Part 24: The Dread Isle
an enigmatic young girl named Ninian. The majority of the island is covered in dense forest. Legend has it that no one has ever returned from those dark woods. A dense fog crawls over the party, engulfing them one by one Cautiously, they move deeper into the trees.
: I will not let you move unopposed!
: Wh-What shall we do, Lord Nergal? With both siblings gone, we can no longer hold the ceremony.
: How many times must I tell you, Lord Darin? You are being used by this man! By helping him bring dragons back into this world, you are helping him destroy mankind! Do you understand?!?
: Pah...ha ha ha... Destroy mankind? Dragons may have been a threat to mankind in ages past, but with Lord Nergal's power, we've got nothing to fear! Lord Nergal can control dragons! Ha ha...ha ha ha...
: Lord Darin... You're already lost.
: I'd planned to start a war in Lycia. The war I was plotting in Lycia would've generated a glorious amount of FORCE in one blow. You were not equal to the task, it seems. Not to worry. I've other means at hand.
: Black-hearted fiend! Guuuh!
: Hold your tongue. There is still a task you must perform for me.
: My beloved morphs, my beauteous works of art. I've new jobs for you, my pets. First, Limstella. You will go to Bern and contact Sonia. I want you to arrange a meeting with the king.
: Ephidel, take this...man, Marquess Laus, and go. I want you to exterminate the mice who've landed on this island.
: Yes, master.
: That leaves you, Marquess Pherae. It seems your legacy is one of endurance.
: Should he be congratulated on making it this far?
: Eliwood? My son is here? Stop! Do with me what you will, but let my son be!
: Hm? Heh...Hehahahaha! Remember the siblings you freed? The girl's here, too. As a matter of fact, she's with your son, Eliwood. Quite a delicious twist of fate, wouldn't you say?
: ...This can't be...
: Eliwood will die in these woods. The girl will be returned to me, and the ceremony will take place. Hm... Despite those long hours of torture, you remain undaunted. Such courage will make you the perfect sacrifice, Marquess Pherae.
: Eliwood... Turn back... Take the girl and flee... ...Please...
Oh. Oh dear. Now the shit is getting dangerously close to the fan.
: I must inform Lord Hector of these events... If I hurry, I may be in time. What!?
: Leila... Where are you going?
: Lord Ephidel... The sentries... I'm going to check on...
: You overheard, did you not? ...And I had such hopes for you. Jaffar!
: ...Impressive, Jaffar. Your power is beyond compare.
: Take this woman's corpse and leave it in the forest. Let it serve as a warning to those fools.
Correction: The shit has hit the fan. Poor Matthew...
: It's starting to get foggy... Try not to get separated.
: "Enter and be lost." It feels like we're not coming back.
: Hector! Are you trying to curse us?
: Are you well, Ninian?
: ...Y-Yes... I'm... I'll be fine.
: Someone's there!
: Who? A sentry?
: Impressive work, finding your way here!
: ...Something's wrong. Leila? Lei--!
: ...This can't be. She was one of our best spies. Leila...
: ...Why do you apologize, my lord? Leila blundered. ...That's all.
: Matthew... Leila was... She was...
: After this mission, I was going to ask her to put this life behind her... Waited too long, didn't I? Ha... ...My lord, might I...rejoin you later? She has to be buried...
: ...Of course.
: Ah... I'll go with you...
: ...Let them be alone. There's nothing else we can do...
: They put her out here for us to find like this!
: Unforgivable! This is... a foul deed. Beyond foul.
: ...Let's go! The foe is somewhere in this forest. We must stop this before any more die!
: Ah! ...Beware! Something comes!
: ...If you value her life, send the girl to me.
: You, you're Sacaen!
: That's correct. I am Uhai of the Black Fang. I've been sent to capture the girl, and to kill the lot of you. If, however, you hand over the girl and depart the island at once, I'll grant you your lives.
: And if we refuse?
: You know nothing, little lord. Nothing of Nergal's might. Nothing of his terrible power. You are ignorant, and so you hope to oppose him. You are insects railing against the heavens. Your actions will change nothing. Speak no more foolishness and begone!
: ...Maybe we don't know what it is we're fighting... But if we flee, our loss is assured. So we will continue to struggle, and we may yet prevail!
: Holding a woman hostage during battle is shameful. You, too, are of Sacae, and I've a mind to show you mercy. I will let you die with a sword in your hands. But rest assured... I will kill you all here. But be of good cheer! In dying, you shall all be spared the calamity that is to come!
: Ninian, you must hide. We will meet the enemy!
Well, the stakes are definitely rising here. The difficulty, however, generally fails to match the rising plot. Chapter 19 puts up a fair amount of resistance, but this chunk of the game is pretty easy.
We start here in the northwest corner. Our crew is Guy, Raven, Lyn, Florina, Canas, Priscilla, Lucius, Erk, Lowen, Oswin, Matthew, and Dart. Lots of cavaliers and nomads around, the latter of which are particularly irritating, but otherwise it's nothing too bad.
Uhai is hanging out down here in the southeast corner. There's a sidequest available if we can slay him in 15 turns, which is easier than it sounds. Nothing of note preparations-wise, so let's get started.
: I'm Dart, leader of Fargus's suicide squad! The captain's ordered me to follow your commands. So who do you want me to take care of?
Fargus would call it a suicide squad, wouldn't he? Still, Dart is pretty awesome, which we'll get to in a second.
: Matthew? You don't have to...
: What are you talking about? Look at this eerie place, this thick fog... This is exactly why you brought me with you.
: I'm fine. Trust me.
: ...I understand. I do rely on you.
: As well you should, my lord! Tell me, Leila... This is what you'd want, right? You wouldn't want me to give up. I'll mourn for you when our battle is won. I must fulfill my duty. So rest... I promise I will take care of everything.
For someone who just lost his girlfriend/fiancee, he's holding up remarkably well. All the better, I suppose. I'd hate to have him run off and be all angsty on a fog of war map.
Anyway, general strategy. Guy and Raven are going to be hanging out to knock out some pirate reinforcements that come from the northeast and northwest corners. Once that's taken care of, Guy and Canas are going to take care of the right side. Matthew and Dart are going to abuse their ability to walk on water to clean out the center of the map, and the rest of the force is going to head south, with Lowen and Oswin leading the charge.
Now, let's get back to Dart here.
Dart is a pretty solid axe unit, and he's pretty comparable to where Dorcas is right now.
Guy starts things up by getting a level in swords off the pirate to the east, and Canas finishes him off for first blood.
Adequate, I suppose. Typical mage level. Oswin doubles an archer to the south, and picks up a level himself.
Another typical Oswin level. So close to maxing defense, and strength won't be too far behind that. Lowen picks up a level in lances during the enemy phase, and kills the cavalier to pick up an actual level as well.
My man Lowen! Could use some skill, but otherwise he's coming along pretty well. Lucius gets harassed by a nomad, and Priscilla levels up patching him up.
Eh. Lucius will show her how it's done, especially coming off of what he did last chapter.
...Or he can get the exact same level. Okay, that works, he got two spectacular ones last chapter. One mediocre one won't hurt.
Matthew abuses the fact that pirates can walk on water to draw one out of the center and attack him. It pays off handsomely, even if he did get whacked with a 30% hit rate.
Haha holy shit so much HP... Still, this is great.
: Look, everyone. Your sacrifices were not in vain. I'll fulfill our duty, even if I must do it myself. I am a true knight of Ilia!
Well, who do we have here?
Wait, no, come back here goddammit! This is Fiora, Florina's sister. As you can see, she has a wonderful tendency to run off and try to "help," which more often than not ends up getting her killed. Thankfully, she parked right next to our units so Priscilla can rescue her until Florina can get down here.
Anyway, Fiora is reasonably competent, and makes a fine replacement for Florina if she didn't turn out so great. There's a third Peg Knight to be had, but only in Hector's story, so we won't be seeing her for a very long time.
At this point, the pirates start rolling in from the north, so Guy and Raven are about to see some action. Canas moves a little further south, attracting some attention of his own.
Canas picks up a Nosferatu tome of his very own after killing a shaman. Next up, Florina has a chat with her sister.
: Florina! Why are you here?
: I'm here with Lady Lyndis. What are you doing here?
: ...I was investigating the Dread Isle for someone.
: By yourself?
: No... There were others...a full unit of pegasus knights. We were attacked...
: You can't mean...
: ...All of my knights are dead because of me... I'm a failure.
: That's not true! You're a splendid pegasus knight! I chose this path because I admired you so! Please...don't do this to yourself!
: Florina, please don't cry.
: ...I'm sorry.
: No, it's my fault. The pain of being the sole survivor... It had me trapped. ...Thank you, Florina. I can see clearly now.
: ...Fiora! Come and travel with us! It's better to travel with friends than to struggle alone.
: ...You're right. I hate to admit it, but I can't do everything alone. Nor can I render my companions' sacrifices moot by going home. Florina, please introduce me to your commander. I'll see if I can offer my services for a short while.
And new party member. Lowen and Oswin continue the slow, steady march south. Fiora gets put to work killing a cavalier, and Matthew and Florina finish off a particularly annoying nomad.
Longbows aren't particularly accurate, but they let you attack from three squares away, letting you get away with things like attacking other archers or magic users. In the north, Guy picks up a level from pirates.
Not overly impressive, but not terrible either. I'll take it. This turn marks the end of the pirates, so Raven and Guy start heading south. Matthew throws up a torch, letting us see most of the map.
Ah, there's Uhai.
Uhai himself is a pretty serious threat. He can easily hit up close or at range, he hits reasonably hard, and he's got some pretty good defenses. His Orion Bolt is good for promoting Nomads or Archers.
As we close in and pick off the last of Uhai's minions, Erk gets a level from a nomad.
Not bad at all. I like it. He even gets an Anima level out of it. Oswin positions himself to bait Uhai into using his longbow as he kills off the last minion.
Nothing done this turn, but Oswin moves in close to attempt a shot with the Horseslayer. Sadly, he misses, but I have Lowen, Florina, and him box Uhai in, which forces him to switch to his Steel Sword. He nearly kills Florina, but she lives and gets a level out of it.
Bleh. Terrible. However, now that he's using his sword, Oswin takes another shot with the Horseslayer. Uhai isn't so lucky the second time, and takes 19 damage, which drops him to 8 HP.
Wonderful, our first stat capped. Skill is also nice, because he hasn't been getting very much of that. Lowen and Lucius soften up Uhai a bit more, and Eliwood comes in for the kill.
: If you are determined to block our progress, then you shall be moved!
: Do your worst!
Eliwood gladly obliges.
: You are... stronger... stronger than I expected. Out of respect... ...a final gift from me... From here, go south. ...Turn at the rotted tree. Head...west. There lies the path to the... ...Dragon's Gate... Unnh...
You just had to end like that, didn't you Eliwood? We pocket his Orion Bolt and the chapter is over.
: I wish we could've met under different circumstances.
: ...Do we trust him?
: He was a Sacaen. He would not lie. ...I, at least, choose to believe him.
: ...Let's go then.
: To the Dragon's Gate!
Axe users aren't the best units in the game, but if you're going to use one aside from Hector, Dart's your man. He has the absolute best strength growth in the game, and his speed growth is second only to Lyn and the myrmidons/thieves. He won't be able to take much of a hit, but he starts with a pretty big chunk of HP and has quite a respectable growth so survivability isn't too much of an issue. His big problem is that he uses axes and his skill growth is absolutely terrible. When he does hit, however, there are very few survivors.
Fiora fills pretty much the same niche as Florina, and some ways actually does so better. Fiora is more focused on skill than her sister, and her defensive growths are much better (Florina's are 15% and 35% respectively). She's be marginally slower and weaker, but the increased survivability is worth it in my opinion. That said, if Florina is already turning out great, no reason to throw that away for a potential unit.