Part 38: Sands of Time
Now, only Nergal's echoing laughter remains On Hector's advice, the group heads toward Ostia. They are weary to the bone, and they need time to regroup. Ostia is the most heavily guarded fortress city in all of Lycia. No enemy should have been able to breach its walls.
: We're pleased to see you home alive and well!
: Where's my brother?
: Ah He departed yesterday for a conference in Etruria. He's scheduled to return in a half month's time.
: Etruria? That's a pity. Go and prepare rooms for my companions. They need rest.
: Tell me! What are we supposed to do now?
: A moment, lad Yes, I suppose you've a right to know
: I first met Nergal some 500 years ago, wandering the Nabata wasteland. Like me, his only drive was the search for truth in this world. We were equals in power and knowledge, and we became fast friends. We believed we could solve the mysteries of the world. We truly believed
: So what happened?
: A disagreement, made at the height of our quest. One day, as I charted the mysteries of Nabata, I came across the most amazing village It was unbelievable, but in that place, humans and dragons lived together in cooperation.
: Dragons and humans? Are you telling me they could live together in peace?
: At first, I doubted what my own eyes showed me. But yes, the village truly did exist.
: That's amazing...
: The dragons that I beheld there They were both similar to and different from the dragons I had fought hundreds of years before.
: ...Please go on.
: As you wish.
: They had refused to fight humans in the war, and instead, they retreated to this wasteland. They desired nothing but to remain hidden from the outside. Nergal and I crafted a barrier and created an oasis for them. Upon their invitation, we lived there with them. Our life there It was calm and satisfying. At some point, the village became known as Arcadia, a place of perfect peace for travelers gone astray.
: The dragons' libraries were a dream come true to us. We studied their language and history with unbridled passion. A century, then two Time passed in an eye's blink. And yet, slowly, our thoughts turned down different paths.
: In what way?
: I wanted to share the dragons' wisdom with others. My hope was for our earthly paradise to spread outward.
: And Nergal?
: Ah, Nergal He took the dragons' knowledge He learned the art of stealing the essence from living creatures and turning it into power.
: It was terrible. When we discovered what he was doing, the elders and I tried to persuade him to stop. But the power bewitched him, and he was deaf to our pleas. He started with small creatures and grew ever more confident. Then, he began draining the quintessence of humans. The villagers and I joined forces and defeated him. Or so we thought, but
: After he was banished from Arcadia, Nergal fled to Bern. He increased his power slowly to avoid our eye. Using quintessence, he made his "puppets," the morphs. They're bewitching in form, with intellects beyond human. I'm sure you've laid eyes on them yourselves. Jet black hair, pale complexion, and blood-red lips Their most striking features are their glittering gold eyes.
: L-Lord Hector! It's bad! An unknown group has breached the castle walls!
: How did they get in the castle without anyone noticing them!?
: They just appeared out of nowhere! The attack was so sudden, the castle guards were annihilated!
: Castle Ostia is famed far and wide as being impregnable If it's been breached so easily, can we save it!?
: It's Nergal. His magic created an entrance for his thugs within the castle.
: Blast! That arrogant-- No matter what, the throne must be protected! I'll not let the castle fall while my brother's away!
: Hold on, Hector! I'm going with you!
Well that's rude. We were trying to get some backstory out of the way and Nergal just has to teleport some assholes in the castle.
So, Sands of Time. Our goal is to protect the throne for 11 turns, which is easy in general, but doubly so given how many units we get.
The main bulk of our troops start by the throne. Joining us as special guests are Marcus and Wallace, because Oswin isn't with this group and Lowen is going the opposite direction of Marcus. Also, note the archers. While it's true that most of them are using poison bows and therefore could not be more ineffectual if they tried, there are Silver Bows tossed in as well, mostly on the snipers. Flyers without the Delphi shield are not recommended here.
We also have four units that are just kind of stuck here. These should be some of your hardier units, but they're not going to in much danger unless you mess up. Harken, Vaida, Jaffar, and Oswin are blocking here. Also, the druid to the right?
Silence staff. Fortunately, Silence isn't nearly as debilitating as Sleep or Berserk, and if you don't have a magic user nearby, he won't even bother to cast it.
Treasure to the south of our main position...
...And in the southwest corner. There's also a secret shop selling all the basic promotion items in the courtyard east of the chest, but you need the warp staff to send a unit to it, and a rescue staff to bring them back if you plan on using them for the rest of the the chapter.
Finally, to the far south, we have Denning (and a Sleep staff druid to his left).
Denning isn't very dangerous as long as you don't let him use his Silver Bow. Also, you can very easily cheese the mission if you feel like it, due to the fact that he's a sniper. Now then, to arms.
: Art! Do you have something against me? Heh, you know better than that. Let me tell you, Vaida is not your average wyvern rider! Art, sit back and watch me perform!
Now that's the can-do attitude I like to see.
: "I await you on the Dread Isle." This is a message from Lord Nergal. "I await you on the Dread Isle." This is a message
Really? He couldn't have sent a letter or something? Had to go with "morph stuck on repeat?" Poor bastard.
: Don't overexert yourself.
: I'm fine I'm not that weak.
: You! You're one of Lord Hector's guests, aren't you? You shouldn't be out here, it's too dangerous! Go and hide in that room! Do you understand?
So much chatting. The plan is, as usual, fuck survival; kill everyone. Our main group is to split into half, with each side covering one of the entrances to the throne room. Our side group is pretty much going to stay in that general area while Jaffar rushes for the southwest chest. The north groups will work their way south, everyone will group in the middle, then charge down to murder the shit out of Denning.
Here's our troop split. Hector and his magical entourage, and Eliwood and Lyn with the physicals.
Pictured: What I got to see for most of the map. Seriously, the only really threatening things are the druids and Denning. Also, the above swordmaster could not double Oswin.
Also pictured: the other thing that I got to see for most of the chapter. For whatever reason, the AI prioritizes killing them over your units, so you can pretty much kill at your leisure. They don't give a shit about you unless you're the only target available.
Oswin gives no fucks about poison. Also seriously, what the hell is going on here? Why all these speed levels with nothing else?
Our druid buddy has some very misplaced priorities.
No seriously, so many fucking archers. And I'm pretty sure there are still a couple on their way up. So let's cut that number down a little bit.
Speed's now two away from his cap, Skill is one, and Strength four. The only point of dismay is that assuming he gets HP every level he'll end up with 59/60 max.
Not great, I guess, but it'll have to do.
A bit better.
Aside from the fact that you should not be letting anyone anywhere near the throne, you automatically win by parking Merlinus's sneaky ass on the throne.
Dart, what is the bullshit?
Some things are best not done with the "Lead by example" motto.
Speed is really the only thing Vaida really needs (though resistance would nice, I suppose), so I'm alright with this.
This is the real danger with this mission. The squares highlighted are Denning's range, so you can very easily accidentally lure him right to you. And since the AI always goes for units that can't fight back, you can expect him to pretty much run around picking people off as he can.
One druid down.
After a turn of thinning out, here's what's left of the archers. The ones that were on their way up got distracted by Jaffar, and not a single one of them managed to actually hit the guy.
If you're heading for treasure, best do it quickly. Thieves spawn in on turns 3, 4, and 5, so it's very easy to lose treasure if you don't at least block the fucker in, if not beat him there entirely.
There's a sniper carting around a swordslayer. God only knows why, but Vaida is happy to relieve him of it.
A much more traditional Oswin level.
He's squishy, but this is one of the best Eliwoods I've raised in a very long time. Seriously, this is awesome.
Well fuck, Oswin just walked into Denning's range.
3 for 3 on speed and some more defense.
Look at Marcus being useful. Another Dragonshield for the overflowing stock.
Man, fuck druids. They don't even give good levels.
: "I await you on the Dread Isle."
And here comes Denning.
I didn't say he was going to be particularly effective, mind you. Also, this is on turn 4. This is how fast this chapter can go if you really want to be done with it. That's wasting a lot of experience, though.
Poor poison lance cavalier. You will not be missed.
Another precious Body Ring. That makes two in the stock.
Harken knocks out a thief in preparation for our grand plan.
See, the problem with Snipers is that they're not very good at dealing with things right next to them. Unfortunately, Denning jumped up onto the pillar, but that's not really a problem. He can't do shit anymore, and we're now free to wait around and kill everything as they come in. Since I know that's everyone's favorite part of the LP, let's abridge things slightly.
Denning making *ahem* wise decisions.
Wallace making poor ones.
Oswin correcting said decisions.
More druids with terrible priorities.
Cavalier, and Bows-D.
Oh hey, it's turn 10 now. Well let's finish this.
Two points away from capping speed.
Well look who finally showed up. You can't even come in formation? God, what is your problem people?
: Yes, I'm sure of it. They are his morphs
: It's true They're all eerily similar. That reminds me That man on Valor, Ephidel Black Fang's Sonia, too Are you saying that he made them all?
: It is an abomination. A crime against all that is natural. When Nergal began using morphs to carry out his plans, his power had grown beyond our ability to contain him. After humans, his next target became the essence of dragons. His next target had to be Arcadia. I concealed our paradise behind a curtain of sandstorms. I then hid in the underground ruins and waited for him. I did not hope to defeat him. Just to exchange blows and then draw him into the desert, which would be his end.
: But Nergal never showed up, did he?
: Correct. I've no idea how he managed it but He called those siblings through the Dragon's Gate. And now he plans to call a horde of dragons to this land.
: What do we have to do to stop him?
: Our last hope is the power of the legendary items. It would take too long for us to gather all of them. I will go to the Shrine of Seals and tell Bramimond everything. We must have his power, no matter the cost.
: That's a good idea. Even though we can't harm Nergal himself, we can certainly do some damage to his troops.
: If we don't answer Nergal's invitation soon He'll continue to send out troops after us. If that's going to happen, we might as well take the fight to him! I won't have Lycia ravaged by any more of his acts!
: You You truly are Roland's children. I am old I did not expect anything to surprise me again, and yet
: Lord Athos.
: It takes the strongest of bonds to alter the course of fate. Go Go, my youthful friends. Set your sights on the Dragon's Gate and keep moving.
: It's right here. I'm sorry. I simply couldn't bring myself to wield it.
: Let me have it for a while. Is that all right?
: Eliwood, I understand how you feel. But without this weapon, we won't be able to stop Nergal. You know that, don't you?
: Yes. When next I wield it, I won't hesitate.
: I know.