The Let's Play Archive

Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword

by Melth

Part 26: Chapter 19xx

19x Part 2 a.k.a. 19xx is the secretest of secret chapters! And one of the most dreaded for largely unjustified reasons.

This chapter changes everything and really brings out a ton of depth that isn’t apparent on Eliwood’s version of the story. And just how it does that can only really be appreciated after beating the game once, so it’s totally appropriate that it’s only available on Hector’s story.

On the other hand, the other requirements for unlocking it are absurd. Killing Kishuna didn’t unlock anything on Eliwood’s story and it’s not clear why that would affect unlocking this chapter anyway. But needing to play Hector’s story, unlock 19x, and then kill Kishuna pale in comparison to the final requirement: raising Nils to level 7 or higher in Lyn’s story. At no point is this hinted at in any way, shape, or form, nor is there any indication if you do unlock 19xx that that’s why.

If you try to S-rank Lyn’s story, you WILL fail to unlock this chapter. If you try keep Nils low level for pumping your XP ranking in Hector’s story, you WILL fail to unlock this chapter.

It’s worse than any other secret level requirement I can think of in any FE. The only thing that can even rival it is unlocking The Pinnacle of Light in FE6. The only saving grace of this sidequest’s ludicrous requirements is that the game is still satisfying without it and still reaches the same conclusion. But you miss out on a great reveal that really adds a lot of pathos to a certain otherwise fairly bland villain and to the story as a whole. And to a lot of background secrets and plot threads all being resolved.

Here There Be Spoilers!
If you haven’t played through the game before, this chapter contains MASSIVE spoilers

I can spoiler tag the text but not the images so far as I’m aware. And the images give just about everything away whether my text is covered or not, so I won’t be tagging the text. So if you want to avoid spoilers you should probably stop reading now and skip this chapter entirely (the story basically picks up as normal next level) and perhaps come back to it after the end of the game. Final warning, right here. If you finish reading this last sentence, it won’t tell you anything.

Chapter Summary:
Hector and company arrive at the Dragon’s Gate but leave Ninian unattended and she slips away. They chase her into the woods and catch up to her as she wanders, confused, into another ancient ruin. There they meet a “traveler” named Teodor. He explains that the ruins were the abode of a dark sorcerer 1000 years ago and the still-intact library is a treasure trove of ancient magical knowledge which he’s studying. And he explains the nature of Dark Magic and the terrible sacrifices it requires of its practitioners before revealing himself to be a Black Fang leader and attacking. After defeating him, Hector retrieves Ninian- finding her staring at a picture of a man standing next to a dragon- and they return to the Dragon’s Gate.

We’ve really come a long way. It’s time to rescue Marquess Pherae and finish Nergal!

Oops. Missing once again. This is all Hector’s fault somehow.

Ninian arrives and we see a vision of the past. This was back before color was invented.

A man ushers his two young children into the ruins and tells them why he’s leaving.

Who these bad men are remains something of a mystery. From what we’re told, this scene happens during (or soon after) the Scouring, My best guess is that they’re actually the forces of the 8 Legends currently waging their war against the dragons. From the perspective of a man who married a dragon, those would indeed be bad men. This also explains what happens to the dragon woman (named Aenir by the way, there’s some ambiguity in the English translation about this). The armies of the scouring might well have just killed her soon after capturing her. But what husband would face that likelihood when there’s still any chance she could be saved?

He leaves them some supplies and instructions to go through the Dragon’s Gate if he doesn’t return within 10 days.

Agh, the dramatic irony of it. Having already beaten Eliwood’s story and knowing how Ninian and Nils were lured back to this world to be captured, this is just awful. They must have thought Nergal was still the father they knew, returning at last after many years.

Come to think of it, it looks as though time might pass differently on each side of the Dragon’s Gate. If time is the same, then Ninian and Nils are 1000+ years old. But Sophia, like them, is a half-dragon and looks like a teenager at age 100 or so. Nils still looks a good deal younger than her, so it seems a fair bet that he’s 100 or less in terms of time on the other side of the Dragon’s Gate. On the other hand, maybe half-dragon children of different types of dragons age differently; we don’t know enough to be sure.

The flashback ends as Lyn arrives and asks Ninian what she’s doing here. And Ninian drops the first really big hint that she was the girl in that scene.

Excellent question! Well besides the fact that she’s been a prisoner here several times and Hector should already know or suspect that to be true.

Oh no, it’s a red enemy unit teleporting in! Again, having the unit start off red kind of spoils that he’s secretly an enemy. The excellent Silent Grounds makes a reappearance for (I think) the first time since Chapter 4. Maybe I’m forgetting one. It’s really a pretty piece of music. And it seems to fit the mood so well here. Except for that guy clearly being an enemy due to his red clothes…

Teodor drops other clues for the player. There are pretty much two candidates for people who could have studied here: Nergal and Bramimond, and it will later be revealed that it was definitely Nergal. However, Teodor himself speaks of Bramimond with some reverence and knows that Bramimond studied the ultimate dark magics on Valor during the Scouring. He makes no mention of Nergal by name. To me it looks as though Teodor might think this was Bramimond’s residence; at the very least it looks probable that he doesn’t know that the modern Nergal is the one who studied in this building 1000 years ago.

And he segues into talking about the way to acquire dark magic. This, along with Canas’s supports with Pent and others, are absolutely critical to understanding both Bramimond and Nergal and how they came to lose themselves.

Many of the details remain a bit unclear though.

Really the more you think about this conversation and Canas’s supports, the more it looks like even beginning to study dark magic is often a fate worse than death.

Canas, an otherwise reasonable person with no interest in power, talks of how tempting it is to just submit to the darkness and be lost forever like his brothers were and how he can’t stop studying even though he knows it will destroy him. It’s probably a mercy that his life is suddenly cut short by a blizzard in the epilogue so he didn’t live to become everything he opposed like Nergal or a drooling vegetable like his brothers or some inhuman and incomprehensible being like Bramimond.

Teodor describes the case of Bramimond in particular and how he was completely lost in the process of learning the ultimate dark magic (he was completely ripped off; Luna is better anyway).

Eliwood asks the obvious question, completely dumbfounded at the idea that anyone would ever study dark magic when it destroys you.

Teodor gives a superficially reasonable answer: that just about everyone will at least once want something so badly that they’d give anything for it and that studying dark magic can give you the power to get or become or do whatever it is you want so badly.

The problem with his reasoning isn’t the “at any cost” part so much as the “I” part. He’s just finished talking about how people who study dark magic too deeply completely lose themselves and even forget why they wanted the power to begin with- becoming mindless vessels for dark power. So… you don’t actually get the thing you wanted. You cease to exist or become someone totally different as the memories and goals and personality that made you what you are are destroyed.

Quite possibly what you wanted never comes about because now that you have the power to achieve your goal, you no longer want to. And even if what’s left of you brings about what you wanted, you’re still not properly around to appreciate that. Really, you’d have to be crazy to take a deal like that. Crazy or trying to help someone else at the cost of your own soul.

Bam! If the red robes didn’t give away that he wasn’t just a traveler, this sure does.

We don’t really know exactly whether Teodor is part of the pre or post-Nergal Black Fang. I would guess pre and that he doesn’t know much of anything about Nergal because he seems to have no awareness that this is Nergal’s house he’s standing in and Nergal’s library he wants to read through.

And he turns it into a fog of war level! Truly, he is our most evil enemy thusfar.

This kind of thing is refreshing after Eliwood going on about Uhai and what a great guy he was throughout his version of the story.

Battle Preparations & the Map

It’s always especially prudent to check in on your rankings before and after a zero chapter like this. Things are looking good as long as I finish this one quickly enough that I don’t lose my built up turn surplus.

Scanning the map, it’s covered in thieves. And they’re level 15-20 and consequently have 20 speed, which is more than my Matthew.

This chapter is the first appearance of poison weapons, enemy-exclusive gear that you wouldn’t want anyway. The stats on the things are just terrible (-15 hit and -4 Mt compared to an iron lance). But if you get hit by one of them, you get the Poisoned condition for 4 turns (and unlike most conditions, this one can be re-inflicted upon you, which resets the turn counter). This makes your unit take about 1d4 damage at the beginning of your turn, ignoring defense and resistance.

The things are pretty much no threat, and what’s more they’re great for training your staff users up since they provide 1 very small wound per turn.

The map is too big and too full of enemies for me to reveal all of it at once, but the bulk of the enemy force is shown here (after eliminating one thief who stood nearby in order to get a better torch spot)

The enemy standing forces don’t actually present that much of a conventional threat, but they have a lot of nuisance tactics available courtesy of their thieves, troubadours, and of course the fog itself.

I'm going to go over the problems posed by the Sleep and Silence staves in some detail in the future. To summarize here, the Silence staff in the bottom right is no threat if you don’t send someone who uses magic that way in the first place, but the Sleep Staff troubadour could take out one of your best soldiers for most of the rest of the fight- possibly several if she’s not killed promptly. Because she has 7 movement and is hidden by fog and there’s no way to have a restore staff yet, there’s really no better way to deal with her than to hope she misses her first shot and then ensure you kill her ASAP.

These thieves are actually a very different kind of problem from the normal variety due to their huge level and stats:
20 speed is actually enough to double pretty much all of my units - even Raven and Florina (while she has an iron lance). Thief damage is low enough that that’s not a huge problem for most people, but it does mean I need to take them seriously. They also have enough HP and dodge chance that I can’t count on killing them in less than 3 hits or so from most units.
Besides this modest combat threat they pose, the biggest trouble with them is that with 20 speed they can steal from literally any soldier in my army other than Sain. So if I give anyone any kind of item that isn’t a weapon, I should expect to lose it.

Fortunately, most of the thieves on this map don’t actually have lockpicks- or keys of any kind. So most of them are completely incapable of looting the treasure on the map before I can get there. And it gets better! Remember that I said every thief AI is different? Well the AI on this chapter is almost friendly.

The details were a little difficult to figure out given the fog, but I did learn a fair amount on the test-run where I tried to reveal the map to screenshot it:
For one thing, only the thief with the lockpick in the right middle area actually goes for any treasure in any way- even the nearby guy with the chest key is only interested in fighting. The thief with the lockpick will loot the chests in the bottom right on turns 2 and 3 and then begins behaving erratically. It never flees the map, but does make its way toward Teodor’s room, pausing several times and picking fights with anything that gets near it after it leaves the treasure room.
Critically, that lockpick thief is actually fairly low level and has about 15 speed- less than Matthew. Just as critically, it steals the Dragon Shield BEFORE the Eclipse tome. This means that if you steal the Dragon Shield first, you can then kill the thief for the Eclipse Tome and get all the bottom right treasure easily. The only difficulty is ensuring the thief doesn’t suicide to one of your soldiers before you can bring Matthew nearby.

Although there are actually several thieves in the top treasure room, neither of them has any kind of key. Further, they don’t even try to fight you. If you open the door and get out of their way, they will begin making their way to the top right staircase and then leave. Under no circumstances will they attack one of your units of their own volition. They won’t even move if there isn’t a path to the stairs open.

In short, the thieves on this map look impossible to beat to the treasure, but actually most of them won’t even try to take it and the one who does is so nice about it that he’s practically doing your work for you.

The only really nasty surprise other than the sleep staff troubadour is that Teodor has several wyvern riders in his room and they love to fly out of the fog to kill people by surprise. Wyvern riders are probably the most powerful and dangerous enemy unit type in the game overall so these 2 should not be taken lightly.

Really, a quick glance at the starting forces and the fact that there are no enemy reinforcements whatsoever should tell you immediately that this is an easy chapter in terms of fighting. The only question is how to beat it quickly and with maximum treasure.

Units Allowed: 8
Units Brought:
1) Hector. Required and great anyway, as always.
2) Matthew. There’s absolutely no way to acquire the top left Talisman without him. Not to mention that without him you can get either the Dragon Shield or the Eclipse but not both. The enemy thieves will only do some of your work for you on this level.
3) Sain. Partly Sain is here in case Teodor, hidden in the fog, proves more dangerous than expected. But really the main reason to bring him is that he’s the only person capable of tackling that hallway to the bottom right, so giving him the XP there isn’t any kind of loss. Pegasus knights couldn’t handle the archers or snipers. Canas or another mage couldn’t handle the sniper + the longbow, Dorcas or Bartre don’t have a chance. Lowen can’t handle the mages. Hector is needed in the top right ASAP. No, it’s really Sain (or maybe Oswin or Marcus, but that’s even worse) or no one.
4) Florina. Other than the one ballista, this map is pretty good for Pegasus knights. They’re particularly good at dealing with the enemy thieves and are fairly respectable vs knights and mages and the like as well. Plus I’m going to want all the rescue-chaining power available to get Matthew around efficiently on the last turns.
5) Fiora. Same as Florina but not as good.
6) Mages. Knights. Thieves. These are all things Canas deals with quite well. And I can’t afford to bring any other magic user at the moment.
7) Raven. Raven is one of my few units capable of accurately hitting thieves for high damage and he’s also decently effective against knights due to his high Str. And I need to train him to get Jerme’s level.
8) Dorcas. Ugh. Dorcas is bad, but with a hammer he can actually take on the Knights on this level. And I need to take every opportunity available to train him, Bartre, and Guy to ensure I get Jerme’s chapter.
Notable Units Rejected:
1) Priscilla. As I mentioned, the actual fighting on this level is incredibly easy. If you lose a unit, you did something very wrong. Even without healing, you should take little enough damage to still have many battle-ready units at the map’s end. And I don’t want to give her more XP than I need to right now.
2) Serra. Same as Priscilla but with 2 less movement.
3) Guy. There’s nothing on this level he can kill, so he can’t really be trained here.
4) Lyn. Same as Guy. Her Mani Katti is nearly broken so she’s no longer effective against knights.
5) Eliwood. Only a little better off than Lyn and Guy.
6) Lowen. As usual, Lowen can’t beat knights and this level is full of them so he can’t really help much. He’d be good against thieves, but not as good as the Pegasus knights.
7) Dart. I would DEFINITELY rather be using Dart than Dorcas, but Dorcas needs XP for me to get Jerme’s chapter and Dart doesn’t.
8) Erk. Would be highly effective here, but I don’t really need him and I need to avoid giving him too much XP.
Objective: Seize the throne
Secondary Objective: Get the Talisman from the top left chest
Secondary Objective: Get the Dragon Shield from the bottom right chest
Secondary Objective: Get the Eclipse from the bottom right chest
Secondary Objective: Steal the Lockpick from the thief who opens the bottom right chests
Secondary Objective: Steal the chest key from the thief nearby in the bottom hallway (Impossible without 20 speed)
Reinforcements: None. Yeah, you read that right. Have I mentioned this chapter is really easy?
Turns Allowed: 0. Ouch, but by this point there’s been plenty of time to build up a nice surplus.

In terms of gear, Dorcas has a hammer and Florina has a heavy spear in case knights prove troublesome. To my surprise, I don’t yet have an armorslayer so Raven couldn’t be given one of those. Critically, NO ONE is given a vulnerary. If they had vulneraries, the enemy would steal them. No one has any items at all except that Matthew has a Torch with only 2 uses remaining and my most worn-out lockpick. And I intend to keep him out of reach of those enemy thieves.

The idea with this formation here is that Sain is at the furthest point back where he can still javelin down the bottom hallway thief. This will let him efficiently take down the other enemies in or near that hallway and thus reach the bottom right chests around the same time the thief finishes there. Sain can then keep a watch on him if need be, but really he’s done for the chapter since I don’t want him doing more fighting than absolutely necessary.

Matthew is close to the hallway just so that he gives Sain vision of the thief.

The Pegasus knights + Raven are situated to quickly take down the other nearby thief and prepare to deal with the enemies who will soon come through the left door.

Canas, Hector, and Dorcas will just be backing them up. From there, that group of everyone but Sain will fan out through the building, taking out the troubadour and the other enemies and having Hector beat Teodor as Matthew with Pegasus knight assistance opens up the top area and gets the treasure. The idea is for Matthew to finish up there around the same time the lockpick thief returns to the main chamber. Then that thief can be lured to attack someone like Dorcas or an unarmed Matthew so that Matthew has time to steal both his lockpick and his dragon shield before he’s killed for the eclipse.

The Characters:

“ ‘I must have it at any cost.’ I believe every living soul has felt such desire. I know I have.” –Teodor, Chapter 19xx

If there’s one Black Fang I’d like to know more about, it’s Teodor. The game almost seems to be teasing you with all the information about him that they aren’t giving you even as this chapter reveals all sorts of other secrets. Although much about Teodor remains shrouded in mystery, what we do learn is fairly intriguing:

For one thing, he has his own agenda: seeking greater dark magic power in order to accomplish or acquire something that he’d give anything for. He also seems very knowledgeable about dark magic and the history of Valor- though perhaps not so much so as he thinks, since he seems possibly unaware that this ruin was Nergal’s home.

It’s possible that much like Nergal himself, Teodor is just using the Black Fang. He describes Uhai and Aion’s deaths as “Convenient” because they give him a chance at the prestige of killing Eliwood himself. So evidently he cares little for his fellow Fangs, but does care about his status in the organization.

And it also seems clear that, unlike some other Fangs, Teodor is not after Eliwood because he believes lies that Eliwood is actually evil. No, Teodor walked right up to Eliwood and started talking to him, counting on Eliwood’s decency to protect him. Were Eliwood more suspicious or less polite, he would have just attacked or captured Teodor on the assumption that he’s one of the Black Fang or one of their spies. In fact, the two have a long, fairly friendly conversation before Teodor suddenly reveals that he’s a Black Fang and attacks.

Besides apparently being able to create clouds of black fog and teleport around, Teodor is pretty formidable in combat with or without his HHM bonuses (though absolutely terrible for a 17th level Druid). He’s impervious to magic and his fairly high defense and throne protect him well from physical attacks too.

Much like Aion though, he’s screwed by his gear. 8 Con isn’t bad for a mage, but Eclipse weighs 20 and Nosferatu weighs 14, slowing him to a much less problematic 7 speed. And Eclipse is the worst spell in the game. Much like Bolting it has 3-10 range, but it has 30 less accuracy than the already inaccurate Bolting and it doesn’t deal damage normally. Instead it ignores its wielder’s magic and the defender’s resistance and just halves the opponent’s current HP. That wouldn’t even be that threatening if he could hit with it, but his odds are always <30% or so.

Further weakening Eclipse, he doesn’t really have many troops around him (other than 2 wyvern riders) who could finish you off. In sum, his Eclipse is not at all threatening. And it slows him to speed 1 and dodge 5 (plus his throne), making him incredibly easy to kill.

Make sure you kill him while he has that equipped. Eclipse is a joke but Nosferatu is one of the greatest weapons in the game. Not only will it more or less fully heal him if he hits, its Mt of 10 + his enormous magic power and your units’ lousy Res might let him instant kill one of your soldiers. Still, he’s slow with poor accuracy when he wields it. And you could just pop back out of Nosferatu range to make him equip Eclipse again.

Playing Through:

You can’t hit an enemy you can’t see, so the first thing to do on any fog map is to use a torch with a thief.

As planned, Sain rides out and kills the enemy thief. With his javelin he’ll be able to wipe out that knight and all the archers/sniper except for the one with the longbow. From there it’s pretty much smooth sailing for him.

I don’t want this mage suiciding to Sain and I do want Florina in position to deal with the enemy ballista next turn, so it’s prudent to take it down immediately. This does reduce my chance of killing the nearby enemy thief, but that’s a lower priority- especially since it will probably get itself killed by someone’s counterattack anyway.

As expected, Raven hit but Canas’s odds aren’t good. Fiora could throw a javelin from his spot with more accuracy, but she wouldn’t have the damage to kill the thief anyway so I might as well just go for it with Canas.

Meh, he missed, but it’s not important. What IS important is making sure Matthew doesn’t take a lance to the face after the thief with the door key opens this door. Dorcas and Fiora don’t have much to do but just move up toward the front.

Of course. That enemy sniper was worth pretty good XP and as I mentioned, no one else could really fight it effectively, so I don’t mind giving it to Sain.

I lucked out here. This more than makes up for missing the thief. There was pretty much nothing I could do to prevent that troubadour getting a shot at someone at least once. That it missed will let me finish the rest of the level much more efficiently.

Alright, it’s the second turn, which as I’ve said before is the roughest turn on most maps. Here I think you can already see it’s in my favor before I even start moving. That thief was missed by Florina, but it’s no threat to her. If I can destroy the ballista, beat the northern thief, and kill the troubadour then I’ll have accomplished pretty much every tactical objective standing between me and easily clearing the whole rest of the place out. And I’ve got 7 units to do that with.

First let’s see the kind of firepower I need to beat that Troubadour. Ouch, she’s level 15, so she’s actually somewhat tough. Lots of speed and enough HP to take at least one hit from nearly anyone.

Sometimes it helps to just make the most obvious or definitely necessary moves first so you have less to think about and distract you. Sain can’t help on the main front and isn’t meant to anyway, so I just send him east as planned. There’s one more troubadour there I can kill next turn.

This thief wasn’t on a forest, so Canas hit him much more easily. Since Fiora was near the back, she was the obvious choice for killing the nearby enemy. Remember my tactical advice to strike with the rear units first and the front units last as a general rule.


So Hector can’t actually kill the troubadour without his Wolf Beil (and I don’t have enough of that left to want to use it), so I considered what would happen if I had Matthew weaken the troubadour and Hector attack with his handaxe. The odds are pretty good since Matthew only needs to hit once for Hector to be able to finish it. If Matthew misses both times, I’m out of luck, but I can at least clear out every other enemy in the area so it doesn’t matter that much if someone is asleep. I think the risk is worth the certainty of conserving the Wolf Beil.

What I’m more worried about is this ballista shooting a pegasus knight who then gets attacked by an enemy knight. As I suspected, Fiora is in range. I could rescue her out, but that’s probably not as good as just killing both nearby knights.

To calculate how much damage a ballista will do to a flyer, look at this number. Then subtract the archer’s strength. Then double the result (because the result is the ballista’s Might). Then add the strength back in, and lastly subtract your unit’s Def. In this case, the Ballista can’t kill Fiora from full, so all I need to do is make sure no knight can hit her.

The hammer is so great that even an un-leveled Dorcas can still wreck knights with it on 19xx. And if you’re wondering how he got injured, I believe he was actually shot by the ballista last turn. I hope it goes for him again since he can take it more easily than a flyer.

Not a bad level for Dorcas- he has absolutely terrible Speed growth.

And Hector managed to kill the troubadour! Some good luck there, but at this point in the map having someone fall asleep wouldn’t be so devastating anyway.

I checked the numbers and while Florina could kill the ballistician, she’d probably die to the nearby swarm of knights. So I used her to finish off the nearby thief instead. She’ll still be in range to finish the ballista next turn but now other people will be able to help kill the knights beforehand.
And another offensive level for her!

As I mentioned, I already know the thief will never flee the map. It’s just doing my work for me.

The enemy accomplishes nothing of note on their turn, so Hector kills one knight. That lets Florina kill the ballista safely.

So standing here in particular will force the longbow archer to move close to Sain, letting him move back and finally kill it without needing to go back further than necessary.

Ballisticians are always easy kills. Florina has been wrecking them since Chapter 8.

No nearby knight has a javelin, so I’d rather Hector equip his iron axe now, so Matthew trades to make that happen.

Fiora and Raven advance as close as possible while staying out of range. They’re injured and can’t be healed so I want Hector to tank for them. You’ll note that Matthew is exactly in range to open the northern door once the knight dies and then Raven and Florina can rescue-drop him out of the way.

On the enemy turn, the enemy takes the Eclipse as expected.

It’s not much XP, but it’s worth it.

I know Teodor has Eclipse and is on that throne, so it’s easy to figure out that this is the edge of his attack range. Eclipse isn’t really dangerous usually, but I do want to know what squares can be hit.

With a handaxe, Hector can beat the attacking archer as well as the wyvern riders who’ll come lunging out of Teodor’s room.

Taking this guy out with a javelin is more expensive than with the iron lance but less than the heavy spear- and it lets Florina avoid taking damage.

Matthew is close enough to reveal the wyvern riders. You can see that those stats are not messing around. Hector can handle it though.

Only Hector is in wyvern range. However, if I go through with my plan to rescue-drop Matthew out of the door area to make the enemy thieves run out, I need to be careful to avoid dropping into the nearby one’s range.

This position and dropping Matthew up should work.

Eclipse time! In all the excitement, Teodor seems to have forgotten that he’s actually the Shadow Hawk. Kenneth is the Shrike.

If this was Bolting, that would be a 58% chance of 27 or so damage.

Counting spaces, this is where the enemy thief with the treasure should now be. But I want to avoid Sain ending up in its range, because that thief would love to suicidally attack him and thereby deny me his Dragonshield.

Meanwhile, here’s the top right area. Other than Teodor and the thief with the treasure, these are the only remaining enemies.

Dorcas finishes a wyvern rider who Hector injured.

And another good level for him.

With the wyverns down, Hector moves to reveal Teodor without getting into Nosferatu range.

Yeah. There are a couple of translation typos and minor mix-ups in this level including Teodor getting his title wrong and the ambiguous way Nergal refers to Aenir as if she was a place. One gets the impression that they checked the script of the secretest of levels slightly less thoroughly than the ones most people would ever actually learn existed.

So Matthew goes for the treasure and Fiora follows behind so she can rescue him next turn. Raven will help with that. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the people or the time to put a proper rescue chain together this time, but this one should be good enough. And Dorcas is positioned so as to be able to lure the enemy thief with the treasure into the main chamber shortly.

Raven will need to be on hand to help with getting Matthew back into the main chamber, as will Florina (who missed with her Javelin) but there’s no reason for him not to try to weaken these guys as they make their getaway. Since the door is currently blocked, they won’t even be moving this turn though. In fact, nothing visible but another Eclipse miss is going to happen on the enemy turn at all (in the fog, the thief with the treasure will be advancing though).

My turn, the Talisman is mine.

Hector attacks Teodor with his iron axe and gets a fantastic level. Unfortunately, Teodor is still alive and well and next turn he’ll be using Nosferatu instead of Eclipse so things are going to get trickier.

Fiora, Florina, and Raven cooperate to get Matthew back as far as possible. Because I didn’t have much time this level to set things up, I couldn’t really do a good rescue chain. Still, these 6 spaces are critical because they’re going to let Matthew reach the treasure thief next turn with Dorcas as bait.

There’s the enemy attack range. Sain had better stay out. I want the only person in it to be Dorcas (and him on the top left edge) so I can be certain that the thief will attack Dorcas and therefore enter Matthew’s steal range.

Canas needs to get out of the way too, so he takes a potshot at an unimportant thief and misses. Oh well.

Phew, that makes things easier. The tome is still so heavy that Hector doubles him of course. If Hector doesn’t kill him right now, I can just pull back to Eclipse range for 1 turn and then finish him next time. Or have Sain assist since he’s about to arrive. Or just trust to luck and attack again and risk being Nosferatued, but I want to avoid that.

He’d still have been crippled by Eclipse. That’s what really did Teodor in.

Sweet! Hector is finally not 4 points or so behind in defense, though his mammoth speed edge is beginning to disappear.

Bait taken! The enemy thief badly injures Dorcas as expected, but now he’s in Matthew’s range.

So it’s now turn 7. I can finish this now after stealing from and then killing the thief or I can wait till turn 8 and get the guy’s Lockpick too, plus kill the other thieves.

Here’s the situation. There’s a hidden thief where my cursor is and he’s level 20, same as the one near Hector. I can’t kill either this turn, but I can kill both next turn if Hector stands on the staircase and therefore prevents them from fleeing. That’ll delay my win till turn 8 but let me kill those guys, plus steal the lockpick from the treasure-taking thief. 1 turn for 1200 gold and some XP seems like a good sell.

So first, Dorcas gets out before he dies.

Then Matthew takes the Dragonshield. I’ve decided to get the lockpick too and wait for turn 8, but there’s a problem: that enemy thief is badly injured and suicidally reckless. I need to make sure there’s a target nearby who can’t kill him.

So the solution is to take Matthew’s sword away. Since he’s unarmed, the enemy thief will want to target him. And he won’t be able to kill the enemy thief, so I’ll be able to steal the lockpick.

Hector blocks the stairs.

Canas kills one thief and nets a pretty solid level. More magic power is quite nice.

The enemy thief behaved exactly as expected! He attacked Matthew and therefore didn’t die, so now his lockpick is mine.

Fiora kills him for his Eclipse. I got all the treasure!

Florina injures the enemy thief.

And Canas lucks out and finishes it. I couldn’t have killed it without him getting lucky, but fighting high level thieves is pretty much always like that.

So now it’s turn 8 and I’m about to win.

She slipped away right before battle was joined- and note that unlike Uhai for example, Teodor seems to have had no knowledge she was here or orders to retrieve her. He was just after the prestige of killing Eliwood and the knowledge in this ancient library.

Lyn found her enraptured by a painting in one of the back rooms.

Everyone immediately assumes this is a picture of the Scouring- and that really tells you a lot about their culture. The very notion that one could do anything with dragons other than kill them is unknown at this point. It seems fairly clear that most people in Elibe don’t actually know- or at least think much about- the time of coexistence before the Scouring.

Lyn explains that no, it’s just one human and one dragon, not fighting. We don’t see this picture now, but 15 or so chapters later it will be the ending picture if you complete this level. Which is pretty awesome.

Eliwood recalls Teodor’s explanation of what these ruins are.

That is a very, very good question. Unfortunately, none of them ever find out the answer- let alone that that magic user was Nergal.

That’s the assumption we’ve been making, but actually Uhai and several others have said that that will not be enough: Nergal is far too powerful to be defeated. Hector and Eliwood have been pressing on ignoring those warnings.

Just after Eliwood leaves, Nergal arrives, apparently teleporting here by accident when he meant to go to the Dragon’s Gate. And he reveals that this was HIS home. That’s a huge twist the first time you play this level since it really sounds like it might have been Bramimond’s up till then. And it sheds new light on everything before and after this moment.

Yep, he confirms it. To be honest, I think it’s strange that the game makes no mention of Nergal and Bramimond knowing each other. Both of them studied the ultimate secrets of dark magic in the same place at the same time and Nergal went on to befriend Bramimond’s companion, Athos. Yet Nergal makes no mention of Bramimond or vice versa at any time and there’s no indication that they canonically interacted in any way at any point. To me it seems fairly likely that Nergal at least knew of Bramimond since they were practically neighbors and might have tried to follow in Bramimond’s recent example when he needed more power. But there’s no evidence either way for that.

This part is just perfect.

And then he leaves, mumbling about ‘power’ a few more times.

This chapter is amazing. Fire Emblem 7 at its peak, even despite the infamous Aenir ambiguity. I mean, most of you veteran players probably read about these revelations long ago so they’ve ceased to impress. But think back to the way the game looked on your first time through Eliwood’s story. And then think about how this chapter completely changes everything we know about Nergal.

Sure Nergal was a cool and threatening sort of villain, but there wasn’t much to him. He was just evil. People like Sonia were more interesting. As Athos explains things, Nergal more or less came out of nowhere as an incredibly powerful magician the match of Athos 500 years ago and then became evil in Arcadia and then completely inexplicably managed to lure Ninian and Nils through the dragon’s gate.

But this is at best half the story. And think about that. The man’s greatest friend and greatest foe – who is also the wisest and most knowledgeable man in the world- doesn’t know anything about Nergal’s origins. Neither do his children. And neither does he. No one knows the contents of this chapter. No one: not Eliwood, not Canas, not Athos, not Nils, not even Nergal himself knows where Nergal came from- or what happened to the man he used to be. There’s something very sad about that.

And it really gets worse when you consider what happened to him. To save his wife and protect his family, he willingly destroyed himself. But he didn’t get any of the things he bargained for. His wife was, so far as we know, never seen again- he probably forgot to even rescue her. He didn’t return for his children and they assumed he died and passed through the gate, now orphans. And a thousand years later when they were reunited, he was so warped and changed that neither of them recognized the other. He had, in fact, tried to murder his own children to steal their life force without even knowing it. And when that plan failed, he made them pawns in his scheme to do the same to other dragons. He tried to protect a dragon and save his family and in doing so became the greatest danger ever to his children and to all dragonkind- as well as the greatest source of evil in his own world.

And somehow worst of all, that didn’t happen to him instantly. When he opened himself to dark magic 1000 years ago, he didn’t instantly become the nearly mindless, power-hungry Nergal we fight in this game. No, he was for at least 500 years still a reasonable sort of dark wizard- maybe he even thought he was the same person. He’d just lost all memory of his family and his own life without knowing it. And all grasp that he’d once had a purpose for the power he now wielded pointlessly.

Poor guy.

Total Restarts: 11 (I restarted this chapter once to figure out the enemy thief AI and get a good screenshot of most of the middle revealed)
Turn Surplus: 0 (Could have made it with 1 left, but that lockpick was worth the wait). I’ve got plenty of time to build up for the next 0 chapter now.
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, like 10 more enemies I could have killed if Hector could have survived one more turn on chapter18, and Uhai who decided to take a 100% chance of death to Sain over a free hit on Hector