.
Crimea and Daein are not the same!
Oh, but they are. They're both home to laguz-hunting, laguz-hating humans. Granted, Daein's anti-laguz sentiment is more obvious, but... Surely you realize there's no great difference between it and Crimea... Or Begnion, for that matter.
You may think yourself a warrior, but the humans have tamed you. Allow me to open your eyes!
King of the raven folk... Why do you fight for Daein?
Kilvas has need of much gold if we are to become more than a paltry island kingdom. Daein is willing to fill our coffers, and so we work with them. There is nothing more to it. Remember, it's not who you work with that's important--it's how much they're willing to pay.
So you fight for gold, is that it?
Nothing wrong with that, is there? Everyone fights for some kind of gain. Even you, am I right?
That is... not untrue. But--
No matter how hard you try, your kind will never understand the hearts and minds of ravens. You appear to be an obstinate creature... Just like your king.
And with Muarim:
You're not of the Gallia beast tribes, are you? Laguz slaves! Bah! Instead of baring your claws and escaping, you moan and cry! What a pack of fools.
Hah! Cat got your tongue? Unless you're incapable of speech, you're either angry or frightened. Either way, you're pathetic. If you'd stayed in your cage, you wouldn't need to die here, hmm?
He also has death dialogue, in the ludicrously unlikely event that he dies (he doesn't actually die, though, just "retreats").
As an Enemy:
Guaa... I was careless... and you're better than expected. To me, my brethren! We leave at once!
And as an Other:
N-no... This cannot be... Is this... my... fate? What of Kilvas--
This is how much an un-Full-Guarded Raven gets fucked up by a Ballista hit.
On the Other Phase, several Ravens run the hell away.
Some Ravens, however, are really dumb and hang around trying to heal while still in Ballista range.
Our turn again: Marcia rolls the crit dice and wins big.
Reyson's also transformed now, so we get some four-way chants going.
Janaff's about to de-transform, but he holds out long enough to kill the second Ballistician.
For old time's sake, Volke steals the Priest's Mend staff.
Lord knows there wasn't any other point to that.
This Raven isn't worth any BEXP dead, so Mist flings a Physic his way.
I think "abandoned" would be more accurate, but--
Idiot! It's the same thing! Aaaargh! Accursed sub-humans! We should never have trusted them.
To think, Janaff isn't even the one with the passive boost to Avoid.
Goddamnit. Why do you need to be at full health before you run away?
We send another Physic his way.
Annoyingly, we can't kill the Archer this turn, but we can sure almost kill him, and since he's got a Vulnerary, he may opt to not attack the Raven again on his turn.
Almost ready to charge.
Even untransformed, Janaff's no slouch.
That goddamned Raven finally runs away.
Ulki tags in to take on the Wyvern Rider.
A lucky crit leaves said Rider on 2HP.
Jill gladly disposes of that Archer.
Marcia finishes off Ulki's friend.
Now, this boss.
Fancy yourself a Sonic Swordsman, eh?
...he doesn't move. So...
We go to him. Wow, you're really not very good at using that thing, are you?
Well, that was productive.
Astrid briefly dispatches one of his minions...
...while Ike has a little word with Homasa.
Really? Then we are the same. My father taught me to wield a sword as well. Neither of us can afford to lose.
I think Ike's father was better than Homasa's father. Just a hunch.
Rolf does the honours.
Well. That's certainly an outfit change.
And those are some numbers going up. Holy shit! Three strength? Someone's gunning for our A-Team.
Homasa also has some dialogue with our Laguz friends.
I've fought many of your kind before, and I know all of your techniques. Will you challenge me even so?
We face hawks, too? Oh, what a test this will be!
Cutting one who carries no blade lacks style... and yet it cannot be avoided on the battlefield.
Oh, and he's got some appreciation of Myrmidons/Swordmasters not named Mia:
You are a swordsman as well. And, it appears, quite skilled! May I ask for a duel?
I dislike contests with strangers, but I don't think I can refuse. Can I?
It seems you're quite a fencer. Shall I teach you something?
Sheathe your blade. If that's all the skill you possess, you're not ready to challenge me.
What? Have at you!
If you managed to kill Homasa without dealing with Naesala first, you get this scene now:
King Naesala, the Daein army has been routed!
How nice. What a lot of braggarts they turned out to be. Very well, let us withdraw as well.
Are you sure? If we retreat now, what will General Petrine say?
Promises made to humans are worth less than a dead snake. Forget about her. Losing the remainder of our payment stings, but still... You can't buy your life back, can you?
Good point. Well made, sir.
Fly, my darkwings! We return to Kilvas!
Yeah, if we had continued to fight them, we would have suffered more casualties than this. I must extend thanks to Reyson.
Princess Elincia. I'm fine. I'm unharmed.
Oh, that's good...
And if you don't mind, Princess Elincia, would you join us as well? Please join me in that building.
What could it be?
Let's go see.
(Certain lines are pruned from this scene if you didn't make the Ravens retreat. You can probably figure it out)
Incredible, no? It's gold. All of it.
Daein must be filthy rich! There's so much, it doesn't even seem real. What do we do with it?
In that case, I'd like to borrow fifty thousand. Would that be all right?
That's a lot of money. What are you planning on doing?
It's a private matter...
I apologize, Commander. You're not a child. There's no reason for me to pry.
My lord Ike, please use this gold for the mercenary company. Until now, I haven't had the resources to adequately pay them. So please...
No, if I may borrow the fifty thousand, that will be more than--
You won't borrow it, you'll accept it! And in good faith. The remainder we'll give to Soren for company maintenance. Would that be all right, Princess Elincia?
Yes, of course.
I already heard, you dunderhead! I hated those filthy crows right from the start. Even so, to be betrayed in such a fashion... Grrr... Someone will pay for this! Oh, you certainly had your way with us, didn't you, King Kilvas? But if you want to make an enemy of Daein, then so be it! Once Gallia's fallen, we'll turn our attention to your puny nation and wipe it off the face of the world!
Why are you still there? Do you find me amusing?! Shall I make my lance dance for you?
N-no, ma'am! No! Never! N-not at all! I beg your pardon! So sorry... I'll be... going... now...
I need... something. A brilliant plan... If this continues much longer, the king will have my head.
You've waited a long time. Take this. It's the gold you were promised.
Finally scraped it together, eh? I'll gladly accept it.
Aren't you going to count it?
There's no need. I'll trust you.
All right, then I'll take what was promised. The report you wrote for my father.
There is no report. Never was.
You lied to me? You exploited my need to know more about my father!?
There is something I must tell you. However, it could not be written down. It is too great of a secret for that. Your father told me to wait until I thought you were mature enough to hear it, and then to tell you myself.
Mature? Then what was the fifty thousand gold for?!
Get started. I want to hear it all.
I've spent a long time as Greil's hired shadow. A long time. I remained hidden from sight in case the day ever arrived that I needed to fulfil my contract... All that time, for one job.
What was it?
Actually, there was one other thing. If Greil were ever slain by his pursuers... I was to watch over his son and tell him Greil's secret at an appropriate time. That was my job.
Berserk... What are you talking about? Why would you have to kill my father?
What medallion? What are you talking about?
Huh? That old bronze thing? I thought it was just a keepsake of my mother's... Are you telling me that it's something more?
Greil told me it was an object of great peril, but nothing more. I did some investigating on my own, though. And what I discovered... surprised me.
Lehran was one of the heron clan, an ancestor of our Prince Reyson, who carried with him a bronze medallion. Long, long ago, a band of heroes defeated an evil god and imprisoned it therein.
Unfortunately, I'm not. And I've no idea how the cursed thing came to be in Greil's possession. That being said, I do know that the men who hunted your father were actually seeking the medallion. Why they wanted it and what they planned to do with it... Just thinking about it gives me chills.
I'm finding all of this a little hard to believe. You said the medallion was "an object of great peril," didn't you?
It's because she can carry it safely. Actually, she's the only one who can. If you want proof, think back. Have you ever once touched it?
... No. I haven't. A long time ago, I remember reaching out for it while Mist had it in her hand... My father scolded me harshly. After that, I assumed... it was my sister's alone, and I never reached for it again.
Compared to other people, the balance within your sister is extremely strong. Your mother, it seems, was the same. That's why they could bear it safely. The medallion is like a strong poison. It takes the worst aspects of a person and magnifies them a thousandfold. Greil touched it only once, and it drove him to complete madness.
So that's what you meant when you said he went berserk?
That's right. Beorc and laguz are made up of two forces: balance and chaos. In this, there is no difference between us. It is the proportion of balance to chaos that determines how much the medallion affects a person. In that sense, it predicts how much harm that person might do.
Your father was one of the preeminent swordsmen of his generation. That day, after he touched the medallion... Twenty soldiers had come for him. Twenty highly trained killers. Your father barely broke a sweat cutting them down. Then he began attacking his neighbors, those who had taken him in, concealed his identity, and called him friend. He slew them one by one, until your mother rushed in... thinking only to save her husband from himself.
It was over in an instant. Your mother grabbed the medallion from his hand and stepped away from him... They say she smiled as he pulled his sword from her breast and forgave him as her life's blood spilled into the street.
My father... killed my mother? No. That can't be...
It was the medallion. Its power is too great for any man. Even one of your father's caliber. Me? You? If either of us touched it, I'm certain that we both would have been consumed by madness.
He said he had need of someone like me: closemouthed, skilled, and most importantly, willing to do any sort of work. Of course, after hearing what he wanted me to do, I turned him down. Greil was once a famed general... He was Sir Gawain, one of Daein's Four Riders, and I recognized him at once. There was no chance someone like me would ever be able to stop him.
But you took the job anyway... Why did you change your mind?
Greil had lost his wife, and his grief was overpowering. To keep anything like that from happening again, he crippled himself. He slashed the tendons in his sword hand so that he could not wield a sword again. I took the job only because he had become someone my skill could handle. And even then, he was still far stronger than most men...
I... I don't know what to say...
I now entrust to you the responsibility of seeing that the medallion does not fall into the wrong hands. Your sister must keep it.
... As my father lay dying, he told me to forget everything and live in peace. What did he mean?
He didn't want you to lose yourself and go hunting for revenge, I suppose. He was killed much, much sooner than he ever expected to be.
So my father's dying wish was for me to protect the medallion? If I can do that, everything will be all right?
I believe so. At the very least, that must take precedent over everything else.
If Volke is "dead" or you declined his services all those chapters ago, you'll get this tidbit now:
Well then, my work here is done.
Whatever you decide to do now is up to you.
If I call, can I count on your assistance again?
If I'm not busy with anything else, I might agree to work for you again. Farewell.
If he's not dead, and whether or not you hired him, you'll then get this:
What is it?
Do you want to hire me? In the event that you go berserk someday? If we make a deal now, you won't have to worry about it anymore.
Once again, there is no reason not to comply.
Well, damn. Dramatic plot dump out of nowhere! And complete with one of the niftiest plot-promotions in all of Fire Emblem. We'll talk about what all this means for Volke in the next update.
The limit's nine turns, which we're comfortably inside, and we get 30 EXP for each Raven that escapes - y'know, when they're not hanging around Ballistas using Vulneraries like total dumbasses.