Part 6: In Occupation's Shadow
She and her colleagues stop for the night at a ruined fortress. The Ganelon bandits are in a rage after their bretheren fell to Lyn's swords. They race in pursuit of the companions, their angry footsteps sound closer and closer...
: This mildewy old fortress? Is this the best we can do? Come Wil, surely you jest!
: The bandits keep everything in turmoil around here. No one has the time to worry about travelers. And there are rather a lot of us.
: This will be fine. Who wants to be stuck inside, anyway? I prefer a place where I can feel the wind blow.
: As long as I'm at Lyn's side, I'll be fine.
: And for your protection, your man-at-arms Sain will be right here by your side, ladies.
: Sain, both you and I are to remain awake. We will alternate the watch.
: Ah, alas...
It would appear that we're not the only ones hiding out in the castle.
: My name's Natalie. I'm from a village not far from here... Ah! Ow...
: Are you all right? Hm? Your leg...
: It's fine. Don't worry, it's from a childhood sickness. I can't travel far on it, but it doesn't trouble me much.
: What are you doing here all by yourself?
: I'm looking for my husband. I heard he was in this area. He said he was going to raise money to have my leg mended. He left the village and hasn't returned. He's a kindhearted man, but I think he might be involved in something dangerous. I got so worried... Here's a sketch of him. It's a poor likeness at best, but... His name is Dorcas. Do you know of him?
: I'm sorry, I don't believe I've seen or heard of him.
: I see. If you do meet him, please give him a message. Tell him Natalie is looking for him.
: I will tell him, I promise.
...And here we go again.
: So they've decided to hole up in this ruined fortress. Perfect. We'll wait 'til it gets dark, and then...
: You're an idiot! There are only a few of them, and some are women! If we attacked them at night, I'd be a laughingstock! Besides, we might hurt the women by mistake! I will not be so wasteful!
: You're right, Carjiga! You're so smart!
: We'll avenge Migal, and get some pretty souveniers to boot. Who knows, maybe I'll be a leader after all. Ha ha ha! Let's go! Spread out and encircle the place, you rogues! Let's finish this before it gets too dark to see!
Persistent little sons of bitches, aren't they?
: Your name's...Dorcas, right?
: You haven't done much since you joined us. If those weapons of yours aren't just for show, today's the day to let us see what you can do.
: I want you to attack from the back entrance to the east. There's supposed to be a woman inside. I want you to capture her. Do that, and I'll increase your share of the take. If you want gold, you'll get the job done.
: A bunch of women? It would break Natalie's heart to see me sink so low.
: Outside the fortress! Bandits!
: What did you say?
: Persistent bunch, aren't they? What do you think? Shall we go out and face them?
: No... Natalie cannot move well, and that would put her in danger. Let them come to us. We'll fight here, within these walls. Art, take over. The comand is yours. All we have to do is hold out until they tire and leave. Rest easy, Natalie. No one will harm you! Listen everyone! Fight with caution!
: Art! This fortress has two entrances. That's where we must meet the enemy. I'll take the eastern door. Art, you and the others guard the main door.
So here's our map. It's a little bit bigger, but still quite managable. This chapter introduces a couple of new things. First, rather than a Rout or Seize victory, this is a defense chapter. We have to keep a person/the throne/etc. safe from enemies for X turns, and in this case Natalie has to live 7 turns. She only has 10 HP, so pretty much anything is going to kill her immediately.
This is our defensive "formation." Lyn and Florina take the east side, Wil is going to deal with the bandits to the west, and Kent and Sain hold the center. In the enemy phase, the fighter is the first to go after Lyn.
Well, it would seem we've found our wayward husband. A mercenary starts attacking the broken wall to the west, Wil is attacked by an archer, Kent and Sain are both attacked by Brigands, and Kent gets a level up.
If this is a joke, Kent, it's not very funny.
: Doesn't he look somewhat like that picture of Natalie's husband?
Next on the list of firsts for this chapter is recruitable enemies. Send the correct unit to speak with an enemy, and you can convert them into a friendly unit. 99% of the time, this will be one of the three lords, though there are exceptions. Let's send Lyn over.
: ...How do you know my name?
: Natalie told me. What are you doing with these rogues?
: I need money...
: That may be, but...joining up with mercenaries?
: It's the only way to earn gold in these parts. I'll do anything...even this.
: For gold? Anything? Would you hurt your wife? Natalie is here! We're protecting her within this fortress!
: What!? Natalie's... She's here?
: She was so worried that she came looking for you. Think, Dorcas! Would your actions please your wife?
: ...You're right. I understand. I can't do this. I'm done with these bandits. Here and now.
: Yes. And I would repay you for your kindness toward Natalie. Allow me to fight for you.
And with that, we've gained a new companion.
Ignore the HP missing, I forgot to show his stats until like the last turn. Anyway, Dorcas is a fighter, whose existence can be summed up as "Big fucking ball of HP that hits pretty hard (assuming they hit)." Let's try him out.
While the hand axe can hit farther away, it's not very accurate. Thankfully, the brigand was nice enough to drop an Iron Axe for Dorcas to use in close quarters. Florina heads north, to the upper-right corner, and Wil kills the archer that attacked him last turn for a level.
Not bad. strength would have been nice, but Speed and Skill are pretty important.
Sain kills his bandit, and we end the turn. The mercenary continues to chip away at the wall, but he's only doing 8 HP a turn to a 50 HP wall. Kent and Sain are both attacked again by brigands.
: Grrr! Get more men up here now!
The final "first" of this chapter is reinforcements. In this particular chapter, a mercenary will appear in the northeast corner, and a brigand in the southwest one every turn. On most maps, killing the boss will stop reinforcements from appearing, but not always. Anyway, this is a great training spot for Florina, because with an Iron Lance, she can kill the mercenaries every turn (attack on her turn, kill on the enemy phase), and they'll be doing at most 2 HP, which is easily taken care of with a Vulnerary, so that's pretty much what she's going to be doing for the rest of the map.
Dorcas moves to the center of the castle, and Lyn starts heading south to deal with Carjiga. I have Wil go after the brigand rather than the mercenary. The mercenary won't do enough damage to the wall to break it until the chapter is over (7th enemy phase), but the brigand is much stronger, and neither can fight back. Kent and Sain both kill their brigands, which are replaced with a mercenary for Kent and another brigand for Sain. Florina kills the mercenary during the enemy phase and gets a level.
Not bad. Not really great, but it'll do.
Wil is just offscreen above the mercenary to the left, Florina's in the corner. Lyn moves south to the forest, which will grab the archer's attention, then she can knock out Carjiga in peace. Dorcas can have a conversation with his wife if you wish, and we don't exactly need him for combat right now.
: Is it you?
: Natalie, are you all right? What were you thinking, coming out all this way?
: I was worried about you. Please, don't let my leg trouble you anymore. You mustn't put yourself in such danger. Please!
: I'm sorry. I must have been out of my head. I didn't realize... That girl Lyn made me open my eyes.
: Lyndis brought you here?
: I'll explain later. We've got to drive back these bandits first. Listen, stay put. Don't move from here.
: All right. As long as you're here, I know I'm safe.
How touching. Wil attacks the brigand again, bringing him to 3 HP, Florina attacks a mercenary, and Kent and Sain both kill their enemies. Unfortunately, Kent finds himself on the wrong side of the weapon triangle and takes an axe to the face in the enemy phase, though he's fast and accurate enough to land twice with his lance. Sain nets a level up from a brigand's attack.
The defense is good, and more skill is always nice for Sain. Lyn is attacked by the archer, who misses.
We start the turn by killing the archer with Lyn. Wil kills the brigand, and Florina continues to do her thing. Kent and Sain both kill again, and Sain gets a Sword level increase.
During the enemy phase, Florina kills a mercenary, Lyn kills the south bandit near Carjiga, and Kent finds himself looking at the business end of an axe again, which drops him down to 3 HP. Fortunately, Kent didn't find that very amusing.
Very nice. He even got a level out of it.
Jesus, where the hell have these levels been Kent? You're safe...for now, I guess.
Time to finally clean up Carjiga.
His Steel Axe would be a lot more dangerous if there weren't a forest literally right next to him. Combined with Lyn's avoid and weapon advantage, he clocks in a 13% hit rate.
: You! Bring more men here right away!
Predictably, he misses, and Lyn criticals on her second hit, felling him in one round.
More offensive gains, no defense. Strength is good, though, and she even gets a sword level. With that out of the way, Wil moves down and starts attacking the mercenary, Kent heals up with a Vulnerary, and Sain moves down to the woods beneath Kent. Dorcas moves into position to block the main entrance.
In the enemy phase, Florina gets a level for killing another mercenary.
Bleh, typical. Sain is attacked by the southernmost bandit and kills him, and the more northern one dies going after Dorcas.
The fighter solution: If you still have a problem, you didn't hit it hard enough or enough times. He's got some mad hangtime though.
This is a map where the reinforcements don't stop with the boss, so I figure I'll milk them for all they're worth. Sain kills the bandit in the southwest corner , and Kent heads north to deal with the mercenary that Wil can only get down to 2 HP. In the enemy phase, both mercenaries end themselves against Kent and Florina, which brings the chapter to a close (and defeating all enemies! Failing to rout the enemies anyway is a waste of experience).
: Listen up rogues! Retreat! Fall back!
: I'm so sorry, Natalie.
: All's well that ends well. Right, Natalie?
: I'll take Natalie home and return tomorrow.
: Hm? Why can't we just say our farewells today?
: Well, I... I spoke with Art. I... I've been invited to join your group.
: But we're going to Lycia.
: I have to go somewhere to earn money. If you think I'll be of use, I'd like to fight for you. You helped my wife... I owe you.
: Please, Lyn. We are both in agreement on this. Watch over my husband.
: We'll continue taking turns keeping watch. Please rest easily.
: Is that all right? Are you sure? Sain?
: Oh! Er, yes! Of course!
: Let me warn you. If bandits sneak up on you, they'll cut you down without mercy. Do you understand that?
: What, do you doubt my bravery? Am I not a knight? There's no need to worry! Right, Kent?
: If there's anything suspicious, we'll take care of it. Rest assured.
: Really? Well, good night then. See you tomorrow, Art.
: Let's go.
: Ha! No one ever trusts me...
That Speed growth! I'm not a huge fan of the warrior class as a whole, but Dorcas is just kind of...bad. The second fighter we get has a higher HP growth, double the speed growth, and better defenses. Pretty much the only reason to use Dorcas over him is the fact that Dorcas will come in at a higher level and already trained, especially if you're coming from Lyn's story.