Part 15: Chapter 10 - Mission
Here is a thunder tome with a tad extra Mt and 5% less accurate than a Wind Tome - but as light! That's a bargain, even at this price at this stage in the game.
Truly, it is beyond thunder tomes.
We have a new friend with us;
Volke is our team Thief! Thieves aren't really meant to see combat - hence why they wield knives, the weakest weapons in the game - although that doesn't mean they don't have a use for all these numbers. As you can imagine, the point of Thieves is to break, enter and dispossess. And they've undergone a few mechanical changes, for those fresh from the GBA games.
First off, Thieves no longer require lockpicks to pick locks. Well, I suppose they do, strictly speaking, but it's no longer an inventory item with limited uses. Now you can just walk up to a door or chest, and open it for nothing. Well, actually, I say "nothing", but Volke really wasn't kidding earlier; 50G will disappear from your coffers every time he opens a lock.
Second, stealing has been expanded a bit. You can now steal enemies' weapons, although only if they're unequipped, and only - this is the important bit - if the Thief's speed is higher than the enemy's, and his strength is higher than the weight of the item being stolen.
If you've been wondering what the fuck "Soldier" and "Citizen" refer to on this screen... well, I can tell you what they refer to, although I don't think anyone really knows why they chose these words for these purposes. "Citizen" skills are the equippable and removable skills we've been seeing all over the place already. "Soldier" skills are innate to certain classes and can't be tinkered with. There are only, like, three of them, and none of them are really that interesting beyond the fact that they bothered to represent this information via skills in the first place (eg: why not just have a weapon type for Knives?).
ANYWAY, Volke has Shade.
There has been a slight change to the battleplan. Stealth won the vote, but while the original plan was a small team of six that included our entire cavalry (Oscar, Titania and Marcia) as haulers, Ike and Volke as essentials, and Mia, this plan was kinda killed along with Mia by the boss of this map, who turned out to be surprisingly competent. So now we're taking the somewhat nuclear option, and are now also bringing along not only Soren, but Lethe and Mordecai, for no other reason than a show of open contempt.
The map is an "Escape" map - we don't, strictly speaking, have to bust anyone out, and we could just move straight to the exit. But that wouldn't be terribly fulfilling, would it? What we want is to get our full compliment of recruitables, all the goodies, kill the boss, and then escape, all without being spotteed.
So, given that we've already seen "plain old" Fog of War (at which the AI blatantly cheats), how do you do stealth in Fire Emblem?
As it turns out, arbitrarily.
There are six enemies on the map. Three of them are the boss and his two minions, who exist in a strange little bubble of silence that doesn't seem to affect anything and whom we can attack freely once we reach them. The other three are Soldiers who move in set paths around the map. If an Enemy Phase starts and any of our guys are within these guys' attack range, we are detected, the map is flooded with reinforcements, and the Stealth Mission is over. That's it. Simple, right?
Wrong. IntSys have really thought this one through, and IntSys hate you. After about twenty-five turns I'll get around to explaining the catch.
For now, Oscar picks up Soren, Marcia picks up Volke, Titania picks up Ike, and Lethe picks up Mia, and everyone edges towards the... uh... edge of the danger zone.
By the way, the prisoners are all on the Other Team, and they get turns. This occurs now.
There's one in a cell here by himself. Then there're two more in another cell...
Those Daein soldiers took my friends away, and they didn't never come back. What did they do to them?! Oh, something bad happened! I just know it!
Quiet, fool! Keep your cowardly mutterings to yourself. It matters not what vile torture they devise. A true knight of Crimea is bold, steadfast, and strong.
I can't believe I left my family behind for this... Will I ever see them again? Oh, I want to go home.
Curses... If only I had a weapon of some sort.
Onwards, we stealth.
You may noticed that we're passing the first cell by. That's because the extent of what I am prepared to put up with does not include stopping for conversations that aren't necessary to unlock stuff. I'll come back to this (what's going to feel like) much later. If, hypothetically speaking, we were to bust open his door and get Ike to talk to him, we might see this:
You there! We've come to rescue you.
You're not a soldier, are you? Your clothing gives you away.
I am... a pilgrim. My name is Sephiran.
You're a monk? Why would they imprison you?
I was arrested in a nearby village, where I was tending to wounded Crimean knights. I received no trial but have nevertheless been kept prisoner in this place ever since.
I see... That explains it. We've come here to liberate the prisoners of war. You should take this opportunity to escape.
You will set me free? That is most gracious of you. If you've no objection, I would ask your name.
I am Ike of the Greil Mercenaries. Please, the cell door is open. You should leave while you can.
Thank you. Perhaps we will meet again, Ike.
Yep. Perfectly unsuspicious.
Yep, there is certainly nothing at all to suggest that this guy is anything other than what he claims to be.
Not. One. Thing.
While it's apparent that the guy can take care of himself, what's not apparent is that once you open his cell door, the Soldiers can technically enter his cell, so when one passes by, their attack range extends inside, and on their next turn, they'll detect Sephiran and sound the alarm.
This mission. This fucking mission.
Fortunately, we're ignoring him, so let's continue on.
Another turn passes.
This opening presents itself one turn out of every four, but it's only possible to initiate the sequence of events that leads to being able to take advantage of this opening one turn out of every twelve. Don't worry, there's only 20 more turns until the point where I explain the dick move.
Anyway, what we do is drop Volke outside the door.
Of course, there's a problem. Because the space outside the door is only not covered by the enemy's range for one turn at a time, it is categorically impossible to open the door without leaving yourself detectable. This is why we bought Marcia and co.
Volke is picked up and safely deposited in Brom and the other guy's cell.
Titania and Ike follow suit.
Everyone else continues sneaking.
Ike gets to chatting with Brom. If you're eagle eyed, you'll spot the next layer of bullshit in this screenshot.
I'm a mercenary in the employ of Princess Elincia. I'll give you all the details later. For now, we have to move!
What? The princess? Oh, happy day! Wait, let me stretch a bit... Ooo... Sorry, I'm stiff from this hard floor... Ow! Ow ow ow! Cramp! Cramp!
Oh, for the love of--Come on! This way!
All, all right! Hold on a second... I don't remember the king having any children...
There's no time to explain! Hurry up!
Oh! Uh, c-c-coming!
Talking to Brom converts him from Other to Partner. This is extremely fortunate.
As soon as we move Titania (which we must), the nearby Soldier's range will extend to Brom's square, and the enemy will notice him, yada yada yada. What I don't know (and really wasn't in the mood to find out) is what the Partner AI will try to do by default - but I have a suspicion it will charge the enemy. In any case, as soon as you're done talking to Brom, it is imperative that you immediately select Direct...
Switch the Partner AI to Target...
And tell the dumb motherfucker to stand in a corner. Thank god that Partners move before Enemies (Others move after enemies).
Oh, yeah, right, more bullshit. The patrols are set up so that the blind spots are tiny, so it becomes impossible for Lethe to fit through and she has to duck out.
Titania and Marcia pick up their passengers again and hang here for a while. We've got about fifteen more turns before I really get angry enough to rant about why that's necessary.
Note that we're not talking to the other prisoner - it's not necessary. If we were so inclined, however, we could do so using Oscar:
You're from Crimea, right? Come on--we're here to rescue you. We've opened your cell. Now's the time to escape.
Ah! It's you!
I could never forget that squint! Knights of Crimea, twelfth regiment... your name is Oscar!
And you're... Wait a moment... You're Kieran, right?
That is correct! I am Kieran... The same Kieran who has sworn himself to be your eternal rival!
Uh... Right... Kieran... So... how've you been? You look good.
As always, your manner is listless and inappropriate. It befits one who would call me foe! You were discharged three years ago... What are you doing here now? Aha! Could it be... You dastard! You've turned your coat and gone over to Daein, haven't you? Rarrrrr! What despicable, contemptible behavior! Unforgivable! Have you no shame? You were my one true rival! Where has your pride gone?
The mercenary company I'm attached to serves under the command of the princess of Crimea! We came here to free any Crimean prisoners.
The princess of Crimea?!? You're not part of the royal guard! How do you know about the princess?
Well, like I said, the princess is our employer and--
Aha! So that's your scheme, is it? You hope to distinguish yourself by meritorious service and gain the glory that is rightfully mine! Admit it!
Look, my duty is...
Blast you! Curse your name! Curse the name of Oscar and all who call him kin! I will never let you surpass me! Princess! I'm coming! Kieran will be forever at your side!
Whoa... He's even more excitable than I remember. Hard to believe he's actually a decent knight...
...but we don't.
In the meantime, sneaking.
Another turn later, and Oscar, Soren and Mordecai pull up outside the boss's room.
Mordecai is every bit as much of a tank as his rather imposing frame would suggest.
And here's the boss.
This guy is a complete asshole.
Remember, Mordecai = tank, and yet look. This guy has more Atk than should be legal for bosses at this stage.
He's also rather good at taking hits, with his 17 fucking Defence.
We've got his number though. A single hit from Mordecai, followed by...
Soren breaking in our wonderful new tome. Can you believe I was hesitant to add that extra point of Mt?
Now then, are you ready to become my prisoners and live a life of eternal bliss within my lovely dungeon?
You'll not escape... I will see all of you... dead... You will be exe... cu... ted...
He also has dialogue with Lethe:
A sub-human? Aha ha ha ha! This is fantastic! I've never had a sub-human prisoner before! Come here, and behave yourself. I'll build a special cell just for you... Perhaps I'll stuff and mount you, too!
Oh, yes... Excellent. What a defiant stare you have. You're exactly the type of prisoner I long for. I will watch as hope fades from your eyes and revel as despair clouds your vision. It will be transcendent.
... Don't count onit.
What an asshole.
Also, the game is an asshole.
Master Seals will allow you to instantly promote a unit who's Lv 10 or above. It's a tradeoff - you get the increased power immediately, but you lose out on any levels between 10 and 20 that might otherwise have been forthcoming. Alternatively, you can sell them for 5000G apiece. Decisions!
Oscar takes out one of Danomill's archer buddies, who drops a Chest Key.
Back to sneaking.
Next turn, Oscar takes out the other archer.
Game's still an asshole.
On we go.
We put that Chest Key to work, and get this. Now any (one) unit can learn Titania's Counter skill.
And more. (Oscar opens a second chest and finds a Javelin)
And more. Note that once again Lethe is forced to back out due to lack of space.
It goes on. Yes, we are required to go round in a circle like this.
Do you see why I don't like this mission?
It's just turn after turn after turn...
I manage to find a spot for Lethe but she's running out of TP and probably won't be able to keep up next turn.
Actually, she couldn't even get that far without being locked out.
Finally, Marcia and Titania reach the top end.
Volke earns another 50G, and we do the Rescue dance again.
Specifically, we have to rescue Nephenee (from the range of the soon to be passing soldier) while Oscar picks up Volke.
Meanwhile, Lethe is about to have another go at sneaking up.
We get Volke to the boss room to open the next two chests.
One contains a Short Axe.
The other contains a Steel Lance.
We deposit Nephenee in the boss room and Ike talks to her.
I'm Ike. I'm with a mercenary company hired by Princess Crimea. I can fill you in on the details later. For the time being, you'll just have to trust me.
... Very well.
Then, in order to save her from the AI presently directing Brom to stay out of the way, we have Marcia pick her up.
Come on, Lethe...
Oscar, Soren and Mordecai all escape. They're done here.
Titania grabs Volke and heads in the direction of the last chest.
FUCK THIS MISSION.
Let me explain.
See the top guard? He's moving in a circle around the cell up there. He stops at each corner. That's a four stop cycle.
See the guard at the right of the screenshot? He walks back and forth along his little corridor. He stops at each end and at the middle of his route. Four stops total.
But this motherfucker? He walks in a circle around the two pillars. He stops in each corner and in the middle of the top and bottom.
Do you see? Do you see the dick move?
If you follow one guard at a time, you'll see either a four step or a six step cycle. However, because the two fall out of sync with eachother, it actually takes twelve turns for the cycle to fully repeat. It also happens to be a bit tricky to tell whether you're in the first or the last half of this cycle, and - of course - only one of these halves is the correct time to start moving through the guarded area. What's worse is that once it becomes apparent you're in the wrong place, you inevitably duck back to the safety of the starting alcove and wait for the next opening - which is impeccably timed such that it is the wrong opening. Again.
Whatever. We've reached the last door.
The last chest contains a Statue Frag, which boosts a unit's Build (Constitution) by 2. In the GBA Fire Emblems, this was a pretty big deal, because it affected the unit's ability to wield heavy weapons without taking a speed penalty; effectively granting 2 more AS and 4 more Avoid. In Path of Radiance, however, Build serves absolutely no purpose other than differing from weight by a value determined by the unit's class. This makes Statue Frags, essentially, vendor trash.
Have I Done It Right this time?
Sure looks like it!
Praise the goddamn lord.
We file everyone methodically onto the Escape tile.
Marcia leaves last, taking Ike with her.
Fuck. This. Mission.
Would you like to know something amusing?
No, it can wait a bit longer.
Ahem... I'm sure you are unaware of this, but I am..
Oh... yes. Quite right.
I am Kieran! I served under General Geoffrey, as leader of Crimea's fifth platoon. My platoon had the honor of escorting you from the palace during Daein's attack!
Really? You were there when...
I was! Lord Renning ordered my platoon to accompany General Geoffrey and serve as your escort.
Good job on that, by the way.
But we failed you... And when you were lost to us... I believed my worthless life was at its end... Yet here you are! To think that I would be so blessed as to see you again... Such emotion... I... The tears... sniff...
Kieran, were there any others?
Such terrific emotion... So--I beg your pardon?
Did anyone other than yourself survive?
Of course! Though I was the only one unfortunate enough to suffer the misery of captivity. General Geoffrey and several of his soldiers fought off the Daein attack. They were able to slip away. Even now, they wait in Crimea, hoping for one last chance to strike a blow against Daein.
Thank you, Kieran. Thank you... for surviving.
You are too kind, Your Highness. The opportunity to serve you again is the greatest reward I could ask for. For as long as I draw breath, I will stand ready at your side! This, I swear.
How about you two? Will you recognize Princess Elincia as the rightful heir to the Crimean throne? Will you fight for her?
Now, we don't know much about nobles and stuff. Kings and queens don't matter much when you're workin' the fields. 'Course, we know we'll be in trouble if someone takes our fields away from us, so that's why we joined the militia! This king of Daein's no friend of ours. And I hear he's doing terrible things, too... Vile tortures with rusty nails and... and more! What's going to happen to my family? I left them all back home, and I'm so worried I can hardly see straight.
If you can defeat the king of Daein, will this country return to the way it used to be? Is that what you're after?
It is my hope. I may not be as powerful as my father, but I will never abandon Crimea.
You sound like a lady who stands by her word. Looks like my choice is easy!
I'll fight in your name. I'll help you and yours, and we'll send those Daein egg suckers packing!
I beg your pardon...
Oh, right, I was going to tell you something amusing! Well, here you go. As you can plainly see, Sephiran has managed to extricate himself from his cell entirely without any help from us. And yet, Brom and Nephenee need to be specifically bailed out in order to survive (if you save Brom, you also save Kieran). Which means, whether or not they join is determined entirely arbitrarily by whether or not you talked to them during the course of the battle. It doesn't matter if you slaughter every guard in that place; even though Sephiran gets himself out, only Ike can get Kieran, Brom and Nephenee out.
Master Sephiran! You live!
Brom, Nephenee... Are either of you wounded?
We're fine, but what about you? You were jailed for helping us... I'm so sorry! Oh, I hope they didn't hurt you!
It is nothing to fret about. Everyone is safe, and that is what matters.
O blessed one...
...Who are you?
I am a monk on pilgrimage. My name is Sephiran. Thanks to your efforts, I have been freed from my imprisonment.
A monk? Why did the Daein army arrest you?
I was arrested in a nearby village where I was treating wounded Crimean knights. I received no trial but taken prisoner nevertheless. I was scheduled to be executed on the morrow. I owe you my life. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
You don't have to thank us. However, I am curious about your situation. Why were you aiding Crimean soldiers?
Do you question my story?
You're a monk on pilgrimage as well as an ally of Crimean resistance fighters? Under the circumstances, do you blame me?
Tell me something, Ike. If you came across a wounded person, could you ignore his plight?
Normally... No, I could not. But in times like these, where it means risking my own life... I don't know. It's tough to say.
If faced with an individual in pain, you would act instinctively. Your body would not wait for the command.
Who... Who are you? Really. You're so calm, so full of peace. I can't believe you're a simple monk.
If you'll forgive me, I must be going. Fare thee well, young warrior. I am certain that we will meet again.
Well. That was something.
Oh, hello, Volke. What do you want?
I was thinking about traveling with you for a bit. I'll be in the general area, so if you need anything, you can call me. I'll help you out... for a fee, of course.
Why would you do such a thing? In times such as these, there must be many parties that need... intelligence.
Well, you've sparked my curiosity. And besides... No, we'll just have to leave it at that.
That's not acceptable.
Don't be so inflexible. It's not as if I'll be joining your merry band or anything. This is strictly business.
And yet you--
We will almost certainly have need of this man's talents. He is a dubious character at best, but at least we know his motives. Everything begins and ends with gold. He'll be easy to control.
Soren, he's standing right there.
I don't think he minds.
Do you even have to ask?
Very well. You may do as you like.
Excellent. Call me if you need anything.
Ranulf! Have you finished your errands?
All done! But about those two--
Yes, they're both rather mysterious.
Well, the monk seems like a decent enough fellow.
Determining who is a friend and who is a foe is something I must be able to do. But it's just so hard.
That's only because you don't have enough information to base your judgment on. All we can do now is press on.
Well, Mist and Rolf are going to be grateful.
At least someone's going to be grateful.
Lv 2 Beast Tribe (Tiger)
HP: 41 (150%) Spd: 8 (50%)
Str: 15 (65%) Lck: 10 (40%)
Mag: 2 (0%) Def: 13 (40%)
Skl: 8 (55%) Res: 4 (20%)
Move: 7 Con: 18 Wt: 22
Initial TP: 0
Transformation Bonus: Str +7, Skl +4, Spd +3, Def +3, Res +3, Move +2, Wt +15
Equip: Claw (9 Mt, 90 Hit)
Couple of things. First, that HP Growth! 150% means Mordecai will always gain +1 HP at level up, and 50% of the time, he'll gain +2! So that's awesome. Second, the additional data for laguz - it should be fairly self explanatory. Initial TP is the starting value for the Transformation Meter, and Transformation Bonus is the stat increases when transformed.
Offsetting his low Speed base is a fairly reasonable growth, and the rest of Mordecai is pretty solid. He's a little overpowered for the time being, but he might find his place yet - bear in mind he's technically a prepromote. He's also got the necessary Wt to put that Smite skill to use - he's actually heavy enough to Shove mounted units!
Lv 3 Beast Tribe (Cat)
HP: 34 (130%) Spd: 12 (70%)
Str: 12 (50%) Lck: 15 (50%)
Mag: 4 (5%) Def: 9 (40%)
Skl: 10 (65%) Res: 7 (25%)
Move: 7 Con: 6 Wt: 21
Initial TP: 16
Transformation Bonus: Str +6, Skl +4, Spd +3, Def +5, Res +3, Move +2, Wt +15
Equip: Claw (8 Mt, 90 Hit)
The immediately striking thing about Lethe is that... well, she can strike immediately, seeing as how she starts each battle transformed. Once she gets to battle, you'll find her quite speedy while still decently strong. Think of her as a Myrmidon to Mordecai's Fighter. Only she can turn into a cat.
Lv 10 Thief
HP: 25 (65%) Spd: 13 (65%)
Str: 12 (50%) Lck: 7 (35%)
Mag: 0 (5%) Def: 7 (20%)
Skl: 13 (55%) Res: 3 (10%)
Move: 7 Con: 11 Wt: 11
Volke isn't really supposed to see combat, although if he does, you'll find him dodging a quite satisfactory proportion of attacks, and with that quite respectable base Strength and growth, he may yet dish out some damage in return. He is hamstrung in that department, however, by only being able to use knives, which all, pretty much without exception, suck. You won't be using him for his combat skills, though; you'll be using him to pilfer shit and also to pick locks, and he'll be helping himself to your gold as he does so.
Next Time: The Obligatory Port Level!