Part 5: Chapter 4
Settle down, Mist. It's too early for you to be yelling like that. Now, what's going on?
Soren's back! He just arrived.
Really? That's odd. He wasn't supposed to return for a while yet.
I know! I wonder what he's doing back so soon...
It's probably nothing to worry about. I'll go and talk to him. Where is he?
In the mess hall. I think he wanted to talk to Father.
Right. I'll go check there.
Hello, Ike. Long time, no see.
I'm happy to see you're back. But hat happened? I thought you were going to be studying for a while longer.
It's a long story...
Let's go. I'll fill you in later.
Well. It's starting to sound like the plot is beginning! Let's not keep it waiting.
Now, if you know anything at all about Fire Emblem, you've probably already guessed what's going on...
And he has some unbelievable news.
What news is that?
Wait for it...
That's why I've called everyone here. Soren has some more information. Go ahead, Soren.
Ah. It's a map of Crimea. Quite detailed, from the looks of it.
And this is a stray article.
"I know you all know where we live, but I just wanted to remind you how far I had to travel."
Everything started three days ago. I needed to do some research, so I went to the archives of Melior's royal library.
each clad in glistening ebon armor, black as night.
The Daein army?
Was there provocation?
As you know, relations between Crimea and Daein have never been... friendly. However, the past centuries have seen only minor skirmishes, nothing that has ever approached the scale of this attack. It was brutal and without warning. Daein laid the capital to waste. I've never seen destruction on this scale before.
A swift attack, devastating and brutal... A daring gambit, indeed.
But if it succeeds, a very well-chosen one at that.
Yes, the king of Daein would not hesitate to employ such treacherous tactics. What happened next?
King Crimea's brother deployed the Crimean army to meet the attack. The king ordered his people to flee the city before the battle reached them. Fearing the worst, I also fled and made my way here.
So we don't know how the tides of battle flow now, do we?
You did well to bring us this information, Soren. I know some risk was involved.
It was nothing.
That's the question of the day. How do you see it, Titania?
Crimea is the closest thing our company has to a homeland The Crimean royal family and noble houses have been generous, providing us with many lucrative jobs. From a moral standpoint as well as a business one, it's in our best interest to help Crimea.
And you, Soren?
I agree on one point: we are mercenaries. We are not Crimea's private militia. No coin has crossed our palms, so I think we should stay out of it.
So you would have us sit and watch as Crimea is overrun?
I would. Daein's troops are superior in both numbers and morale. The chances of a Crimean victory are slim indeed.
But Crimea is ruled by King Ramon, who is known throughout the land for his wisdom. And his brother, Duke Renning, is said to possess peerless valor and courage. Daein may not find victory so easily.
Valor and courage are for children's tales. In terms of military prowess, Daein's King Ashnard is every bit Lord Renning's equal. Victory will hinge on troop numbers and supplies, and Daein is superior in both. I think the outcome is painfully obvious.
With the Crimean army both demoralized and ill prepared? They simply will not be able to hold out that long.
All right. That's enough. Both of you.
We'll send a scouting party to get a closer look at Melior. Ike, I want you in charge of this. Assemble your men and get going.
Titania will accompany you as an advisor.
What do you expect a whelp like him to accomplish?
Ah, Shinon. Since you're so concerned, you can go as well.
Wait, that's not what I... Blast.
Who else... Gatrie Rhys, and Soren. That should do.
Father, wait... Why do you want me--
That was an order. Get moving. There's no time to waste.
Titania, I'm going out for a bit. I want you to give Ike some direction.
... Yes, sir.
So, yeah, just when you thought we might finally have a Fire Emblem plot that does not begin with a sudden invasion of one country by a neighbour with which it has previously been (sort of) peaceful, surprise!
Sadly, Ike is not royalty, and is presently running towards the conflict, so we're still one element removed from Full Fire Emblem Synchronization.
Here! This is for you.
A sword? Where did you get it?
From Father. He told me to come and give it to you.
This is the first sword you've gotten that wasn't a hand-me-down from somebody, isn't it? That's great!
Well, be careful! Oh, and bring me a souvenir! Something nice. I've never been to Melior before...
[Received the Regal Sword!]
Sweet! This is a more minor (but still very recurring) Fire Emblem Tradition; a weapon for the main character that's decently powerful (1 Mt shy of a Steel Sword), very light (1... Wt? lighter than an Iron Sword), has a crit bonus (10%) and is effective against armoured and mounted units. That last bit will make it invaluable for most of the first half of the game.
Are you feeling all right, Ike? You haven't said a word in quite some time.
I don't understand what my father's doing. Why put a new recruit like me in charge of something so important?
You're going to succeed him as our commander one day. Don't you think he wants you to know how to lead?
Me? I don't... I don't know if I'm capable. And even if I am, that day's a long way off, right? I mean, I'm inexperienced. Weak. I'm nothing compared to my father.
I'm not so sure about that. When I look at you, I see a young man full of promise. Commander Greil is a great man, but... I think you'll be every bit his equal. In time, you might even surpass him.
Don't be ridiculous!
It's just my opinion. You need not pay it any mind. Yet, if you fear your own weakness, why not take this chance to go out and better yourself? That would be more in keeping with your personality, no?
I suppose you're right.
If Rhys is dead, Titania will have literally this exact same conversation with Ike instead.
Same as here. There are corpses strewn everywhere. There are quite a lot of them, especially when you consider how far we are from the capital.
So Crimea has the upper hand?
Just the opposite, I think. The Crimean soldiers were members of the Imperial Guard. That means King Ramon--or another member of the royal family--was on the move when Daein soldiers fell on them.
Could it have been Lord Renning?
No. As long as the Crimean army still draws breath, Lord Renning will not leave their command. Perhaps another member of the court...
We're no one you need--
You're armed! Heed me! Drop your weapons and surrender! Act quickly, or else!
Listen to me, fool. You're making a mistake. We're not...
Ah, not going to cooperate, eh? Ready your weapons, men! Move in and kill them all! Tsk! Headstrong fools!
Getting caught up in some skirmish is not art of the plan...
But they're obviously not going to listen to us. Greil Mercenaries! Get ready to fight!
Oh, Fire Emblem. Never change.
The boss walks slooowly back to the opposite side of the field and we're left facing quite a worrying amount of soldiers.
Well? What are your orders, boy? We'll do what you say, so long as you hurry up and spit it out!
I know, I know! I'm thinking! Give me a moment, will you, Shinon?
Bah. Useless! We'd be better led with Mist than this soft, untested whelp.
If Shinon is dead or if you're not playing on Hard Mode, Ike will actually say what most players are almost certainly already thinking:
Let's see... We're in the middle of the road, and there's not much cover. Soren and Rhys are vulnerable, so we have to protect them from enemy attacks... Right?
That's a sound strategy, Ike. I can attack from behind your defences. Good thinking.
Do you mean that? Um... all right! Let's do that then.
Not much happens in the pre-fight menu except us somehow teleporting Boyd's Fighter Band onto Soren. Yes, Soren. Trust me on this one.
Soren is our first Mage, so he will, naturally, be attacking with magic and dealing with enemy Resistances instead of Defences. Since most non-magical enemies have low Resistance, this is pretty great. Of course, the flip side of this is that Soren, as a mage, is extremely squishy and starts at Lv 1. On top of that, he has no Strength. Having no Strength is more of a problem for Mages than having no Magic is for fighters; physical units don't cast spells (for the most part), but Mages still need to carry tomes. That Wind tome is light (1 Wt), but later tomes will not be so. Hence the Fighter Band; Soren's Magic and Resistance are fine on their own, and his Speed is adequate.
This is not a chapter where we have the luxury of not using Shinon and Titania. This doesn't mean we can't use them correctly, though.
(even if Shinon does sometimes accidentally crit people)
Also, remember the battle music "Like Father, Like Son" from the prologue? This track takes the melody from that and puts it in a track that doesn't sound like a fucking MIDI. Progress!
Now weakened, the Myrmidon is easy prey for Soren.
Most of the enemies here are Soldiers; reasonably well rounded lance users. Some of them are carrying Steel Lances. None of them are nearly strong enough to wield Steel Lances without having their AS reduced to zero. Result; lots of doubles for Gatrie.
Titania rides to this spot and unequips her axe. No need to set her loose just yet.
Titania's clever positioning means Soren is safe for the time being. Rhys comes over to join him in the not-murder-zone.
Ike hangs back to draw some of the enemies to him. Not all of them, though; Ike isn't quite strong enough to live through a horde of people attacking him.
Shinon with Provoke is a very effective distraction. Melee enemies love attacking Shinon as it is; the fact that he can't counterattack at melee range puts him almost at the top of the Goddamn Fire Emblem AI's hitlist. Provoke just seals the deal.
Also, he's quite good at dodging.
Titania's distraction op is an incredible success. She takes about 5 damage in the process.
Gatrie also gets to teach another Steel Lance masterclass.
Even the enemy archers go for Titania.
The Iron Lance users can't damage Gatrie, but conversely, he can't double them.
And all the enemies who can't get into attack range just charge.
Shinon and Soren do their thing again.
Titania stops fucking around and breaks out the weapons.
I've fucked up. Two Soldiers can attack Soren next turn. If both hit, he's toast. Fortunately, Shinon should be able to distract one of them.
In fact, he gets both. The second one runs a complete circle around Ike just to get to Shinon.
For all the good it does him.
While another Soldier gets crippled by Gatrie and the two already crippled by Gatrie run away to heal, another one goes for Titania. It goes about as well for him as you'd expect.
An enemy archer gets caught by Provoke. This one's funny, because Shinon can, of course, counter this one. Which he does.
We've survived another turn, but enemies are now unacceptably close to Soren. Shinon helps correct the problem by critting a guy.
Soren himself does his bit.
The mercenaries close ranks around Soren, and Rhys just keeps the fuck away from it all. I don't dare move Rhys forwards...
Someone finally attacks Ike. Ike reduces him to 1 HP and gains a level.
A meh-ish level, but Defence is Defence! This is a great chapter in which to be getting Defence.
Enemy archers now do just 1 HP damage to Ike.
There's also a guy who melees Shinon (miss) and more healing.
Our turn again, and another free kill for Soren.
Fuck Yes. Soren's first level gives him, among five other stats, a point of Strength.
While Shinon disposes of one archer, Ike breaks out his new toy against the second. The Steel Sword is too slow to double him, and the Iron Sword is too weak to kill him, but the Regal Sword works perfectly!
And that's the last of the invaders. Now we can push for the boss! Rhys uses this welcome opportunity to start throwing Heals around.
Gatrie goes ahead to draw the enemy out.
Oh how he succeeds.
A Soldier and a Myrmidon also attack him, to no effect.
The rest all crowd around, including the boss. Since the boss has a Javelin - a lance that can be thrown to attack at range - I don't want Soren anywhere near him until it's time for the kill.
Ike gets a heal from Rhys and joins the fray.
Gatrie continues hunting Steel Lance users.
Everyone else stays put. There's a Myrmidon that can damage Soren, but Soren will double him in response, so he's welcome.
He doesn't, though. He runs away to heal.
Is it me, or has Ike been just not killing people a lot lately?
There's a weak archer over here too. How amusing.
The boss comes over, too.
You are so terribly ignorant of your position in this world.
You refused to listen to us, and then you attacked without provocation! Is this the way of the Daein army?
You're a cheeky little monkey, aren't you? Once you're dead, you'll regret sassing me!
He deals a respectable though ultimately irrelevant amount of damage to Ike.
Time to end this. The battle ends when we kill the boss, so we give everyone one last shot at wringing some EXP out. Gatrie manages to take out the Myrmidon...
To his moderate profit.
Ike uses the Regal Sword to soften the boss up. "Effective" weapons will double their Mt (that's the weapon's Mt, not the Mt that represents total damage (Man that was a terrible wording decision)) when employed against the correct target. The Regal Sword has 7 Mt, so it gets 7 bonus damage - although 2 of that gets mitigated by the Weapon Triangle (yes, WT Advantages and Disadvantages apply double to effective weapons).
Titania gets a random kill in, too, before getting out of the way.
Soren gets a heal from Rhys and a shove from Shinon...
And goes to face the boss.
Maijin is quite aware of his low Resistance, you see.
You forced this combat. We cannot allow you to return home. Are you ready to die?
Soren dodges that Javelin like a boss.
Said Javelin passes to our possession.
Incidentally, Titania could've gotten some dialogue here:
I've fought the Crimean army before. The Imperial Guard has some skill, but the rest are a poor joke. Which will you prove to be? Hmm? Perhaps you'll offer me some entertainment after all.
If you attacked us because you thought we were with the Crimean army, you made a mistake. I left my post years ago. Now, I'm nothing more than a common mercenary.
That means nothing to me. You're not of Daein, you're armed, and you're here. It's our job to destroy you. Simple, wouldn't you say? Come, dog! Prepare yourself!
I'd just as soon avoid this bloodshed, but that seems unlikely. If that's the way it is, I'll not hold back!
Any wounded or dead? No? Excellent! Well done!
You will be shocked to learn that there is additional dialogue here if anyone died during this fight. There's a scene for Titania...
Titania, are you all right?
I got careless, Ike. I've let you down. I'm in no shape to fight, not after that battle, but I'll dedicate myself to serving as your advisor.
I'm sorry... This injury is... I cannot--
It's all right, Titania. I understand. You don't have to say anything more.
Don't look so glum, Ike. I'm... still alive. I was lucky.
One for Soren...
... Forgive me. I was nothing more than a hindrance.
Don't worry about it. Your health is more important. How bad is the wound?
That bad? Well then, from now on, I want you to be an intelligence officer.
What? Are you serious?
Are you so opposed to the idea?
Of course not! I thought... I... I assumed I would be... let go...
Don't be stupid. An intelligence officer assists with strategy and planning, right? There's no combat of any kind. There shouldn't be any problems. I'm sure the commander will approve of the idea.
... Th-thank you. I'll try to bring honor to the position.
And one for the others.
... Ike... I understand how you must be feeling, but... You can't blame yourself for what happened. We faced a well-trained opponent... There was no way we could have fought Daein and escaped without losses.
But these losses? [list of dead people]
Remember this feeling always. Use the pain to win next time. That is the best way to honor our fallen companions.
... I understand...
This swine's got some nice weapons. Besides, he ain't gonna complain. He won't need them where he's going.
"Stop trying to circumvent the game mechanics!"
What? You judgmental little--
No, as I said, this road...
A wounded soldier, perhaps? Let's go have a look. Careful, now.
... It's a woman...
Thank goodness... It looks like she's merely fainted.
Right. We'd better take her with us for now and make sure she's all right. Give me a hand, will you, Rhys?
We could've rushed the boss for the four-turn clear, but that would've left Soren and Rhys quite exposed, and also would've lost us out on a fair bit of combat EXP, so, yeah.
Lv 1 Mage
HP: 18 (45%) Spd: 8 (40%)
Str: 0 (5%) Lck: 5 (30%)
Mag: 6 (60%) Def: 2 (15%)
Skl: 8 (55%) Res: 7 (55%)
Move: 5 Con: 6 Wt: 6
Equip: Wind (D), Thunder (E), Fire (E)
Soren brings you precisely what you'd expect a Mage to bring you; plenty of magical capability but not much else. That's alright, though; he'll be able to nuke the shit out of anyone once his magic stat gets going. His growths aren't spectacular - in fact, they're pretty low - but he's got it where it counts. Most crucially, his speed is decent, although he can get screwed in that if you're unlucky. The only real problem with Soren is that he starts with 0 strength and has a 5% growth, which means that he'll be getting weighed down by tomes constantly. So watch out for that.
Incidentally, Path of Radiance dispenses with the Light/Dark/Anima magic schools from the GBA Fire Emblems (and the associated Weapon Triangle they had) and replaces that with Wind/Thunder/Fire... which is functionally identical. Light magic remains in the game, though, but it's neutral as far as any Triangles are concerned. However, all mages can use all kinds of magic (bar Light), so... make of that what you will.
Finally, Soren has the Adept skill innately. Adept gives you a [skill]% chance of attacking twice whenever you would ordinarily attack once. It's pretty awesome, except you can't really rely on it - especially now, when Soren has low speed. Something to remember, though.
Next Time: The final piece of the Standard Fire Emblem Plot falls into place...