Part 7: Chapter 6
I always thought it'd be neat if Fire Emblem games shipped with physical maps, like those ones you get with Elder Scrolls games.
And here it is; the Map of the World. Or, at least, what passes for "the world" these days... look, it's a long story, OK?
The continent of Tellius, blessed by the goddess. To the northwest lies the land of Crimea, home of the Greil Mercenaries.
Without warning, Crimea's eastern neighbor, the kingdom of Daein, launches an attack on Crimea's capital city of Melior.
Ike leads a handful of mercenaries to Melior, to confirm Soren's news of the attack. En route, they happen upon a young woman, unconscious but unharmed. Fearing for her safety, they take her to their stronghold.
She relates the sad tale of her flight from Crimea and of her parents' murder at the hands of Ashnard, king of Daein. The Greil Mercenaries answer Princess Elincia's plea for help and agree to escort her to the kingdom of Gallia.
Located to the southwest of Crimea, Gallia is home to the laguz, a race quite unlike Ike and his fellow beorc.
In recent years, the two kingdoms have done much to ease the prejudice between the laguz and beorc factions. Their combined efforts have forged a bond of trust and friendship that may yet overcome years of intolerance.
Ike and company escape the Daein army, abandoning their longtime base. From there, they begin the long march toward Gallia. Their task clear and their destination far, they slip into an ocean of trees.
I wonder if the average person could be blamed for never having heard of the word "blamed" being used as a curse?
Titania has her priorities sorted.
Hm, I suppose I will.
Right. So enough of your griping. You're merely wasting energy. Still, this heat is appalling.
What, you mean to tell me you've never seen a beast-man before?
Well, I have. They're a hairy bunch, I'll tell you. And ugly as sin, too. Their faces are all fangs and whisker. Their claws are like daggers, razor sharp and deadly. And even though they can speak our language, they're beasts through and through. Savages, every one.
Are there more than one type?
First, the beast tribe, next, the bird tribe, and finally, the dragon tribe. They are traditionally called "laguz." The laguz tribe residing here in Gallia is the beast tribe, who possess those feline qualities of which Shinon spoke.
To the south are the islands where the bird-men live. The dragons are in Goldoa. It's something every mercenary should know. Looks like you know even less than I gave you credit for, Ike, my boy.
...A little farther, and we'll be out of these trees, Ike.
Really? That means Gallia proper! Compared to this forest, even a kingdom of half-breeds will seem like heaven.
It's a minor example, but this little scene contains an example of a nice little narrative trick. If you absolutely have to tell rather than show, which is sadly often the case in games like Fire Emblem, there are still interesting ways to tell, and about the most interesting way there is is to lie. Shinon isn't outright lying to us here, but no player will be inclined to take him completely at his word, and so will have just the tiniest shred of curiosity as to what the laguz are actually like. It's a thing.
Here's a less "amusing" and more "laughable" fact: if either Shinon or Gatrie are dead, then this scene (minus Shinon being a prejudiced asshole) will be played out with Titania and Mist - right down to the armour complaints.
Understood. You may step down.
Ena! It appears your advice was sound. Well done. You have earned my praise.
When the king assigned me a tactician, I wondered what I had done to lose his trust. When I saw it was a young girl, I burned with anger at the king's judgment. Still, it's worked out better than I had expected. Keep up the good work.
Now then, it's time for the hunt to begin.
I don't suppose our Daein pursuers were willing to let us just slip away.
There is no doubt that they will attack again. Without knowing their numbers, it is difficult to advise a course of action.
Take your best guess, Soren. With the limited information we have, what is the best way to proceed?
... Some of our group cannot fight. If we are caught, we'll have a difficult time defending them and attacking the Daeins. I propose we separate into two groups: a small fighting force to engage the enemy and buy the main group some time, and the rest of us--who will escort the princess to Gallia at full speed.
You want to divide our combat strength? The main force aside, don't you think the risk to the smaller group is too high?
I believe this is the only way to achieve our goal and keep casualties to a minimum.It's possible there's an ambush waiting for us at the edge of the forest. If we proceed with no plan, we may be caught between the pursuit and the ambush, which would be the end of us all.
Looks like we've no choice but to give it a go.
The rest of you guard Princess Elincia and proceed to Gallia straightaway. Got it?
Are you sure you're taking enough men?
Idiot pup. Smaller numbers mean better mobility. Your time would be better spent worrying about yourself than about us.
Listen up! This will probably prove to be the biggest fight this company's faced. Remember--you've got only one life. I don't want any of you dying on me. In times like these, it matters not what our blood ties are. We are family. If you don't want to cause your family any grief, then live! Ike will be commanding the main force. Titania, you're his support. All right, let's move out! See you all in Gallia!
If both Shinon and Gatrie are dead, we find out that Ike has a disturbing lack of faith:
All right, let's split up. I'll handle the diversionary duties myself. The rest of you guard Princess Elincia and proceed to Gallia straightaway. Got it?
Father! That's impossible! No matter how good...
There are... more of them than I'd imagined there would be. I thought they would have been spread out across the forest border... I didn't expect to see so many in one place.
Do we rethink our strategy?
No, we've already split up. It's too late to reconsider now.
Isn't there some way we can at least get the princess, Mist, and Rolf to the far shore safely?
There are two bridges... This thicket extends to the edge of the westernmost bridge. If we can use the trees as cover, we might be able to reach the bridge undetected. From there,we can launch a surprise attack.
We'll be creating a diversion, right?
Correct. While we keep the enemy's attention, the princess and the others can cross the bridge to safety.
We've no time for discussion. That's the plan we go with.
What Soren means to say is, of course, that we will murder everyone present so that there's no one to stop the Princess from crossing.
... No, you won't.
I cannot let you expose yourself to danger of any kind. Everyone here is risking his life to ensure your safety. If you understand that, you'll cooperate and do as I ask.
I see... I will do my part.
It's settled then.
Right! Let's break through their lines!
Right! Be careful, everyone!
Leave it to us, Ike! We'll just pretend it's a game of hide-and-seek. And I never lose at hide-and-seek!
Everyone ready? Let's go!
So. Do you like plot/mechanical dissonance?
The objective here is to "Escape". Not really what I would have gone for, since we're supposed to be creating a diversion so that Mist, Rolf and Elincia can slip through - that reads more like "survive for X turns". Or possibly a mission where you have to bait all the enemies into guarding one of the bridges while Elincia & co cross the other, but that's more than this engine seems to be able to handle. Or maybe just have the three of them on the map as NPCs we need to defend (by which we mean order them to hide in the trees and just kill all the enemies and THEN escape).
But whatever. "Escape" maps are won by moving Ike onto the square underneath the boss and selecting "Escape" from the menu. You may observe that this is basically the same as Seize, and you'd be right, except that you can earn a sliver of additional Bonus EXP for every unit that escapes before Ike does. That seems pretty arbitrary, since this isn't fucking FE5 where units left behind are lost forever (!), so... yeah, let's stop picking the mechanics apart and commence picking the enemies apart.
This cavalier here has a Poleax, a special axe that does bonus damage to cavaliers. So let's keep Oscar the fuck away from him, shall we?
Also, sod Soren's strategy, we're going right. Note that until we emerge from the trees, the enemy won't actually do anything at all.
We emerge now. There didn't seem to be any tidy option other than feeding this guy to Titania.
Boyd is still just barely making himself useful.
Ike, moreso. He's so useful he dodges the counterattack and picks up B-rank in Swords!
Oscar pokes one of the other guards with a Javelin but otherwise that's it for this turn.
They've noticed us!
An enemy Myrmidon from the left and a mage from the right bridge move in, and the already present guards attack Ike.
One is left on 2 HP, the other is critted and killed.
Poleax guy seems to have gotten himself up here, too.
So, I heard you like effective damage?
Annoyingly, he hits Ike in the midst of his being murdered.
No objections here. We also pick up the Poleax.
Although units can carry up to eight items, only four of those can be weapons, so Ike throws away a nearly broken Iron Sword to make room.
Another day, another enemy using a weapon that's far too heavy for them. He'll live, and on the enemy turn he'll either run away or attack Soren (and die).
A freebie for Boyd.
Don't make me regret this.
Bleh. It's nice to see his strength ticking up (he can finally carry an Iron Axe without a speed penalty), but this is not helping his chances of not being benched.
The enemy mage represents a new kind of hazard; most of our defence-oriented units (IE, Oscar) have crap resistance, so despite their low Atk they're still somewhat of a threat, and they're quite fast due to Wind being very light.
So Titania gets him instead, and Oscar gets a heal from Rhys.
So far, so good.
The enemy Myrmidon runs away, and an Archer comes up to take his place. On the right side, the other Cavalier nears us, but no one gets in attack range.
The one guy still in our Problem Zone is this cavalier. Ike gets to work on correcting this issue.
Oscar contributes a poke, too.
And Boyd finishes the job.
Soren is not quite at the "charge headlong into foes" capability level yet, so we'll have him hang back for now. The Archer will doubtless pursue him obligingly.
Let's draw some of these other guys up here.
On the Enemy Phase, that one Myrmidon finally gets into range of a Priest, who duly heals him.
Success! (he misses)
A buddy joins him. And I told you that Archer would follow!
This is how completely the Hammer ruins your AS. So, yeah, we don't actually do this attack.
Instead, it's Ike. And he dodges the counter too. That's great.
Oscar gets a heal from Rhys, goes to poke the Soldier who's hiding behind the Knight, and helps us form a wall with Ike.
The Knight goes down to Soren.
C'mon, Archer. Go attack Soren. You know you want to.
Hostilities are exchanged, but one of us has a Priest on standby and a turn coming up.
They keep trying to kill Ike and it keeps not ending well for them.
Our turn, and Soren ends the Archer and...
...eh. Extra Magic is nice, I guess.
Oscar rides ahead and begins pestering an enemy Priest with a Javelin.
We want to draw some of these other enemies closer.
Ike helps with this, while Boyd finishes the injured soldier.
For reasons known only to the AI, the enemy Mage goes not for Oscar, whose resistance is like zero, but for Ike, whose resistance is 6 (the Mage's Atk is 9).
This Myrmidon is a bit more successful in hurting Ike, but Ike is infinitely more successful in murdering him back, so it's arguable as to the actual value of this success.
We'd better clear out all the enemies we've drawn over. Oscar gets us started.
Well, so much for the God-Rhys theory.
Soren is, believe it or not, not really the best anti-mage choice right now. Enemy mages have not insignificant quantities of Resistance, so they can mitigate a good deal of Soren's damage output. Nevertheless, everyone else is needed for other enemies right now, so Soren it is. At the very least, Soren can completely shrug off the counterattack damage.
Boyd comes over to f-
-uck everything up, fucking FUCK and now he gets hit for 9 damage on top of everything else. Fucking hell, Boyd.
Well, now we're in a bit of a quandry. We've got an enemy Mage, Soldier, Archer and Myrmidon down here (as well as a Priest) and we've got to keep Soren and now Boyd safe, but we can only kill two of them - and Ike can't kill the Soldier, nor can Titania reach him. The safest bet seems to be having Ike kill the Myrmidon and Titania the Archer - leaving the Soldier and the Mage. We can't stop the Soldier from attacking Soren, but the Mage won't be able to compound the damage. Alternatively, I did the numbers and if both of them attack Boyd he'll pull through with 1 HP.
The commander suddenly notices that most of his soldiers are dead.
This prompts all the remaining enemies to converge on our position. We'll deal with them later. Right now, we've got more pressing problems.
All our hypothesizing and safe bet-taking turns out to have been for nothing, as both the Soldier and the Mage go for Ike, dealing only minor irritations of damage.
We duly clean up and prepare to weather the last push before we make for the exit. Notice the enemy Priest just standing there - it doesn't seem to be occurring to him to run away.
Nothing much comes of the push except Ike taking some damage. That's fine. There weren't really that many enemies in range, anyway.
Alright, Boyd. Here's a defenceless priest. Can you at least get this right?
Soren removes the intruding Soldier...
While Oscar and Ike move forward to poke the enemy Knight and also form a wall with Titania to keep the newly positioned Rhys out of the Archer's range.
Ike continues doing just fine for himself, thanks.
Once again, Ike gets attacked by both enemies.
As long as Soren's speed keeps going up like this, he'll be fine no matter how little his Strength goes up. Not that I'd mind another point; soon we're going to want to move him on to Fire tomes.
Until a viable replacement comes along, we've got little choice but to continue taking chances on Boyd. One of these days, he might even get a good level out of it all. Not that one good level will save him at this point, but he can at least accomplish something in the meantime.
Good work, B-
-nevermind. Speed's a welcome relief, though.
Time to clear the way forward. Oscar gets the poking started (he'll retreat after this attack).
That's a bit better.
Ike finishes the job. Only the boss and one generic Soldier remain. Both have ranged weapons, but neither will move, so only the boss will attack Ike.
A better view of the start of the last meaningful enemy phase.
Then I've no choice but to cut you down and walk over you!
Emil's Short Spear is a souped up throwing lance, with 3 Mt and 10 Hit worth of advantage over the Javelin. Emil himself is a Halberdier; a promoted Soldier, in other words. A little mechanical harmony to balance out the dissonance of the mission in general, then. He hits appropriately hard, in any case.
It also means he can counterattack Soren when Soren follows up on Ike's countercharge. That's annoying.
A day will come when I give up on Boyd, but it is not this day.
A little bit of faith pays off. By which I mean, Emil drops his Short Spear.
I'm bored of this mission, so Titania deals with the last Soldier.
Then, we file everyone who still hasn't taken their turn this phase onto the exit tile, and have them Escape.
Finally, all that's left is a pile of corpses and a slightly shellshocked Priest.
I don't know how, but we made it...
Mist! Princess, Rolf... Are you all well?
Is this Gallia? We made it, didn't we? We're safe now, right? I thought I would feel different, but I don't.
This is all due to your efforts. Thank you...
... Princess Elincia, I'm afraid we're going to have to part ways here.
But what do you mean?
We're going back to aid our companions. So I want you to continue with Mist to the royal palace of Gallia.
What? No, Ike! I'm going to stay with you!
Listen to me, Mist! We must do it this way so that everyone gets out of here alive!
Father and I will catch up to you right away! Don't worry. Have Father or I ever broken a promise to you?
Well... no. All right, then. We'll go ahead.
Thank you, Mist. We'll see you soon.
All right. Titania... Please take care of my brother. Promise?
You have my word on it.
Father... Shinon... Gatrie...
Knock it off, both of you! You're like a couple of old women. We're gonna be fine. Nothing bad's gonna happen while I'm around!
Take this with you, please.
This is a mend staff, isn't it? Er, are you sure this is all right?
Every one of you is putting yourself in harm's way on my account.
Nice! Mend staves are souped up Heal staves. Heal staves heal [10 + Magic] HP to a target; Mend staves heal [20 + Magic]. As our stats stand now, that's a full heal. Not too shabby.
Thank you very much! This will help greatly. I will use it to aid the others in your name.
... Thank you. Please... be careful.
If you'll excuse me.
O benevolent Ashera... Grant them all your blessings...
Good luck. Watch your step, and be careful.
We'll see all of you again... I'm sure of it! I know you will all be safe.
Let's get moving! Where to, Soren?
Excuse me for taking my time in methodically murdering everyone. At least we got the Escape bonus, though.