Part 29: Living Legend
A wasteland of scorching sun and frigid nights. It rejects human life. Any careless enough to enter its embrace is doomed to wander lost. Uther, the marquess of Ostia, spoke of a living legend Guided by his words, Eliwood heads straight into the desert.
: Hey, do you want me to carry you on my back?
: Why are you looking at me like that?
: Such kindness from you surprised me, Lord Hector. Is this some fever dream?
: What's that supposed to mean? I was concerned that you might collapse again, like the other day.
: You're usually so brusque. It's no wonder he's confused. Don't be shy, Nils. Let him help you out.
: Do as you're told, boy!
: Waaaaaaa! I'm going to fall! I'm going to fall!
: And yet we've seen no one.
: I wonder if we need to move farther in?
: ...You might be right.
: This heat is taking its toll on you. If you please, take my arm.
: I couldn't...
: Oh, come now.
: ...Very well. Forgive me...
: ...It's strange.
: What is?
: All of you treat my brother and me so...normally. Doesn't it bother you? Our powers...our looks... We're different from...people...
: Has that been bothering you? What's wrong with being a bit different from other people? When I look at you, I don't see other people. I see Ninian. I see a normal, kindhearted girl.
: Do you speak truly?
: Is it Lord Pent?
: No, it's a group sent by Uther of Ostia. Hawkeye will find them soon and bring them here. Hmph. Your companion is still searching in the desert.
: He's not having any luck finding what he's after, is he?
: No, I believe he'll find it before long. ...However, a group of bandits is also moving. They've found Pent and are preparing to attack.
: Oh, that's...
: Are you concerned for his safety?
: No, Lord Pent can take care of himself. However, if his return here is delayed...
: I will wait for Lord Pent, but I'm sure you must be hungry.
What is it with this game and food jokes? I mean, it's basically Lowen's entire character, Louise and Athos here, Matthew and Guy have the whole duel over food, and I'm sure there's more I've forgotten.
: Ha ha ha ha...
: Lord Athos? What is it?
: ...It's you, Louise. You are a most amusing woman. Since Pent brought you here, I feel I've laughed enough for ten years! You have my gratitude.
: Hm? I'm not sure I understand, but I'm pleased to have been of service.
: Ha ha ha.
: By the way, the visitors are coming from Lycia, aren't they? I wonder what they want.
: Lord Archsage, your coloring... Are you well?
: Once it begins to turn, none can halt the wheel of fate. But as long as there is hope, people continue to try. ...They do not know the despair that awaits...
: Are you sure?
: Ah! That must be him!
: Looks like....a lone man and a crowd of bandits.
: Let's help him! I dislike seeing someone facing overwhelming odds!
: Hold on, Lyn! I'm going with you!
: Hey, you two!
: Where do they get all that energy? Unbelievable.
: ...What will you do?
: Let's go! Have to keep up with one's friends, right?
: He's waiting all by himself to give us his treasure!
: Oho, Paul! I do believe you're right! Such generosity!
: ...It's taken me many days to find this. I've worked too hard to hand this over to you thugs.
: So rude! And to think we were going to let you live... We're fragile creatures! You can't trifle with our emotions so! You're a bad man! He's so bad, Jasmine!
: Oh, Paul. I know it. I really do. My heart, it is breaking.
: What? You, too, Jasmine?
: And you as well, Paul?
: Let's go! We must convince him to reconsider!
: ...I've no wish to hurt you...
And that brings us to preparations. This chapter serves several purposes, but we'll get to that in a second. First and foremost, this is the token desert map, which means everyone except flyers and on-foot magic users (no, it's not really ever explained why, but I guess "Magic!" is a good an explanation as any) are getting their movement cut in half, and much like rain, those on horseback are cut even worse. Another Fire Emblem staple, the desert map has plenty of buried stuff around to pick up, all of which is quite valuable, so thieves are a must. They're guaranteed to pick up treasure, whereas other units only have a 1/11 chance.
We start in the northeast corner, where the only plains tiles on the map are. The B-team is back in full force, with a few extra. Matthew is tagging along to help out with treasure, and Lucius is the A-team powerhouse to keep us from getting in over our head.
The second gimmick of the map, as you could probably guess from the whole bandit thing is that there are two bosses on this map.
Jasmine is by far the more manageable of the two. His hand axe is a bit annoying, but he's really not that accurate, and steel isn't that bad to get hit with. He also has a Guiding Ring for us to pilfer, though I'm not sure why.
Paul is a bit more troublesome. He has no ranged attacks, but that Killer Axe is far more problematic. I usually leave him for last, because especially with his cut range, he's mostly harmless and we can easily run circles around him.
Now, the big "twist." These two are one of three pairs in the game that already have a support bond (with two of the three pairs being enemies). An A-rank Fire/Thunder pair would give them a bonus of [Attack + 1, Defense + 1, Accuracy + 7, Avoid + 15, Critical + 15, Critical Evade + 7], and you really, really don't want that. Especially Paul and his Killer Axe.
Most of the treasure is hidden around the bones scattered on the map, which gives you something to aim for at least. Also that shaman way in the bottom corner has a Luna book he'll drop after killing him.
Then...there's this guy.
Pent is not a unit to be fucked around with. The only units on the entire map who can even think about giving him trouble are Paul and Jasmine, and the enemies will gleefully run right to him and suicide away. This is a bit of a problem, because we need to get 700 exp by the end of the map to unlock the next sidequest, and he'll soak up a lot of potential combat experience if we let him. Fortunately, it's fairly easy to get a flyer and rescue him within two or three turns, and even if he does steal some kills, there's still plenty of experience to go around if you play your cards right.
Anyway, time to get started. We're not carting him along, but this is what Canas would have to say if we ever bother to let him back on the field.
: Actually, this is quite fascinating. Art, the Nabata wasteland is a bit of a paradise to magic adepts. Stories tell of the many magical artifacts lost in these sands. I'll keep my eyes open. Of course, I'll be fighting as well.
This is one of the only in-game clues that there's buried treasure (aside from the augury, which no one does or has ever used). Our first priority is to clean up the opening area and get someone to Pent as soon as possible. To this end, the group splits in two. Guy, Erk, Lucius, Matthew, and Rebecca go east, and Eliwood, Serra, Legault, Heath, Florina, and Ninian are going south.
This is how one of Pent's typical encounters go. I don't think I should have to describe the outcome.
After the first turn, this guy pops up. Eliwood needs to talk to him, which is fine, because that's exactly where he was headed anyway.
: I'm Hawkeye, defender of this desert.
: Defender? Of a desert?
: I will drive out the bandits. Guests need not fight.
: Please wait! Guests!?
Quick and to the point. I like this guy already.
I'd say I like him even more after looking at his stats, but of course it's prepromote syndrome at work here. Dart is way ahead of him in speed and only slightly behind in skill and defense/resistance. Not that it matters, because once he promotes, Dart is going to get even better. Still, Hawkeye has a shitton of HP, so he's great for tanking purposes.
Erk is pretty handy for cleaning up the mages that can easily hit and run on this map. Getting a spectacular level while doing so is icing on the cake.
Lucius is, of course, significantly better at that job. Not quite as nice a level though.
Ninian's dance is quite helpful for clearing out some of the more pesky mages, but her levels can leave a bit to be desired. She's almost maxed out now, actually. It's almost a shame she doesn't have a promotion because it would be hilarious to see her running around with 30 speed, luck, and resistance.
This is a very, very interesting Rebecca. It's been a long time since I've seen such a skill-screwed archer.
First treasure! The Ocean Seal is good for promoting pirates...so basically, it's only purpose is to promote Dart. Should you not be using him, it can be sold for a cool 25,000 Gold, I believe.
We also set up to kill Jasmine on turn 3. Matthew will easily dodge the hand axe, grab the Guiding Ring, and then we fucking wail on him.
Sure enough, he takes the bait.
And that's all we needed you for. Guy fails to critical with his Killing Edge, so Rebecca takes a pair of shots with her longbow, and Heath gets the kill.
: These people are too strong, Paul...
I like it. Lucius runs out and deals with our Luna-wielding friend, and Florina fends off a wyvern rider.
This is acceptable. Not that it helps a whole lot, it means she can do 5 damage to the wyvern instead of 4.
By turn 5 or so, we've pretty much gained control of the center of the map. Erk continues to impress, and I forsee him getting an A-team position if he keeps this up.
In the south, there's a particular wyvern rider that's a pain in my ass. Like all wyvern riders, he's got pretty good defense, and he's fast enough that with his iron lance, he'll double Heath's steel and do about half of his health. Florina has the same problem, and can only double him with a slim lance.
Heath starts by taking a shot with the javelin, and I can definitely deal with this.
Florina...not so much. After running the math, I decide the best way out of this is to run Serra into the middle of this and heal Florina. That way, I don't risk the AI actually landing and killing Florina, and I can get Lucius or someone down to quickly finish this off. Serra barely survives the attack, but it's all she needed to do.
What a trooper. Bleeding out and still picking up pretty good levels. This is also quite important because she gets up to B in staves with this, so we can really start having fun. Physic staves are worth 22 experience a pop, and now she can use them every turn as necessary to get a ton of experience in a very short amount of time. Of course, there is a limit to how much I'll do it. Physic staves are very expensive and only have 15 uses.
Hawkeye's battle sprite, for the curious. He actually has a unique attack animation as well, but I didn't use him on this map. Maybe next chapter.
Matthew picks up this one by the center set of bones. Eclipse is the long range Dark tome. It boasts a massive 30 hit, but if it hits, it instantly cuts the victim's HP in half. And this works on anyone. Including the final boss.
South of the center bones is this one. Much like Nini's Grace boosts defense and resistance by 10, Filla's Might is good for increasing Strength/Magic by 10. Good for if you need a big push on a stubborn enemy or something, but far more situational than the absurd general usefulness of Nini's Grace.
Lucius improves on his last level after killing the last non-Paul enemy on the map. Also, he's gotten Luck at least twice in a row now, and he has something ridiculously low like a 10 or 15% growth rate in that.
Legault finds this one on the southern ridge. Body Rings are good for increasing constitution, which is far more useful in the GBA games than Path of Radiance/Radiant Dawn, since it's still used for speed penalties here.
The Light Brand is an interesting weapon that's fairly strong, but slightly inaccurate. At close range, it acts like a sword, but at range it functions like light magic. Nifty, but there's only one and it's very situational in use.
Last one. Nothing left to do but kill Paul now. Matthew will once again act as bait, this time in the fortress. Paul lacks a hand axe, so bombard him afterwards and the job'll done.
Ninian is our first character maxed out. Not bad, all things considered.
I'm half-tempted to give Serra the healer position in Chapter 23, just to see if she turns out. Of course, then she's fighting both Lucius and Priscilla for a position, and who knows where that would go.
Matthew continues to make a mockery of hit rates, and effortlessly shows Paul up.
Matthew, that is not how swords work. What are you even doing?
Anyway, Heath is the lowest leveled member on the field, so I give him the final blow on Paul too.
: Aaah... It's a tragedy, Jasmine.
Well that one wasn't so hot, but 2 out of 3 levels being good isn't bad.
: We couldn't watch such a lopsided battle. That's all.
: So why have you come to this wasteland?
: Well... We were told to come here and meet a "living legend."
: "Living legend"? Ha ha ha! I see. That's well said.
: But do you know what it means?
: Yes, I suppose I do. Looks like we share a common destination.
: Pent, did you find it?
: That I did. And as I thought, it's spectacular.
: It's getting dark. Let's go back.
: Yes, let's make haste. Desert nights are treacherous.
: Oh OK.
: No matter how far we go, there's just more sand... Whoa!?
: Hector? What is...it... Hect... Kyaa!
: Hector? Lyndis? Where did those two... Hnh? What in blazes!? I'm... I'm sinking into the sand!
To the best of my knowledge, that's the only time aside from the one in Lyn's story where they do any setup whatsoever for the sidequest, aside from a little pop-up at the end of the mission. it's an...interesting touch that probably should have just gone at the start of next chapter, but whatever.
Hawkeye is the second possible berserker, and prepromote syndrome all but guarantees that Dart is going to outclass him. He does have a crazy amount of HP going for him and his defenses are actually pretty good, so he's a quite capable tank for a while, but he's far from the best axe user available. All things considered, he's barely what I'd call the best prepromoted axe user (and it's only his ridiculous HP and the fact that's he's a berserker that give him that).
Bonus: Treasure map