Part 16: Birds of a Feather
Eliwood and company set their sights on Laus. The road from Pherae to Laus passes through Santaruz. Eliwood suspects his missing father must have visited Santaruz en route to Ostia. Eliwood arranges a meeting with the local ruling lord to see what he can learn.
: Yes. He has set up camp on a hill south of here. He seeks permission to enter Santaruz, and an audience with you.
: Could it be... Do you think Eliwood's come to ask of his father?
: Tell him you know nothing, and let him be on his way.
: Yet... I know young Eliwood well. His father, Elbert, and I are old friends. I've no children of my own, and I've always treasured Eliwood... I do not believe I could look him in the eye and... I could not lie to him. I could not.
: We've no choice then. Let us chase the boy away. If you do not speak with him, you need not tell lies.
: Wait! Do you mean to harm Eliwood?
: Frighten, not hurt. A few scratches will leave no scars. He will run home to Pherae and be done with his adventure. He is, after all, all Pherae has left.
Well then. The gentleman on the left is Lord Helman, Marquess of Santaruz. Dracula on the right there is Ephidel. It's clear that something's going on behind the scenes here, and Lord Elbert was definitely involved.
: We should meet with Marquess Santaruz and request his assistance... I see the sense in that. It's a good plan, Art.
: Truly so. I tell you again, I'm pleased to have you with us. Lord Helman... He's not only my father's friend. I've known him since I was a child. I'm sure he will be able to help us.
: What? Lord Eliwood, beware!
: Poor villager? You look nothing like an honest man. Clear the road. Step quickly, or...
: Step quickly? Heh heh... Maybe it's you who should follow it! Someone wants the boy in an early grave. A shame if you ask me, but he'll die here today. C'mon boys, earn your keep!
: Just like old times... Seems our fates are bound. Natalie? Oh, she's still in Pherae. I'm working for you this time, so she's not too worried. Guide my axe, Art.
Okay, let's get started.
We start in the southwest corner this time. There's a village to the north we can take care of at our leisure, but otherwise there's nothing really special about our position.
Our foes are bunched up in the northeast corner. There's 15 of them altogether, and the goal for the chapter is to rout them all.
Aside from being fat as hell, Zagan's nothing special. Being a fighter rather than a brigand gives him better defenses and speed, plus that steel axe is going to hit pretty damn hard given our available units. Lowen and Eliwood are going to be carrying this one.
Starting things off though, Marcus visits the village.
: No need to conceal it, I've fought many a battle in my time, I assure you. Let me tell you one thing about combat though, the most important thing is technique. My instructor gave me this book long ago. It will improve the fighting prowess of the one who reads it. I'm too old to make use of it, so why don't you take it?
Well thank you, old man. Secret Books are good for 2 points of skill. For now, it's just another power-up to throw on the pile.
Bartre drops his hand axe with Dorcas, and Eliwood, Lowen, and Rebecca form up for the front line, as a brigand wanders toward us.
Lowen and Rebecca weaken the brigand, and Eliwood comes in for the kill and a level.
If only, if only. Lowen trades blows with a mercenary in an eventful enemy phase.
Rebecca takes a shot at the mercenary, and Lowen finishes him off. Eliwood moves east, and Dorcas heads north.
: It's up to me to finish him.
Zagan is the first boss who can actually move, and from this point on, any boss that's not standing on a siezeable square will be capable of doing so as well. Some will actively come to us, such as Zagan here, and others will wait for us to enter their range. Regardless, bosses on the move are plenty dangerous.
Zagan starts heading south, and the enemies form a nice little conga line on their side of the mountains.
: You! Soldier! Are you just going to stand there and watch?
: Who do you think you are? This is Santaruz. What occurs here is no affair of any foreign lordling!
: I believe I'm going to have to disagree with you. You see, the man they're attacking happens to be a friend of mine.
: A friend? What? URGH!
: Sorry, but I'm in a hurry.
: Nicely done, my lord! You're a fighter born.
: I cannot condone resorting to force so quickly...
: Chastise me later, Oswin. First, we deal with these brigands! Come, we must help Eliwood!
: Help Eliwood? Sounds like a convenient excuse for more violence.
: Yes, yes, I'm coming.
: Take Serra and find someplace to hide.
: What? With... With Serra?
: No! I'm going with you!
: You are not! You'll only slow us down!
: Oh, how rude.
: Oswin, let's go!
And with that, we have some new friends in the north.
With our main group, Rebecca hops into the fortress, and Eliwood and Lowe form up around her to keep bandits off of her. Eliwood decides to get flashy when he deals with a brigand.
How, I wonder, does he manage to do a flip like that? His posture didn't even change. Dorcas keeps on heading north, and takes out a soldier with his hand axe. He also gets an axe level from the attack.
Now then, our new friends.
Hector is a knight in lord's clothing, but he's all the more awesome for it. He uses axes, and comes with a personal one, the Wolf Beil. It is, as with the other personal weapons, effective against cavaliers and knights, and it's fairly accurate for an axe.
Oswin is among the best knights in the series, and damn, look at those those bases. He's the guy to go to for defending basically anything.
Oswin attacks the archer, dropping him to 2 HP, as Hector goes to town on a soldier.
Yes, all is right with the world. Hector is attacked by a pair of soldiers, who he quickly dispatches, and the archer hits him for 2 damage. Rebecca gets attacked by a brigand, but she easily dodges him.
Rebecca backs up a bit as Lowen hops into the fortress to heal up. Eliwood finishes off the brigand, and Hector tries for the archer, but misses. Dorcas finishes the job. Everyone else more or less holds their position.
A mercenary tries his luck, but he plinks agains Lowen's armor. Eliwood dodges a fighter.
Rebecca and Lowen kill the mercenary, and Eliwood finishes the fighter. Lowen gains a level in the process.
Yeah, no real surprises. Hector, Oswin, and Dorcas start heading south to regroup. Another fighter tries his luck against Eliwood, and gives him a level for the trouble.
I would really like some strength, but that's not too bad. He also gains a level in swords on top of it. An archer lands an attack on him, but it only does three damage.
With Lowen now more or less fully healed I moved in closer to the choke point. Rebecca takes a shot at the fighter, and Lowen nearly kills the archer, as Eliwood dispatches the fighter. The archer moves into the forest vacated by the fighter to attack Rebecca, and is killed in return.
Very nice. Zagan finally makes his way down and attacks Lowen.
: Let me show you boys how it's done!
His steel axe lands for 13 damage on Lowen, who returns fire for 7 damage. Zagan's still trucking along with 25 HP, which puts me in a bit of a difficult situation.
Before the chapter ends, I have Hector pop into the armory real quick.
He grabs an Iron axe to spare his Wolf Beil, a sword for Eliwood's rapier, and a lance for Lowen in close combat.
Back on the battlefield, Lowen puts down a vulnerary to heal up, and Eliwood and Rebecca move in to take shots at him. Both land, leaving him at 12 HP, which drops to 5 after he attacks Lowen again. A mercenary also joins in, but he can only deal 1 damage to Lowen, so he's hardly a threat.
Time to finish things up. Rebecca and Eliwood polish off the mercenary, and Lowen kills off Zagan.
: This...was not...so easy...as it seemed...
Offensive stats are always good for Lowen, and the resistance is nice as well.
: Hector! Where did you come from?
: Well met, Eliwood.
: Yes, but...what are you doing here?
: You wound me! You're looking for your father, right? Why didn't you send word?
: Your brother was just named Marquess Ostia. He's going to be very busy setting up his court council. Lord Uther must need your support. You are his brother, after all.
: My brother is not so weak. Oh, he has mentioned some things in public, but...he knew exactly what I was planning and he let me go.
: Is that so? Well then, it would be unwise to refuse his kindness! It does me good to see you, Hector. Thank you.
: Think nothing of it.
: Well met, Lord Eliwood.
: It's good to see you again, Oswin. So you came as well?
: Yes. Lord Uther was worried about Lord Hector traveling alone. I've been ordered to keep a close eye on him.
: Ha ha ha! Of course! Good to have you with us.
: Why didn't you tell us the fighting was over?
: I apologize for the interruption. I couldn't restrain her any longer!
: Are these your companions, Hector?
: Oh... Yes, I suppose they are. One might have hoped for better, but...
: That was uncalled for! I can't believe you said that! Matthew, did you hear what he said about you?
: Me? He was talking about you!
: Hector, why don't you introduce us?
: The noisy one is Serra. Believe it or not, she's a cleric. And that's Matthew. He does a lot of...sneaking around.
: Well... I, er...gather information, open doors, chests, and such. I've got...nimble fingers.
: That sounds...like a thief's work.
: Well, don't let it worry you. This journey... I suspect it will be harder than you imagine. You may have to accept things like this if you want to survive.
: What is it, Hector? Do you know something?
: Nothing specific. Rumors abound, though. A league of assassins from Bern has been moving aroudn in Lycia. Experienced bounty hunters and mercenaries are vanishing...
: That reminds me. One of the men who attacked us said something odd.
: Marcus! Good to see you.
: Lord Hector, it's been far too long. Your assistance is greatly appreciated.
: Come now, Marcus. No need for such formalities. Tell me what you heard.
: Of course. THe apparent leader of that gang of thugs... He indicated that someone was watching Lord Eliwood. That someone wanted him dead.
: Hm... That is troubling. Actually, a captain of the guard was watching the fight when we arrived. He was a knight of Santaruz, yet he just stood there and let a lord be attacked. I think he was planning on seeing you die.
: Eh? My secret's revealed? Oh, that. Yes, it's true. My guise as a common thief was but a ruse. I've served House Ostia for some time as a spy of sorts! Surprised? Well, regardless, it looks like we'll be traveling together again. Here's to our mutual survival!
: You missed me, didn't you? Of course you did, I knew it. Hm? Didn't I tell you before? I'm in the employ of Ostia, Lycia's ruling territory. I'll be here to help you, just like before! Aren't you lucky!
Yes Serra, "lucky." That's exactly how I'd describe it.
Hector is our final lord, and by god he's a good one. He's basically a knight with a respectable speed growth, which makes him very strong, very tough, and fast enough he can actually do some fighting. He's not perfect, as it's quite possible to see him end up speed-screwed, but even then he serves as a wonderful knight replacement. He's not RNG-proof, but between him and Oswin, it's about the closest you're going to get to an unpromoted unit being so.
You know, I never realized how bad Oswin's growths are in general. His base stats go a long way to making him very good, because as a whole, his growths are pretty unspectacular. His defense is the highest in the game, and his HP is tied with Lowen and Hector for number one as well, but everything else is not that great. Not that it will ever really stop him, because Oswin is one of the best units in the game. He won't think twice about capping defense, and on average he'll damn near top off HP and Strength as well. Give him the boots so he can actually reach combat before it's all over, and you'll have a winner on your hands.
Who is this guy? We know he's involved in some kind of conspiracy that involves Lord Elbert as well as Marquess Santaruz, and this is certainly not the last we'll be seeing of him.