Part 25: Chapter 15 - Preamble
Nealuchi, you're looking well.
And feeling well, too, thank you very much. This old crow's as spry as ever. Hee hee!... Tell me though. How fares your father, King Lorazieh?
The same as ever. Since that terrible day, he remains abed... He seldom rises anymore.
Mmm... I'm not surprised. In the span of a few days, he lost his family, his friends, and almost all of his countrymen.
And yet, we're blessed that you are still with us! Prince Reyson, if there's anything this doddering old bird can do for you, please do not hesitate to ask.
Thank you. I appreciate your kind sentiment.
Nealuchi! You can talk ancient history later. Leave us at once.
Yes, yes, of course. I'm sure you've much to talk about, much to say. I'll just take my leave of you... Please, Prince Reyson. Make yourself at home.
When he heard the White Prince himself was gracing us with a visit, he could barely contain his joy. So, Prince. What's this all about? We haven't seen your face around here in a long time, and I'm naturally quite curious as to your intentions.
Your attitude during the Goldoa meeting piqued my interest. What is it you're after, Naesala? Why do you provoke Tibarn?
You came all this way for that? Are you serious?
Do not mock me, crow king! Tibarn is my father's guardian. If not for him, we might have suffered the end of House Serenes itself. I will not brook any insults to him.
Oh, I see. So rather than ally yourself with me, your trusted companion of old, you would side with this new protector? That's an unfortunate shift in attitude. I trust you remember that when you and your sister were young, it was I, and not Tibarn, who watched over you?
Any change in my bearing can be laid at your roost, Naesala. After all... you, my old friend, are the one who continues to engage in commerce with my enemy. With humans. If you were to change your ways, I'm sure we could rebuild the relationship the two of us once shared.
Oh no, that I could never do. You see, humans are essential to the fulfillment of my ambitions.
... You've changed, Naesala. If this is the path you've chosen, I've nothing left to say.
Yes, yes, I'm sure you're an antagonist with nuance. Go on, let's hear it all.
Bring him in.
They're supposed to be extinct!
And what if it were?
Oh, I was right! Wonderful! My eyes did not deceive me. Those dazzling white wings. And that shimmering hair, sparkling like falling gold dust... That is the crystallization of beauty in its purest form--
Duke Oliver, can we please discuss the business at hand? Per your request, we have appropriated several pieces of art from the ships of Duke Gaddos.
Yes, yes, and you will be compensated as promised. But right now there is... something else that I simply must have.
Really? Another request? What can we purloin for you today? More art, perhaps?
Oh ho! Something much more stunning. And if you agree to my proposition, I will double your normal fee!
That is a most generous offer. Tell me, what is it you desire?
What... but... you...
I wonder what she's planning. That cargo... I can't help but believe that there were living creatures inside, but... What do you suppose the apostle intends to do with them?
I don't know. Titania, are all nobles and royals like this? They have plans and paperwork for every little thing, and their speech is as confusing as it is tedious.
There's Princess Elincia, and King Gallia, and the dragon prince, too! All of them have been so nice and friendly and easy to talk to.
Perhaps the rudeness of the upper echelon is unique to the beorc class system. Princess Elincia was raised in special circumstances. Maybe that's why she's so different.
Bah! I could never get accustomed to the culture of beorc nobles.
We contrived circumstances so Astrid was basically getting a kill per turn. Oh, MVP mechanics, how poorly thought out you continue to be...
Also, as you may have noticed; we are actually being paid for all this work we're doing in Begnion. The Apostle is, if nothing else, true to her word, it seems. This is very fortunate, since we're going to be in need of some cash over the next few chapters now that we've got Steel Forges available.
Anyway, let's Base!
You have my condolences for the terrible misfortune that has befallen your country and people. Yet you remain blessed! Fate has brought you here to the Grand Temple Mainal! To the splendor of Begnion, grandest of all the nations of Tellius. By the way, I hear you are traveling north to the Grann Desert. There are ancient ruins there, you know? They are the remnants of a race known as the Zunanma, who come from a civilization that predates our own. I'm sure you will enjoy the sensation of being immersed in such primordial surroundings!
Um... yeah. It'll be a real picnic.
Oh, yes, picnics are indeed nice. Oh, but a word of caution. Studying the ruins from afar is one thing, but you would be well advised to keep your distance... For safety's sake! It's said that there's a bandit stronghold near the northwest ruins. And we hear occasional reports of strange figures wandering the dunes in the northeast. Be careful!
They're underway. We leave within the hour.
Your next mission takes you to the Grann Desert. You must choose your companions with care.
A desert is just a large patch of sandy soil, is it not?
Ha ha! With one major difference! Unlike sandy soil, you'll not find solid earth near the surface.
I see. I'm sure that Soren knows much about these things, but...
Hmm? Has something befallen master Soren?
I don't know is he's feeling ill or just moping about. It all started when we arrived in Begnion.
Be that as it may, it won't hurt for me to have this information. Can you tell me more?
Of course. There's little water in the desert, and the soil is very dry. Few trees or grasses grow there. Which means there are no groves or anything else which would provide cover. And, as I mentioned before, those on foot or horseback will find the sand slows their pace considerably.
Thieves are agile, so I understand why they would be unaffected. But those skilled in the magical arts? That doesn't make sense.
I once heard an explanation from a magic user that I know... He claimed that the spirits he employed flew before him and cleared the sand from his path. However, considering the source, I'm not sure how much of that is truth.
Who was the source?
Prime Minister Sephiran.
Would he play a joke like that?
Ha ha! Well, the prime minister is a very amusing man. But, please, allow me to continue my explanation. What else...? Others who are unaffected by sand are pegasus knights, wyvern riders, and other flying units. Oh, and laguz too. Terrain features don't seem to affect them much in either form, although they will be slowed some.
You said laguz, didn't you? Almost everyone here says sub-human.
Well, of course. Beorc and laguz are both living things. Every precious life was created to be equal by the blessed goddess.
... Are you of a noble house?
Yes, I am. One must be of noble birth to serve the goddess.
But I though... that all nobles were half-crazed fools who can't speak the truth. You seem quite honest.
Ha ha, I'll take that as a compliment... Oh, and one last thing.
What is it?
The desert contains the remnants of more than one lost civilization.
Those with good luck may come across such treasures during battle.
Well, I hope you were paying attention, because that was Fire Emblem explaining the Fire Emblem Desert Level. It's a tradition that has sprung up a few times throughout the series and will doubtless continue to do so. There are three main features of the FEDL, and they are, of course, reduced movement for everyone who isn't a Thief, a Mage, a flyer or a Laguz, massively reduced movement for Knights and Cavaliers, and buried treasure that has a chance of being discovered when you Wait on top of it. That last one is kinda important; there's some seriously good shit up for grabs. We'll get to the mechanics of this when the time comes.
Speaking of fabulous riches...
If a scoundrel like myself can find employment in a place like this, I guess my luck hasn't abandoned me after all.
But... for all the glitter and gold, there's an equal amount of dangerous work. Hmm... That I could do without. Maybe I can use my prone-to-illness ploy... Cough! Yes, I think I can arrange to work about one out of every... five jobs or so! And now that I've a fixed income, it's time to visit the local inns and see what games of chance are about!
You were talking out loud. Loudly.
Um... I, uh... I wasn't being serious... I am an extremely diligent man! Yes, I am!
Those peddlers you were with... You were in debt to them, right?
Huh? How do you know that?
When we took out that group, your debt vanished...
Yes! You're right! That was a tremendous help. Thanks much!
Come now, you can't believe that the world is as forgiving as that. Or that we are so foolish.
Debts are debts, and you have many. Those peddlers weren't the only people who were owed coin by you... Right? We can't have debt collectors hounding the company day in and day out. My staff officer repaid the rest of the money you owe.
Tha-that's... very kind of you.
Ah! But! Aaah!
Payment will be deducted from your wages. For... quite some time. It seems you're working for free, friend.
Oh! I--! Oooh!
Until your debts are completely repaid, don't even think about leaving the company. Or getting sick. Right then! I trust you'll do your best.
The good news is that we haven't actually spent any money on Makalov, which is fortunate, since if this scenario was actually played out in the game mechanics, 50% of players would probably just quit the game at this point.
Light/Fire: Def +0.5, Hit +5, Atk +0.5
Marcia! How are you doing, beautiful?
Huh? How do you know my name?
Why wouldn't I know the name of a cute girl like you?! You know, there was a time when Titania was the only woman in this mercenary group. Things have really started to shape up while I was away. Mmm... Not bad at all.
Oh, nice line, chump. I'm swooning. Waaaait... You were a member of the Greil Mercenaries?
Yep. Actually, I was a senior member.
I knew it! You were one of the guys that saved me from those boat monkeys, weren't you?
Boat monk... You mean the pirates? Uh... of course! That was me!
Aw, heck! That's fantastic! I was so grateful for the help. Lemme do something to return the favor!
That's nice of you to say, but having someone as gorgeous and talented as you join is payment enough. I need nothing more!
Whoa... that's a lot of pressure. I had no idea people depended on me so much. In any case, I'll keep doing my best! Wish me luck!
She's so adorable! She will be mine... Oh, yes. She... will... be... mine.
Light/Wind: Def +0.5, Hit +5, Avo +2.5
Hey there, Astrid! Have I told you yet just how glad I am that you've joined our little band of warriors?
No, but I'm flattered that you say so. I'm glad to be riding with you as well. I heard you were once among Ike's band of mercenaries. Is that true?
Oh, yeah... We go way back. I've been through a lot with them. Is there anything I can help you out with? I'm always glad to assist such a beautiful girl.
Oh... thank you, Gatrie. Actually... Will you teach me how to fight like a mercenary?
Eh? You want to fight like a mercenary?
I don't have much fighting experience. I want to learn so I can hold my own in battle. I don't want to be a burden.
Oh, I get it! That's very admirable, Astrid! Er... But now isn't the best time for that, I'm a little sore from... uh... lifting heavy things... Blast! Where's Titania when you need her? I don't know the first thing about training people...
Sorry? I didn't catch that.
Ha ha! No, nothing at all! Let's train some other day! I want to make sure I'm totally prepared!
Perhaps next time, then. I'm looking forward to it!
She's so cute... And she asked me to teach her to fight! That must mean... Yes! I knew it! She wants me! She's crazy for me! This is going to be fun.
As you can probably imagine, Gatrie's supports have a... theme.
Wind/Wind: Hit +5, Avo +5
Taking care of your weapons, Sothe?
Yeah, that's right.
Ahhh... splendid. May I speak to you for a moment?
What do you want?
You are quite skilled with a dagger. If my memory serves, swords are very effective against axes. But, can you tell me which weapon axes are most suited to attack?
Hah! You don't even know that? I thought you were a mercenary!
Oh... I'm sorry. Please forgive my ignorance. It's been only a short while since I became a mercenary. What's more, I wield a bow.
What did you do before?
I wasn't doing... anything. Nothing at all, really.
Nothing? It's hard to fill your stomach doing nothing! Ahh, I get it. You're a noble, aren't you? I can tell from all that poncy talk of yours! Peh! You couldn't tell a hatchet from a pot of rat stew! Not that you'd ever eat rat stew... But why is a soft-hand like you in this war?
Ah, well... Who am I to judge? As long as you feather some Daein scum, you're all right with me.
...? Something... nevermind.
Water/Thunder: Atk +1, Def +2, Avo +5
Does that taste good, Jill?
Mmrph... Yeah, it's really good. Why?
Because I made it! I'm glad you like it.
You made this?
Yep. I call it Mist's Magical Meatloaf! It's chock full of stuff that's good for you, especially when you're sick. You look real sad and you never eat, So I thought this would make you feel better.
You're worried about me? Why are you so... nice to me? I'm a Daein sol--
Stop. Please stop saying that.
Why? It's true.
Because it makes me feel bad, that's why! You're always saying, "I'm a Daein soldier! Everyone should hate me! Blah blah blah!" You're not a bad person, Jill. I want to be your friend. And you make it really hard!
Water/Water: Atk +2, Def +2
You are quite an energetic girl, are you not?
Yep! I'm in a good mood today.
I am glad to hear it.
Well, I like to think I have a cheery disposition. I don't like to be a Complainy Janey, you know? Ha ha... Um... And I like cooking, too. Oh, but I'm not so good at sewing, but my mother was.
Is that so.
And... And... Um... I forgot what else I was going to say. Um, er... Uh...
Mist. You must breathe.
... HAAAAAA! Whew! Sorry! I'm better now...
You are nervous. You have not spoken to many laguz before. I can tell. But in your heart, you are trying to be my friend. That much is clear to me. Most clear.
Do not be nervous. In time, we will grow to be friends. To speak true, Mordecai feels as nervous as you do.
Oh, Mordecai... Yes... Thank you. I feel a lot better now, kind of. You're right. I shouldn't try so hard, should I?
Thunder/Water: Avo +5, Def +2, Atk +1
Hello, Mordecai. Wow, are you carrying all those crates by yourself? That's incredible!
Grrrrr! Count on me for a strong back and a pair of paws. Uuuuuurrrrrrffffff! These are the last ones.
How can you carry all those at once? I could never do that.
Eat big meals and get meat on your bones. Then you can lift crates like me.
I would love to eat big meals... But I can't. Because... well... I have no money... That's why I faint all the time.
Mmm? You go hungry because you don't have money for food? That shames us all. It will end now. Take my gold... Go! Feast! Eat as much as you want. Become fat and happy, little beorc.
Really? Are you... sure?
Anything? Anything? at all?
I would not lie to a hungry beorc.
Thank you, Mordecai... I don't know what to say... You're like an angel.
Me? No... stop. You embarrass me.
Earth/Wind: Avo +15, Hit +5
Hi, Kieran. Still hanging in there, huh?
I can't take it anymore! Come back! Rejoin the proud brotherhood of the Crimean knights!
This is sudden--
As a former Crimean knight, surely you have some sense of loyalty! What say you!? Rejoin! For king and country! The homeland is in danger! Any who used to be Crimean knights should come rushing to her aid!
You have a point. And I'm glad I'm able to help rebuild the homeland, even if it's as a mercenary.
I'm not here to make you glad! I'm here to convince you to be a knight again! You're not fulfilling your allegiance to sweet Crimea by being a mercenary! How can you sleep at night?
I love Crimea, but I'm happy here. I want to serve Ike as a member of the Greil Mercenaries. Forever.
Darn! Why!? What draws you guys to such a life...? What could make the mercenary life so appealing that you would sell your loyalty to our glorious homeland, Crimea? A-ha! Could it be the nice fat salary!? That's it! I remember you saying that you needed money! Ho! Loose lips sink ships!
If I wanted money, I would have stayed with the Crimean knights. I only get about half of that now.
What in the--!? Bah! Wake up, man! Can't you see you're being duped!? Honor! Fortune! Glory! It can be yours!
I doubt it.
Bah, I say! You're hopeless!
Astrid's crappy levels from the last chapter all seem to magically wash away somehow.
Nephenee gets Defence! All is well! (And yes, I am passing the Knight Ward around wherever possible!)
(Sometimes it's the only thing that makes these bearable!)
(Okay, many times.)
Volke gets another Strength/Speed focused level. This seems to be a thing with him.
The Armoury sells Daggers this chapter. It's worth picking one or two up if you have any intentions at all about having Volke or Sothe maybe deal damage some time. It's got 4 Mt over the Knife's 2; it's not much, but it's something, and Thieves'll take anything.
(the joke works on two levels!)
Well, let's take a look-see.
Recently--ever since we reached Begnion, in fact--you've seemed depressed.
Is... is that so? How odd. Well, I can think of nothing specific that's bothering me.
Well, if you say so.
... Eh? Yes, what is it?
All right, I know there's something going on!
Well, I was going to ask you for directions, but it's no longer necessary. It looks like we're being met.
We're mercenaries. We were hired to take care of a group of bandits operating in this area.
More of the senators' dogs! You cast us as thieves so you can murder us and hide your guilt! But we will not be defeated! Mark my words! The day will come when all slaves are free, and then you will pay for your crimes!
What on earth are you talking about?
No more useless words! Come, my brothers! Take them!
Missing from the caption: "Welcome to" and "...asshole".
So, yeah, whereas other Fire Emblem Desert Levels at least had the decency to inconvenience the enemy as much as it inconveniences you, this one... doesn't so much. OK, so the enemy laguz won't be in your face when they're not transformed, but... let's just say that this chapter has found a way to be an asshole anyway.
I know what I'm doing. Everyone! Watch your footing in this sand. Take care and fight well!
The map is, naturally, quite large. And that's not even the whole map!
We have, in fact, got quite a lot of ground to cover. What, you don't think a game like this would put a little alcove that far off your path and not make you sorely regret not going there? You must not be a Fire Emblem fan.
Well, I'm sure you know what time it is! I refer, of course, to Voting Time!
I will be bringing along Ike, Soren, Mist, Marcia, Jill, Volke, Sothe, and Mordecai.
That means there are six extra spaces available for you to fill. Now, I know I implicitly say this every time, but today I'm not gonna be subtle: choose carefully! Some units will be quite inconvenienced by the desert terrain, but may be useful anyway, and, inversely, just because a unit can move freely here doesn't necessarily make them well suited.
Units that will be unhindered: Rhys, Ilyana, Lethe
Units that will be slowed a bit (can move 3 spaces): Boyd, Mia, Rolf, Nephenee, Zihark.
Cavaliers (will be slowed a lot (can move 2 spaces)): Oscar, Titania, Kieran, Astrid, Makalov.
Knights (will be just plain fucked (can move 1 space)): Brom, Gatrie.
Oh, and I suppose we'd better Forge something, too!
Because this update and the last one were delayed somewhat, we've got less time than usual: 24 hours (plus a few). Should be plenty, though!