Part 33: Pale Flower of Darkness
Although the trail vanishes, Lyn uses her tracking skills, and the pursuit continues. The path leads up into Bern's impassable mountains. The peaks know no seasons, and the snow covers all in a bright blanket. In this land of blinding reflections, an ancient castle appears.
: I only introduced you to Lord Nergal out of respect for your rank. I was mistaken, though, to think a former royal soldier would be-
: Next time will be different, I swear it. I beg of you, give me one more chance!
: Ha ha ha "One more chance"? Surely you jest.
: Without Lord Nergal's good word, I'll never fly again! Not as a royal wyvern knight, at least! Please! Another chance!
: Ah, but you're quite skilled at begging, at least. Desist. You have fallen from our graces, and nothing will change that. Just be grateful. You are an outsider, so you are spared the Fang's judgment.
: You stink of failure. Leave me to breathe in peace.
: Yes, Lady Sonia.
: There are two types of people in this world, Ursula. Those chosen to lead, and those fit only to serve: human refuse. That's all. Only two types. I am the former, a perfect specimen chosen by Lord Nergal. You want to be like me, don't you, Ursula?
: Yes, of course.
: Then you must use the refuse to your advantage. Treat them as equals, and they will only drag you down. That woman Vaida is a good example. She treats the trash as though they were people. That dooms her to failure. She is truly a fool. You, however... You, I like. You must take care. It would be a shame to see you fail as Vaida did.
: I understand. Thank you, most gracious Lady Sonia.
Jesus, that was so much concentrated I was starting to have trouble breathing. Sonia is such an inspiring role model.
: That was the same woman we fought earlier. That proves that they took this mountain path.
: Now that they've come this far, they've let down their guard. You can see their tracks in the snow as plain as day.
: And you tracked them without fail. Amazing.
: Hee hee... Anything to say, Hector?
: Ah...uh...I was wrong to doubt you.
: At least you admit it.
: The fortress there must be their headquarters.
: Let's sneak in and see what we can find!
: Right. Follow my lead!
: ...Why do these two seem to be having so much fun?
: What a complicated place.
: It's little more than whispers, but I can hear human voices.
: Over there! Let's go take a look.
: Marcus! Wait here with Ninian and everyone else. Be ready to escape at any time. I'm counting on you!
: Yes, sir. I will not fail.
: You're giving me a mission? Really and truly!? Mother!
: I am. And it's a very big job at that. It's for the king of Bern.
: The king!? Such an important job for me?
: Sonia, I'm against this. Giving such a dangerous job to this child
: You're right, this really is a job for your sons. However, we've seen nothing of them since their last report.
: Lloyd Linus
: So my daughter will do this. And I will have no complaints from you about it.
: Ah! Father
: Look! That man! He was at the Dragon's Gate.
: Nergal's henchman. No question about it.
: Don't your wounds hurt?
: Must you be so discourteous? It really is quite irritating. You heard the king's request, did you not?
: Prince Zephiel He wants him assassinated.
: What? The prince? The king wants to kill the prince? Why? He's his son, isn't he?
: Nino! Be quiet.
: Ah I'm sorry.
: Jaffar, this mission is yours and you're to take Nino.
Even Jaffar is breaking his silence to call bullshit on this.
: Yes, I'm serious. This girl is my daughter. She must prove herself as soon as possible.
: Don't do this. This is too much for her.
: As long as you're with her, there should be no problem. I'll brook no disagreement. We must have the king in our debt. Those are Lord Nergal's explicit orders.
: Nino! You understand the consequences if you fail, don't you?
: Um Yes.
: Then we're off to investigate the prince's manse. I'll provide more details on the way there.
: Yes, Lady Sonia.
: Where is Brendan? He just left the room.
: He went outside with Jan.
: I wonder what he's about I'll deal with it later. Listen, Kenneth. You're in charge of the guard while I'm gone. Do not let anything happen to the item.
: Understood. I will guard it with my life.
: Aye. On the orders of the king, it would seem. Unbelievable
: The Emblem is essential to the prince's ceremony, right? Having the Emblem becomes useless if the prince is dead!
: We must stop the assassination! The girl, Nino If we speak to her, she might understand.
: Jaffar looks like a dangerous man But we have no other course of action.
: Imagine, the stronghold of a guild of assassins, infiltrated. Quite amusing, isn't it. Heh heh heh.
: However, you shall not leave. Sonia has given me authority while she is away.
: You... You're a holy man. What are you doing in this place?
: Are you referring to my relationship with the "gods"? Are you still held in thrall of such a concept? You've met Lord Nergal, haven't you? Then there is something you must know. Gods are lies created by the weakness in all mankind. If a god truly exists, then it is my lord Nergal. Only him.
: Eliwood! Waste no time with that madman! Let's get out of-
: We can't! Something's blocking the way. We can't get out!
: That man. The one in front of you... A surge of evil...
: Nothing is more beautiful than the suffering of men. While I'm watching, I'm afloat in an ocean of pure bliss... I will watch you for a long, long time.
: It's all right. He's still close In this building somewhere.
: We've got to defeat him and destroy this barrier! Otherwise, we'll never leave!
: Art! We have to find that man and escape this place! What are your orders?!
Ah, Kenneth. What a delightful fellow. Pale Flower of Darkness is the second map that changes based on your units, and is decided by the combined levels of your Hero Crest users and Guiding Ring users. If the Guiding Ring combined total is higher, you get this map.
Snow's falling, as it will be for most of the map, though it does let up for a couple turns every now and then. The group is Hector, Dart, Raven, Lowen, Dorcas, Rebecca, Rath, Lucius, Serra, Priscilla, Erk, and Ninian. Raven and Erk are going to deal with the general and mages right nearby.
The front door, predictably, is locked, so we can't get in that way. Rebecca and Dorcas will be coming this way to pick off the wyverns and play shooting gallery with the mages inside though.
Pretty much everyone else is heading north. The chapter's other gimmick are those three generic promoted mages. If we kill two or more of them by the end of the tenth turn, we'll get to recruit one unit. If we've killed only one, we get a different unit. We're going for the latter one. Also adding to the fun: the bishop has a Purge tome and the druid has Eclipse. Why yes, I do enjoy dodging a shitton of long-range attacks I can't do anything about.
There's treasure to be had as well, though it's nothing special. And of course, ol' Kenny is sitting on the throne.
Kenneth is the start of the late game trend of high level magic units that will completely fuck your day up if you're not using Canas and Luna. Pretty much no one can touch him magically, and anyone coming after him physically is going to be a world of hurt. That Aura tome is the A-level Light tome, and it's roughly equivalent to a Killer weapon in terms of power/critical rating. So on top of getting slammed with a huge magical attack, you've got to worry about getting criticaled on top of it. Fortunately, he's still pretty weak defensively, so if you can get a good hit or two in, he's pretty much done.
This asshole can thankfully be reached on the first turn with a little help from Ninian and a longbow.
This is a very good idea, because it is the only source of Bolting for you in the entire game. All the better that he hasn't gotten to waste it on us yet.
Raven starts things off after killing pretty much everyone in the room. As for the level? Let's just say it's going to be a long chapter. The sage at least drops a chest key for us.
He pulls a repeat performance finishing the general and Erk tops him off before heading north.
Dorcas, on the other hand, is busy killing wyvern riders to the east. His fortunes are about the same, though.
In the far north, Lucius decides that getting stabbed by wyverns kind of hurts, and looks to mitigate it. A shame he doesn't do much else. Amusingly, two wyverns go after Lucius, despite being in range of Rath. Not that it would have turned out much better for them.
I will never understand why enemies insist on attempting attacks with a 0 hit rate. I mean, I know that they're set to always attack when possible, but I would think they'd have included some kind of fail-safe like "If Hitrate < *some incredibly low number*, then don't bother attacking." Not going to complain that he's wasting all his Eclipse charges though.
A monk chooses to attack Rath, which doesn't exactly work out in his favor. A...timely level, if nothing else.
Oh for... Would you fucking stop that? Purge is about as strong as Bolting, and slightly more accurate as well, which makes it incredibly annoying. If this isn't enough fun, imagine there also being the Bolting asshole that we killed on the first turn running around on top of Purge and Eclipse flying.
Finally, at the start of turn 5 or 6, the snow lets up. This is the point at which you rush into the main building to get out of the snow, because it'll be back within 2 or 3 turns.
Alternatively, you can use the time to actually launch an offense against the long-rangers and wyverns. Hector's ridiculously oversized sword leads the charge.
Oh for god's sake, you have a 1% hit chance on Hector. And he's not even in a fucking forest or anything!
More shooting gallery shenanigans. At least he's getting bow practice out of it.
It's almost impressive that he managed a double-digit hit rate, but then you realize that he has the weapon triangle advantage and would have had a 0 hit rate if not for that.
Oh for fuck's sake. Erk hurries back, but Merlinus is going to have to take a round or two. Fortunately, he's level 19 now and has fucking insane luck and fairly high speed, so he'll be alright.
What a way to use that last charge, champ. Fortunately, we no longer have to endure his bullshit.
Rath puts another arrow in a shaman and gets one of the better levels of the chapter.
A thief shows up on turn 9 to get you to start moving your ass if you haven't already. Fortunately, Raven is already at the chests and our little buddy here has to get through all of our units to get to the chests.
First treasure: More money.
A very Serra-esque level.
And Erk finishes cleaning up back at the base.
: Let them go. We've nothing against you. We must gain the trust of the Black Fang and get close to that man. We must avenge the death of our liege, Lord Elbert
Well about fucking time.
Harken is actually really good for a prepromote. Not Pent-good, but he's pretty close. He's there if Raven doesn't turn out, but he could pretty easily be used on his own if you were so inclined. He also comes with a Brave Sword (), I believe the only one in the game.
Anyway, being a Pheraen knight, pretty much anyone from Pherae, and even Hector and Oswin can recruit him without trouble. Lowen's going to be doing the honors here.
More treasure! The Talisman is for increasing resistance by 2.
Now let's have a little chat.
: Wait, please. It has to be you... Lord Harken, a knight of Pherae!
: You... You're one of Marcus's young men.
: Yes! I am Lowen. I'm currently traveling with Lord Eliwood. I'd heard that your entire company fell, Lord Harken. And yet, at least you survived! Lord Eliwood will be pleased. Why are you here in this place?
: I failed in my duty to protect my sworn lord... I am not worthy of being of a knight of Pherae. Before that monster's magic, we were annihilated. When Lord Elbert was taken away, I was...powerless... I learned that the man who took Lord Elbert, Nergal, shared some connection to the Black Fang. I searched the continent for signs of them... I intended to strike against them with my final breath.
: What a tale! Come, you can join with us, Lord Harken.
: I can't, Lowen. I would rather die a knight than live in shame. I will trade my life for many of theirs.
: Wait, please! Lord Elbert would not have wanted this! Please, be prudent. Lord Eliwood, Lord Marcus, Lady Isabella*... I know that none of them would want you to do this.
: ...You're right. You speak the truth, young Lowen. Let us go and see Lord Eliwood. My life for my dead lord, and for his son Eliwood.
*I assume he actually means Isadora, because I don't even think there's an Isabella in the game
Finally, now we can go murder the shit out of that Druid and Bishop.
But first, Hector smites the thief. Not going to argue with this on this chapter.
Last chest: another goddamn Guiding Ring. I guess we can toss this one to Canas since there's only one other person it could conceivably go to, and they're not getting it.
Dart, Serra, and Rebecca head west to go Druid-slaying, and Priscilla and Rath head toward the boss to deal with the bishop and mages floating around.
Priscilla is just on fire here.
Even Lowen gets in on the killing with what's a spectacular level, all things considered.
Let's talk about Kenneth for a second. This is Lucius, hands down our best magic user on the map, and arguably the best magic user we have right now period. And he's going to get skull-fucked even trying his luck against Kenneth.
Comparatively, Rath here can do a shitton of damage, but he's going to be taking a beating in return. The solution?
Abuse the shit out of a longbow, of course.
: But it's about time to put an end to this.
Fortunately, both shots land. All that remains is to finish the job. Dart gets the job, but not without some precautions. Erk fetches a barrier staff from Merlinus to make sure we don't get completely fucked if things go wrong. I also use Filla's Might on him to make sure he can do it one hit.
Of course, Serra gets one last level out of all this. A shame it wasn't a good one. Hell, I'd have taken a mediocre one at this point.
Welp, here's the odds. We're still fucked if he criticals, but at least Dart can take two shots if it comes down to it.
Fortunately, the first blow lands.
He also drops this little goodie, which is promptly passed to Lucius. Eliwood seizes the throne and we're out of here.
: It must be terrifying, to lose yourself entirely To fall completely under the sway of Nergal's power Hey! What could this be?
: It can't be the Fire Emblem?
: So this knave had it all along? Let's take it and go!
: We've finally gotten it back Let's not waste our good fortune.
: Eliwood! There's no reason for us to stay any longer!
: I know! Let's make haste for the manse! We must stop the assassination! We cannot let the prince's life be put in jeopardy!
: The plan must be carried out tonight.
: Mother just once if only for a little while may I hold your hand?
: Nino, you know how I abhor such displays.
: I I know. But I may not get another chance And I thought
: Very well.
: If you complete this mission, I'll hold your hand as often as you like. I will even hug you and stroke your face.
: Oh, really!? Then I must do my best! I will, I will! I will succeed! Wait for me, Mother!
: I will. Be careful!
: All right! I'll be back!
: Ah, Jaffar, wait here a moment.
: It's about tonight's mission
: What is it?
: The assassinations Both come directly by the king's request. The prince is well loved, and his death will trigger much chaos. If the assassin is not caught and hanged immediately, the chaos will engulf Bern. A scapegoat is needed. Do you understand?
: Nino is your daughter!
: She is trash. Garbage. Human refuse. I'm just happy at last to have found a use for her. She did say she would do anything to please her loving mother, did she not? Her death will please me more than her living ever did.
: What is it? Do you have something to say?
: This has nothing to do with me.
: When Lord Nergal found you as an orphan, he chose you because of your callous heart and your skill with a blade. Lord Nergal does not give second chances. Do not forget.
Cold. Hearted. Bitch. Next time: Probably my favorite map in the game.
Harken, much like the other prepromotes, is really only there for if Raven doesn't turn out. However, much like Pent (and the other unit we can get on this map), his bases are so high that he's actually quite capable of being used on his own, even if he's not quite as good as a fully raised Raven might be. Also lending him huge points is the fact that he comes with one of the few (if not, the only) Brave Swords in the game. His growths are a bit low, but he doesn't need them to be that high given his bases, and they're still better given some units *coughGuyStrengthcough*