Part 11: Vortex of Strategy
However, Caelin is now under the rule of Lord Lundgren. Lundgren's henchmen lay in wait to assassinate Lyn, and they await her approach by readying a special weapon.
: We've come such a long way...
: Milady Lyndis! Art! We can't be very far from the castle now!
: By my reckoning, we can reach Castle Caelin in two days, if we hurry.
: Two more days... Hold on, Grandfather. Please...
: Cheer up, Lyn. If they see you looking so sad, the entire company will lose heart.
: Florina... You're right. There's nothing to be gained by worrying. We just have to press onward.
: That's the spirit!
: What did you say?
: I don't see anything. Are you sure?
: I feel it, too. I'm sure of it. Ah! Milady, don't move!
Gameplay integration? In the middle of a cutscene? How rude.
: They have a ballista!
: Lord Lundgren is getting serious. Deploying siege engines is no mean feat.
: What is a ballista?
: It's a weapon designed for long-distance attacks. Only archers can use them, but they can be devastating.
: Is there a way to combat it?
: The safest course is to use someone with good defense as bait, so the enemy wastes arrows.
: Then you can walk up and knock the fool on the head.
: Wil, can you use a ballista?
: I've never tried, but... It's just a really big bow, right? I should be able to figure it out.
: All we ask is that you try.
: I have some minor...business...to attend to. I'm unable to join you. If you need any of my possessions, please take them now.
"Business," eh? So nice of him to let us know in advance he's skipping out on this map. With Matthew unavailable, and being limited to nine units anyway, we're going with the same crew as last map, so Kent and Nils are still warming the bench.
The ballista is located rather inconveniently in the center of the map there, and Florina's really not an option to try and attack head on with. Sadly, we're going to have to go around there, getting shot at all the while.
The boss is neither new nor scary, but his Axereaver is a bit interesting. Essentially, a "reaver" weapon reverses the triangle, so lances beat axes, etc. This is actually pretty good on his part, because it means we can't march Dorcas up there with his Hammer. Sain has an armorslayer that'll do the trick nicely though.
Getting things going, we start by sending Lucius towards the eastern village. Florina pops in the armory and grabs an Iron Bow for Wil, and the crew starts moving south. Lucius dodges the ballista, and is attacked by the mage and shaman. He doesn't take that very well.
And to think, I tried reseeding the RNG so this would get better, not worse.
This mercenary is positioned in a way that makes him a bit of a pain. Sain, Lyn, Dorcas, and Erk can all get to him, but it'll end up leaving Lyn or Erk exposed to those cavaliers, and Dorcas doesn't have a chance of hitting the mercenary in the first place. I end up using Dorcas and Lyn to form a wall to hide Erk behind, like so.
I end up getting really lucky, because both cavaliers go after Lyn, and if both of them had hit, she'd have died. Fortunately, both miss and Lyn slaughters them with the Mani Katti, as Lucius continues east, and Serra gets nailed by the ballista for 9 damage.
I'm sorry Vicas, the 2 defense promotion dream is over.
: Call up for reinforcements and rush 'em!
First, Lucius finally reaches the village.
: (Blah blah Reaver weapons invert triangle) Take this as a gift. It's a reward for listening to an old man ramble. Don't be so shy, it's not like I can use the thing. Not everyone can wield a sword of this caliber. I'm sure you know someone who can use it, though.
How nice. Back on the west side, Dorcas, Rath, and Erk clear a path for Sain, and he rides east so he can kill the archer in the ballista next turn. Serra heals herself up, and dodges the ballista's second shot.
Sain kills the archer, freeing up the ballista for Wil's use. Florina flies out to the center of the map, and the group continues south. Erk dodges the bandit's attack, but isn't able to kill him on the return.
After softening up the bandit, Florina comes down and claims the kill, and Dorcas and Erk clean up the soldiers.
With the enemy archers gone, Wil hops in the ballista to put it to our use. He takes a shot at one of the soliders, and Erk follows up.
Fuck me, really?
The whole group of enemies there with the boss have Reaver weapons, so I put Florina in range of the bandit and soldier. The mercenary with a Lancereaver would have an advantage over her, but he's out of range. The other two are happy to run right into Florina and die horribly.
This is probably the best level I've gotten in several chapters. And it's not even that good.
The mercenary went after Sain, but Dorcas is standing by to deal with his Lancereaver. Sain grabs his Armorslayer and heads for the boss.
: What's going on here? Somebody, get that girl!
Wil helpfully puts a ballista bolt in him, and Sain finishes the job.
: I pray you hurry...with those reinforcements...you promised.
I give up. There's nothing left to say at this point.
: Yes, I see no more enemy soldiers. However, something is bothering me. I noticed it during the fighting. Our opponents... They were soldiers of Caelin. I even recognized some of those we fought. I trained with many of them... And yet they attacked us without hesistation.
: They're black-hearted traitors who've joined Lord Lundgren. Good riddance, I say. It also means less resistance at the castle.
: I hope you're right...
: I'm just glad Nils and Ninian were with us. If that first shot had hit me, I might not have survived.
: We're honored to have served you well.
: We won't let you down!
: I know, I'm relying on you.
: Nicely done!
: Matthew, where were you during all this?
: I went to the village to sniff about for information. I got some interesting news for my trouble, too.
: Let's hear it!
: He really is unwell. He's been abed for nigh on three months. I heard an interesting rumor about his condition, though. The people believe someone's been poisoning the marquess...
: He's being poisoned!?
: And this someone... Well, everyone's too afraid to mention a name. However, they say that as soon as the marquess took ill, a certain noble took control of the castle as though it were his own. I fed a hungry innkeeper a coin, and he fed me a name.
: How can this be? How can they allow him to get away with this? The villagers know he's the one poisoning my grandfather, and yet no one raises a hand against him? Why?
: They are afraid, and they lack proof. The whispers of the common people mean nothing.
: That's the truth of it. And of the marquess's loyal retainers who might have lent credence to these rumors, there is no sign.
: Are you saying they've been silenced?
: It's a fair assumption.
: This is beyond believing.
: The worst news is yet to come.
: What? There's more?
: At least, that's the story Lundgren's telling to all who'll listen.
: What does that mean?
: It means that people are waiting for two traitorous knights and a baseborn child to lay claim to Castle Caelin.
: But... But that... It can't be!
: Traitors? Us? Ridiculous!
: He says... I'm an imposter?
: Don't you have anything that proves your lineage?
: When my mother joined the Lorca, she brought nothing of Lycia with her.
: Milady, Marquess Araphen himself remarked at your resemblance to Lady Madelyn. Your face is your proof!
: They'll say we found a look-alike somewhere... We're seen as betrayers of our knightly vows. Our word means nothing. No, our only hope is to see Marquess Caelin himself.
: We must hurry. If not, my grandfather... I must see him! With my last breath, if need be.
: But we must formulate some manner of plan! Even if we set out for the castle, the troops patrolling the area will cause no end of problems. You've been branded as oathbreakers, after all.
: He seemed sympathetic to our plight. He should still be in Kathelet. If we can talk to him, he might help us! Back to Kathelet!