Part 28: Battle 13: Hot Sands Showdown
Fire Support Element
At Sauzer's invitation, we've come to confront him and the forefront of his armies in the burning sands of the desert outside of Dafila for a battle to decide the fate of our rebellion.
Terrain: This battle will take place in the open desert around Dafila, negating all questsions of concealment and observation. The terrain is marked by occasional desert forests which, despite their sparseness, are at risk of being set afire in the course of the battle. Avenues of approach are constricted due to antlion pits scattered across the map, which present an obstacle that must be avoided. Finally, the area is known for occasional sandstorms that can strip the skin from a person. As a result, any kind of shelter from these storms constitutes key terrain.
Disposition: The enemy has brought some of their most elite forces to this battle and arrayed them in a defensive screen between our forces and Sauzer. There is no particular artfulness to their deployment, although care should be taken when considering the left wing of Sauzer's forces, composed of a number of elite soldiers and detachment of cure sorcerers, which is in a position to flank our main assault. In addition to soldiers, javeliners, and magic users, the enemy has deployed a final screen of Centurions to protect Sauzer and Palpaleos.
Enemy's most likely/most dangerous course of action: The enemy will most likely concentrate their magical attacks on individual units in an attempt to batter them into submission and follow up with indirect fire and direct attacks. Flanking movements can be expected, and the enemy will send their centurions forward if the situation becomes desperate.
The KRF will conduct a penetrating attack across the enemy's front immediately in order to destroy the Granbelos capability in the Dafila area and kill or capture Sauzer.
Concept of the Operation/Scheme of Maneuver: Our forces will advance on Sauzer's position in a direct attack with myself and Matelite leading the movement. Lukia and Mist's units will follow and provide support to destroy enemy hard points, while Zora will position the rear defense element to prevent the enemy from exploiting our flanks. Sendak and Yoyo will provide medical support, maintaining a position within easy reach of all of our units.
When the fight began our forces were close enough to exchange challenges pre-battle, somehow making the fight even more personal.
Matelite even managed to give a speech that was halfway to being inspirational.
Palpaleos was more concerned about the fact that Yoyo wasn't here. Are we sure that he's on the right side?
Sauzer claims that he's the only one who can deal with the Holy Dragons, but I haven't heard anything about him summoning them in battle. I think his mastery isn't as complete as he thinks.
Bolstered by Jeanne's sprinting ability Matelite and his troops were the first to close on the enemy, completely demolishing a lancer unit with a combination of Clyde's dragonbreath, their own powerful single target attacks, and Jeanne's tower strikes.
Lukia's mages were able to strike out at the enemy using poison attacks in order to cripple their ability to fight. While not quite as powerful as some of their other abilities, their poison spells do have the benefit of leaving a lasting weakness in the enemy. Unfortunately, this drew the enemy's attention to them.
As I had feared, the enemy mages concentrated their thunder spells and javelin throws on Lukia and her troops to such an extent that the air itself was distorted around them.
Author's Note: Or a persistent glitch with full screen effects cropped back up...if you're playing along at home and this happens, the easiest way to clear it is to go into the party's menu and pull up a screen, then back out of it.
When the dust cleared only Lukia was still standing, and her only barely.
Our medics were able to keep the unit in the fight, although it was close run thing.
Lukia and her mages weren't the only ones having problems. Blinky charged into battle against some of the enemy's weakest troops in this fight, only to be met with a hail of grenades.
As his unit moved up to support him they faced the same attacks...
With devastating consequences. Nelbo was the only person still standing and things looked grim for the group.
Luckily Yoyo and Sendak's group were able to use their spells to provide a battlefield resurrection, while Sue of all dragons showcased newfound healing ability to bolster their health.
While that was going on, Clyde flew over and threw himself into the fight to keep the enemy occupied.
Thankfully the enemy's medics were as short-sighted as usual, ignoring their wounded comrades. The predictability of their reactions is easily exploitable.
Coming up alongside Matelite's unit, I was able to lead my unit in an attack on the enemy's other javelin formation. Unfortunately we weren't able to destroy the javeliners, but stripped away their protection and weakened them so a follow-up could finish them.
Fully recovered, Lukia's unit struck back at the mages who'd nearly crippled them and began the process of softening them up.
Matelite led a charge past that group and attacked the far set of mages, ignoring the heavily armored troop and pushing past him to destroy the mages that he was supposed to be protecting.
The mages that had been struck by our fire spells had a far harsher fate in store, burning to death in the middle of a forest fire. After the devastation they'd wrought, I was hard pressed to feel terribly sorry for them.
Realizing that the battle was in danger of being lost, Sauzer ordered Palpaleos to lead their elite troops and reserve medical team forward himself.
Seeing the advantage that having two active medical teams would provide the enemy, Zora and her comrades took it upon themselves to attack the medical team that had been poisoned earlier. Despite the trauma they'd endured from their first assault, they had the courage to charge back in to battle and destroy both cure sorcerers and one of the soldiers protecting them.
The attack left them with a javelin unit threatening their unprotected flank, but working together Blinky and Sue were able to blunt that threat.
Clyde helped the process along, although still not quite finishing the javeliners off. They might have been enemies, but their stamina was impressive.
Surprisingly enough, in the end it was Flammie who finished them off.
The first of the elite units that had been protecting Sauzer were closing quickly, so our mages threw some poison in their faces to slow them down...
While I used ice magic, as it seemed an effective technique to use against troops that were used to the heat of the desert.
Pinky was the first target that the elite troops engaged, although he was more than able to hold them off and give back as good as he got.
The other person to bear the brunt of their attacks was Matelite... which, despite my feelings about him, is a proposition about equivalent to sticking one's hand between a pair of millstones.
The assault on the centurions re-opened with the mages laying down some more ice magic in preparation for a close combat assault.
My group and Mist's stepped in to finish them off since they'd been worn down at this point.
The assault on the other group opened with a blast of thunder from Inky that actually obliterated a group of centurions that Matelite and his troops had managed to weaken.
The final group of centurions fell to a combined assault by Zora's group and Sue, a particularly impressive feat considering how badly that group had been mauled at the beginning of the battle.
Matelite's group was then free to finish off the last group of cure sorcerers, leaving Palpaleos and Sauzer alone on the field.
Palpaleos and his body guards were still too strong to be attacked directly, so we had to begin by weakening them in preparation for the final assault.
The process wasn't without risk, as Palpaleos displayed the same skills that I've been using to such good effect.
One of the area's famous sandstorms blew through at that point, catching most of our units as well as Palpaleos out in the open.
Once his bodyguards had been stripped from him, I faced Palpaleos as one Cross Knight to another. To be succinct, I walked away and he didn't.
After the battle I found... something interesting. What the hell? I've been pretty understanding about the whole thing with Yoyo and Palpaleos having gotten close while she was a prisoner, but he was carrying around one of her gowns? What was he going to do, return it now that the servants had finished cleaning it?
Author's note: I can't say that I'm unhappy about this, though as the Royal Gown is bar none the strongest armor for mage type characters in the game. It's got a defense higher than most light armors and some heavy armors and boosts magics. It can only be worn by Yoyo and Sendak.
With Palpaleos defeated, Clyde started in on Sauzer's group with the hope of similarly stripping him of his protection.
This was easier said than done, as Sauzer hadn't become emperor by being a weakling. Some of his specialty attacks seemed to shake the world at its foundations.
Sendak retaliated by summoning Garuda, demonstrating yet another Holy Dragon that had bowed before our forces. While he was powerful, I couldn't help but think that Leviathan was more impressive.
Since Sauzer wasn't interested in coming out ofh is little hiding place, Inky used lightning to shake it down around him.
Once the final body guard fell, Matelite's group and Sauzer began trading blows.
His strength was incredible, far beyond what should be possible for a single man to encompass.
In the end, Matelite was able to strike the final blow against Sauzer. I think that if he were to be killed tomorrow, he could die a happy man.
The Fallen Emperor was hard to comprehend to the last... did he lament that he had been led here by his pursuit of the Holy Dragons?
We took Sauzer's kingly sword from him as we left him on the battlefield.
Author's Note: Another time when the treasure managed to skip ahead a bit. Excalibur is +84 attack compared to the +58 attack of what we're working with. It's also Holy Elemental, and is about the 4th most powerful sword in the game. This one I can figure out. Matelite using the Nulnim, a holy elemental axe, triggered a holy elemental drop from Sauzer... who was high enough level to drop Excalibur.
We might not need to fight Sauzer again, but the Holy Dragons still need to be found... the prophecy that the Queen of Campbell mentioned so long ago is still in effect, and the empire will still kick for a while.