The Let's Play Archive

Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword

by Melth

Part 20

Alright, it’s time for a little reunion! As I said back while doing Lyn’s story, this is the chapter where she and her retainers (Sain, Kent, Florina, and Wil) rejoin. For nearly everyone, this chapter is a HUGE jump in the power of your party because all of those units except for Wil are potentially very powerful and each can be at absurdly high level for this point in the game if you ground them up in Lyn’s story.

After this chapter, you’ll have many more options for people when choosing your units each chapter and you can retire most of your characters who turned out terribly or were just bad to begin with for good. For that reason (+ getting your first flyer) it’s a major turning point in the game in terms of difficulty.

Chapter Summary:
Eliwood and Hector receive word that Darin and his missing army have surprise-attacked Caelin and seized the castle. Both to catch their quarry and to try to rescue Lyn and Marquess Caelin, they hurry after him. Meanwhile, Lyn and a few of her retainers managed to get out of the castle as it fell but her grandfather and most of the soldiery are now enemy prisoners. Having heard that Laus attacked Caelin after being driven out of their home by Eliwood, she dispatches Florina to ask Eliwood for help. But Eliwood and company have already arrived and together the two groups crush the Laus soldiers loitering outside the castle and prepare to retake it from the enemy.

While still in Laus waiting to hear Darin’s whereabouts, Eliwood and Hector talk about why Uther has so far done nothing. Hector repeats what his brother told him a few chapters ago: Bern and perhaps other countries are trying to assess Lycia and its strength, maybe even planning to invade if it looks divided and weak. By pretending nothing is wrong in Laus or Pherae, Uther hopes to make Lycia look unconquerable.

Eliwood points out that having Hector, the Marquess’s brother, missing on some adventure might be taken as a sign of something wrong, but Hector responds that he’s reputed to be a well-known lout and people would think it stranger if he WAS at court. He agrees ruefully that he’s not proud of being thought so wild and irresponsible that being at home would hamper his brother’s diplomatic efforts. This is the first sign of many that Hector is going to grow into a good Marquess someday.

At that moment Oswin charges in to tell them about the attack on Caelin. The group gears up and hurries after the enemy.

In the woods outside castle Caelin, Lyn and Kent assess the situation. And it becomes canonical here that Darin very definitely had the forces to crush Eliwood and company on chapter 14. An additional 50 soldiers of any kind would have made that map utterly unwinnable. Were it not for Ephidel’s absurd orders, Erik would have been victorious and the Black Fang plans might have succeeded.

Lyn has heard that Eliwood is in Laus and Florina proposes that she could hurry there and ask for his aid so they can rescue Marquess Hausen.

Another attempted action sequence ensues as Florina is spotted en route by enemy archers who are ordered to shoot her down. She and Eliwood- already coming to Caelin’s aid- spot each other and he realizes she’s about to be shot.
She listens to him almost in time but still falls from her pegasus.

And she and it land on Hector. Remember, it’s not the fall that kills you, it’s the ground! All in all, this sequence is less confusing that the little skirmish in Castle Ostia in Chapter 11, but only because there’s so much more dialog during it. The GBA games really just do not do a good job with such things; one of the few ways I’d argue they’re markedly inferior to, rather than just different from, the later console titles.

Bauker, commander of the Laus forces here, realizes he’s under attack by Eliwood. Perhaps he’s an arrogant fool or perhaps he’s just trying to encourage his men.

Battle Preparations & the Map:

Units Allowed: 8 + Florina in top left area + Lyn, Sain, Kent, and Wil to bottom right
Units Benched: Oswin and Marcus. Oswin is far too slow to be valuable on this chapter. While there are some serious reinforcements to the rear he could defend Merlinus from, they only appear very late in the chapter- long after I hope to have finished. Meanwhile I’ve been waiting for my chance to kick out Marcus and stop him draining my XP for a while. He could be useful on this chapter as a rescue-dropper, but I don’t really need him for that.
Units Added: Serra. On this map, I’ll need Priscilla to be doing rescue-dropping duty rather than healing part of the time and my group will be fairly split up so a second healer is needed. Plus 2 healers is usually a good number for staying on top of all the injuries your characters receive and maximizing total XP gain by healing everything.
Objective: Seize gate
Secondary Objective: Visit western village for an Energy Ring
Secondary Objective: Visit eastern village for a Heavy Spear
Secondary Objective: Steal the Lockpick from the enemy thief.
Reinforcements: Late in the chapter, numerous cavaliers will spawn from the upper left. On turns 2,3, and 4 brigands spawn from the marked bottom left spawn zone and try to destroy the east village first. On turns 4, 5, and 6 mercenaries and cavaliers spawn from the forts near Bauker. On turn 5 and 6 brigands spawn from the bottom right corner and try to destroy the eastern village.
Turns Allowed: 7

Note that the starting positions of Lyn’s group and Florina are not shown while choosing your own formation. I thought about making a War Room talking about that, but it’s really a rare occurrence. Just start the chapter, note their positions and gear, and then restart and make your real plans knowing that.

This is a big, messy map with loads and enemies and very rough terrain which will greatly slow your movement- especially that of Lyn’s group. Meanwhile the enemy has tons of flyers and also has some ballistae, giving them a clear advantage.

The two big problems are that 1) Eliwood’s group is really, really weak (in part because a lot of my units have been getting bad levels) so they’ll have trouble with a lot of the enemies and 2) the extremely short time limit. I believe it’s feasible to complete this map in 6 turns with a good Hector and some good luck and a lot of rescue-dropping him over the mountains. I didn’t really have much luck here and my Florina ended up 7 HP weaker than she should have been, which hampered me further.

Stealing the lockpick will also be tricky. The enemy thief will act like a brigand and destroy the west village if he’s not aggroed immediately, but doing that is hard since there are some dangerous allies with him.

After checking the map to find Florina’s starting position, I decided this is the ideal group to bring. Florina does not start with an iron lance and can’t be given one during preparations, so I gave one to Priscilla instead to trade to her later. Lowen and Priscilla are positioned for rescue dropping Hector with Florina’s help and then getting Priscilla out of Pegasus range.

The other units are my best combat units other than Oswin and Marcus and are positioned somewhat carelessly since the details don’t much matter. However, Eliwood needs to be in the lead because Matthew will die while Guy will kill the enemy thief. Only Eliwood is a happy medium of being able to survive the onslaught of the 2 mercenaries and the thief and the Pegasus knight while not being fast enough that he kills the thief before it can be stolen from.

Other than giving Priscilla an iron lance for Florina and giving Oswin’s javelin (my only one) to Lowen, there’s not much to change about equipment.

Another special character line. It’s Florina being annoyingly shy again. Ugh.

The Characters:

Sain’s stats are, as they say in the vernacular, “Really good.” He can turn any enemy on this level into thinly sliced, neatly packaged lunch meat. Often in a single blow. He would have excellent odds of one-rounding Marcus. However, I won’t be able to get much use out of him because there are a lot of forests in the way and because Lyn’s group needs some serious help.

As was foretold by my calculator, Lyn has a white gem! Owning this is a huge financial boost to me and should allow me to promote characters a bit more liberally down the line.

And what?! Florina hasn’t gained the angelic robe bonus! What the heck happened? This is catastrophic!
After double-checking that I wasn’t just suffering some sort of gingersnap-induced hallucination and then going back to chapter 10 to make sure I had the screenshot I remembered taking of her eating the angelic robe I realized what must have happened:
In order to get good screenshots of the epilogue of Lyn’s story, I used the rewind button a few times. I must have rewound back past Florina eating the robe on the last turn without noticing it. Argh.
This makes her way more vulnerable. For one thing, a single enemy Pegasus knight is now actually an even fight despite all her level ups. They’ll kill her in 2 hits with iron lances, same as she kills them. It also means that a single iron arrow + 1 hit from anything will kill her and a ballista might be able to OHKO her, so I have to be way more cautious with her on this level. That’s a problem since speed is king here and I really need her.
Darn it.

“We've been... defeated? Such... a shame...” –Bauker, Chapter 16

Stated to be the leader of Laus’s “Imperial guard” – a somewhat nebulous title since we’re never told exactly what part of their army constitutes the imperial guard- Bauker may actually be the highest ranking officer of Laus’s army since it’s not clear just how a commander of the imperial guard ranks compared to a “Knight commander.”

He’s perhaps somewhat inconsistently characterized. Everyone from Caelin villagers to Darin and Bernard agree that his skill is very impressive, but while he’s said by one villager to be known to be a gentle man, he seems rather merciless as he unquestioningly enforces Darin’s orders that no one leave Caelin alive and orders that his men check to see if that Pegasus knight they shot at is still breathing “and if she is, make her stop.” And unlike Bernard he never voices any regrets about anything he had to do- just that he lost.

The man is not much of a threat at this stage in the game. He doesn’t compare well to Boies from 13 and isn’t even much better than Wire from 11 (let alone a luckier Wire than the one I fought):

It would be no problem to dice him with the Wolf Beil except that he’s guarded by at least one mage and that I need to save that weapon as much as possible at the moment. But he’s so much less impressive for his part of the game than previous knights that Hector can easily beat him down with an iron axe in a couple of rounds.

Playing Through:

First thing to do is grab Hector with Priscilla. The only way to get him to Bauker fast is to let him skip right over all the mountains. Between Priscilla and Florina, that’s quite possible without putting either in danger of death. Marcus could help a fair amount, but I want to avoid him.

Florina takes her iron lance, equips a javelin since one of the Pegasus knights who’ll go for her has one, and drops Hector on the last mountain so that once the local troops are down, he can make a run for Bauker.

Then Lowen rides in and grabs Priscilla so she doesn’t die. Unfortunately, I can’t spare anyone else to take and drop her, so both she and Lowen are out of the action for a little while.

Meanwhile, there’s a great shopping selection on Lyn’s side of the field. Wil has nothing to do but shop because he’s worthless, so I have him pick up 3 javelins. Honestly I’d like more- I’ve only had one thus far and that’s really hampered me, but I’m short on cash.

On his way to try to move toward the eastern village, Kent stops at the vendor and picks up 2 door keys. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Purchasing 2 door keys is essential for approaching the next level properly. Remember, it is impossible for you to have any at this stage in the game otherwise and you absolutely must have them to quickly get all the treasure on Whereabouts Unknown.

It’s a bad situation on Eliwood’s front, as second turns often are. Hector is pinned by that myrmidon and can’t go for Bauker till he gets lucky and hits him. Florina is horribly injured. Lowen is carrying Priscilla so he can’t fight well and she can’t heal.
Eliwood’s group is facing down a force that could kill any of them next turn and they severely lack firepower- plus this is my only chance to steal the lockpick from the enemy thief.
Across the map, Lyn’s group also has some trouble on this turn due to a bunch of Pegasus knights and a ballista to the north.

The first step, I decide, is to get Priscilla and Lowen back in the action, so I need to drop her instead of using him to finish a weak Pegasus knight. Florina and Hector can finish those guys off, which will leave everyone up there safe for now, though Hector will still be stuck.
I don’t yet know what I’m going to do on the bottom front, so I position Lowen to block anyone from running up and going after Priscilla.

Alright, that’s +1200 gold. Worth a sizable risk. And I’ve made my plans: I’m going to form a diagonal wall with my swordfighters and take out the mercenaries so as to minimize the enemy’s ability to kill us. Matthew will still be in some danger because cavaliers hit hard and his defense is crud, but he still has good odds to dodge at least one.

Man, I can’t wait to be rid of this loser. He’s gained no points of str or defense in all his 4 levels. The worst part is that that’s pretty much average for him. Soon I’ll have Raven and Lyn, so your days are numbered, Guy…

The mercenaries are dead, Serra heals Eliwood to full, and the wall is complete. Now I just need Matthew to dodge one attack or the enemy to go for someone else.

Lyn’s position immediately comes under attack by mercenaries from the west who Sain has to handle and Pegasus knights from the north (as well as a ballista). It’s tough without just feeding everything to Sain, but it turns out fairly well.

So it turns out the enemy cavaliers go before the enemy thief, which means that Matthew was never in any danger of death because both cavaliers couldn’t attack him at once. And he got a completely empty level for killing the enemy thief. Yay.

At last the fighting near Lyn has died down on this turn so Will visits the other armory and picks up a couple more handaxes. Now that Bartre and Dorcas are out, I have enough of the things for the short term, but you can never have too many.

Those brigands I mentioned are already en route to destroy the village and neither Kent nor Lyn could get there in time on their own. To avoid just letting Sain kill them, I rescue-dropped Lyn with the help of her knights.

Fighting continues, but it’s way easier for Eliwood and his group now. Erk gets another good level. Mine is quite slow, but decently strong and tough for Erk. Good overall I’d say.

Ultimately it took Hector way too many turns to land a hit on that myrmidon and for Florina to kill it, but he’s at last fighting his way to Bauker and he got another nice speed boost. My Hector is pretty weird at this point. In terms of total stats he’s below average, but he remains pretty good because his painful loss of defense is offset by a wonderful boost in speed.

There’s really very little going on for anyone but Hector at this point, just a slow slog through the woods and some visits of villages. It seems that Hausen remains popular among the villagers despite the hints in 13x and in this very chapter that, in the wake of Lyn’s story, his realm is a crumbling and lawless mess unable to defend itself even from bandits.

So you may recall me arguing a few posts back that Priscilla’s hefty resistance advantage over Erk doesn’t really matter since enemy mages are rare and their damage is pretty weak. Here’s a pretty good example of that. My Erk isn’t very leveled- he started at level 1 just a couple of chapters ago- and he has about +1 res over average. Meanwhile the enemy mages are at their strongest point relative to him. Yet this one has severe difficulty damaging him already. In a few more chapters he’ll be taking close to 0.

You can also see that I used Priscilla and Florina to drop Lowen in to help Hector- he really needs it since mine has terrible res and the enemy mage shredded him. The reinforcements spawning out of those forts didn’t help. At this point he can’t actually beat Bauker (he’s in range next turn) and this is a huge problem since my bad luck with the myrmidon and unexpectedly weak Florina means I’m already behind schedule. Fortunately I can have Florina and Sain drop in Priscilla and heal him next turn. Unfortunately, that puts Priscilla and Florina in range of that ballista. But there’s no alternative after examining my options. With a better Florina or a luckier Hector I wouldn’t be in this tight spot, so hopefully my bad luck up till now will be made up for by the ballista missing its 40% or so shot.

Sure enough! Next turn, Hector goes for Bauker. I really, really want to use the Wolf Beil to finish him quickly but I can’t spare the 2 uses of it. I’m going to have to rely on Sain’s help to make sure Bauker is dead by next turn so I can seize the throne. Meanwhile I should have just enough firepower to take out the other enemies in the area. Not a moment too soon.

Eliwood gets another sweet level up. Mine is really quite excellent at this point. It’s just a shame I’ll never be able to promote him.

Kent is barely capable of handling brigands since I didn’t use him in Lyn’s story. Lyn herself is weirdly not much better off. I had Sain kill Bauker because Hector decided to miss him 3/4 times despite >80% true odds to hit, so Hector is about to end it once Kent gets this guy’s XP.

And a mediocre level for him.

Lyn visits the last village and uncovers dialog I never saw before! Man, this game is just chock-full of little extra details and scenes and dialog. Even after 12 years of playing I’m still finding new things on occasion.

The map is over, but Priscilla heals Hector anyway to get more XP. And a decent level.

It’s turn 7. Despite all disadvantages, I came in on time- but not ahead of schedule. This means I’m still in debt after 15.

Eliwood and Lyn are reunited and the former apologizes for having indirectly caused the invasion of Caelin.

This whole scene really harkens back to Chapter 6 and Lyn talking to Marquess Araphen. The situation is almost exactly the same: one person’s castle was attacked by the forces of a second person even though the latter were really actually the enemies of a third party. Now Lyn is in Marquess Araphen’s shoes and Eliwood is in the situation she was in a year ago: apologizing for something he didn’t really cause. But unlike Araphen, Lyn doesn’t unreasonably blame him for what happened.

But Eliwood nonetheless accepts responsibility and tries to right the wrongs involved. Really, this scene is a fantastic callback to Chapter 6 because the parallels are clear but the game never feels the need to actually inform you of that and beat you over the head with their moral about the proper way for noblemen to behave and for people to rightly assign blame for wrongs committed and- more importantly- to set them right. This game has themes.

And Lyn is rude and critical to Hector. This is becomes a pattern. She really never stops taking opportunities to be rather obnoxious to him for about 7 chapters, but at the same time she keeps saying that he’s brusque and rude and acting like it’s out of character for him to be kind to people.

And another reunion! Everyone from the Caelin group greets Market in their own way. And this of course is one of those spots where the dialog is different if the tactician is a woman.

Inside, Darin gets word that Bauker has been defeated and Eliwood will catch up to him in minutes. We get our first real chance to see what sort of person Marquess Caelin is as he chooses to be diplomatic and offers to speak for Darin and try to smooth things over if he’ll surrender.

Truer words have never been spoken. Unfortunately, Ephidel shanks Hausen instead of himself so the stream of terrible advice continues.
Guess what? Ephidel AGAIN failed to kill a helpless old man. Furthermore, he again forces Darin into an absolutely terrible plan that screws them both over.

You can bet that this stupid, stupid plan to attack Caelin for no reason and thereby lose soldiers, make new enemies, and put Eliwood back on their trail was Ephidel’s fault too.

Let’s review whose fault that is:
1) At the start of the game, Ostia knows Laus had something to do with Marquess Pherae’s disappearance but not exactly what. And they’re not doing anything or telling anyone because they want to pretend all is well.
2) When Marquess Santaruz, one of their few allies, says that he could not lie to Eliwood’s face, Ephidel does not bring up the reasonable plan of just pretending Marquess Santaruz is away and sending Eliwood in the wrong direction. Instead he lies to Marquess Santaruz and decides to have some thugs kill Eliwood, thereby ensuring that Santaruz will be furious with him and quit their conspiracy. This further ensures that the existence of the conspiracy will be immediately revealed since Eliwood’s death would undoubtedly set off a polital firestorm and would mean that Ostia has nothing to lose by crushing Laus promptly.
3) Ephidel, a leader of the world’s greatest league of assassins and a mighty wizard, decides to shop the job out to the least competent thugs for hire around. Consequently Eliwood survives, realizes that someone wants him dead, and thereby catches Ephidel’s trail. Meanwhile, Marquess Santaruz is of course infuriated and quits the conspiracy.
4) Ephidel stabs Santaruz. Just once. He doesn’t hide the body or finish him off or take any precautions against someone helping him other than leaving more hired goons outside the castle. Or try to pin the crime on someone else. No, he makes it 100% obvious that Helman was a victim of foul play and even leaves the man alive for hours in which he’s able to wait for Eliwood to arrive and then explain things to him. Had Helman lived like 30 seconds longer he would have had a chance to explain the whole plot in full. Even if he had been killed though, Ephidel would still have been in deep trouble.
5) So 100% as a result of Ephidel’s dumb ideas and screw-ups, Eliwood heads to Laus. Ephidel doesn’t even understand that if Eliwood gets word of the truth to Ostia, their plans will be ruined. Darin, a madman, has to explain this to him. Erik suggests a reasonable plan for ambushing and killing Eliwood.
6) Eliwood proves too strong for Erik’s initial forces, but Laus still has about 100 men- including many better troops. Darin is about to send them out and thereby ensure Eliwood is crushed, when Ephidel stops him. Ephidel’s oh-so-brilliant plan is to just abandon Laus himself and cancel all black fang operations. This will result in Laus winning the battle, but the whole plan for rebellion completely collapsing. Realizing this is terrible for him, Darin manages to persuade Ephidel not to give up on them. Ephidel insists on a plan that’s even worse: Darin will abandon his realm and a good third of his men and his son and flee with Ephide. Now they lose almost all their resources and the only possible staging ground for their rebellion. Further, now Erik is certain to be defeated and this means Eliwood will certainly be able to find out all their plans.
7) Someone decides to attack Caelin. Probably not Darin since Darin has been the cautious and non-stupid one so far. Also he evidently bears Marquess Caelin no ill-will and is totally listening to what he has to say. So yeah, probably that was also Ephidel’s idea.
8) Now that Eliwood can find them again and Darin has lost another third of his men to the counterattack by Lyn and Eliwood and accomplished absolutely nothing but to make more enemies since Castle Caelin is not useful to him, Ephidel stabs Marquess Caelin. Again, he completely fails to kill him and thereby accomplishes nothing but making more enemies.

But it’s ok! Sure Ephidel is completely destroying all their plans with his incompetence and stupidity, but as long as they have his master they’ll definitely win! This attitude explains so much about him. He’s just relying on Nergal to carry the team. And he greatly overestimates Nergals’s power, so he’s completely misunderstanding what Nergal needs him to do.

Good gravy, the man is on a roll! He has thrown away Darin’s lands, status, prestige and reputation, and his entire massive army. Those were their greatest resources. Now Darin is absolutely worthless to him, but Ephidel doesn’t understand that. Ephidel knows they need Darin on the Black Fang’s side, but he completely doesn’t get that that was about Darin being a wealthy and powerful nobleman. Darin personally is useless to them.

Possibly my favorite line of the game. Having convinced Darin that he has no choice but to go along with Ephidel’s latest moronic plan, Ephidel walks away patting himself on the back for outsmarting Darin. He just doesn’t get it.

And he talks to this new but skilled Black Fang recruit- Leila. She’s an Ostian spy but of course Ephidel would never figure that out on his own. So even though she’s new, he entrusts her with the all-important task of disposing of Marquess Caelin and leaves her completely unsupervised, giving her free reign to not only save Marquess Caelin but also give a full report to Hector. And he suspects nothing when she rejoins him later.

Well that’s the end of the level! Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow!

Total Restarts: 7. No more on this chapter. I wasn’t lucky, but my luck wasn’t that bad either so there was no call for restarting.
Turn Surplus: -6 (No progress. I was hoping to move that to -5, but the myrmidon and no Wolf Beil slowed me down too much. Oh well. It’s only one turn lost).
Things I Regret Missing: The lockpick on chapter 11, that darned archer on chapter 11, this one brigand who attacked Marcus on chapter 12, 2 more brigands who ignored everyone else to attack Marcus on chapter 13x, and 2 archers who ignored Hector and Dorcas (DORCAS!) to attack Marcus on chapter 14