Part 26: Chapter 15 - MissionAccompanying our flyers and Thieves into the desert will be Mia, Zihark, Nephenee, Ilyana, Lethe and Rolf. Speaking of Rolf...
Yes please. This is a Steel Bow, but with +5 Mt and a bit of extra hit. As usual, it's roughly 5x the price, but we're OK with that.
Sadly, its damage output is not fixed at 1000, but it'll certainly output damage.
Some of our units would like some BEXP...
Pretty useful. Ilyana can now wield Thunder tomes without a Speed penalty, and is more accurate to boot. She's also neck and neck for Magic with Soren, which is something.
Zihark gets Strength too. That's good.
Right. To battle!
Lethe immediately transforms, of course.
This Cat over here is our most immediate threat; he's on 16 TP right now, so he'll transform on his next turn. Most of the enemies here are on different amounts of TP, so they'll all be gradually transforming as the battle continues.
Lethe finishes him off, and with him dies 340 BEXP.
Oh, is the game forgetting to tell us important things again? Here, I'll oblige: It turns out that you get 40 BEXP for every enemy on this map you don't kill (excluding the boss, killing of whom being your objective), and an additional 300 BEXP if you don't kill any of them. All this is in addition to the turn bonus (7 turns, 300 BEXP), and that is in addition to the treasure. I'll be blunt; there is basically no way to get all three. At least one of them has to go. And, let's be honest, it might as well be the pacifism bonus; these guys will all drop full Combat EXP (they are, after all, decently strong, and even if you try not to kill them they sure as hell aren't gonna stop trying to kill you), and we're long past the stage where 40 BEXP is good for 40 EXP on anyone other than Astrid.
Oh, and I think I mentioned treasure somewhere in that last paragraph?
There are a good few buried items scattered throughout this map. Each one is buried beneath a group of tiles, which might be a 3x3 square or just a single tile, and can be found by simply standing on top of it. Thieves are guaranteed to find the items, everyone else is, as Sigrun told us before the mission, reliant on Luck. Except, actually, that's another lie - the stat that actually matters here is Skill. A non-thief unit has a [Skill +1 ]% chance of finding a hidden item. There is some seriously good shit up for grabs here, and it's worth taking the time to dig it all up.
Since we're on the subject of Sigrun lying to us, it turns out that Laguz are restricted in the desert, too - well, the birds aren't, obviously, but the beasts are. So, since we need Mordecai to be elsewhere, Jill picks him up and carries him northeast.
Volke moves west (the two laguz there won't transform for a while)...
And digs up a Guard scroll. Guard is a nifty little skill with a stupid name - probably a translation error or mixup. In Radiant Dawn it is renamed "Cancel", which is a better name because that's what the skill actually does; on a successful hit, you'll have a [Skill]% chance of preventing the enemy from counterattacking, thus saving yourself from maybe taking a hit. Handy!
Everyone else spreads out, and we end turn.
The two tigers either side of the boss both transform.
This Raven from the southwest corner doesn't transform, but charges us anyway. K.
Otherwise, the enemy turn is quite uneventful.
All else aside, I'd rather not kill this guy, but he's in our way. Well, actually, he's in Volke's way. He's standing on treasure, you see.
Silver Blades (A-Rank) are very strong and lighter than Steel Blades, but are the least accurate swords in the game and have only 15 uses.
Mordecai gets dropped off in the northeast corner.
This guy is going to transform next turn, so Marcia gets him weakened early so she doesn't have to contend as much with his defence later. She's also going to bait the transformed Raven to the north of her. And yes, she's wearing the Laguzguard at the moment.
This Cat over here is the primary reason Ilyana isn't charging east right now. Lethe opts to keep him busy instead.
Hmm... I wonder? Rolf reduces that Raven to 1 HP. He doesn't have a Vulnerary, so he'll probably just run away.
End of turn 2.
Yep. He's running. Unfortunately, he's running north, so he's probably going to end up still in our way.
Lethe continues her battle, and the enemy Cat is left severely weakened.
Marcia, meanwhile, contends with a newly transformed Tiger.
And a Raven.
This is pretty OK. Marcia's Strength and Defence gains haven't been all that, but her Speed is batshit. She's actually dead on all of her expected stats (averages) for this level except HP, Speed and Luck, in which she's two or three ahead. Fine by me!
Volke, meanwhile, experiences our first encounter with a Hawk.
Hawks are big, and are also generally stronger and tougher but slower than Ravens. In that sense, Hawks and Ravens are kinda like Tigers and Cats really, except they can fly.
They're also just as weak to Bows as any other flyer.
This sure is a level.
Volke grabs a heal from Mist, and makes the next stop on his tour...
Shine is mid-level Light magic. Or, to put it another way, Shine is some free Gold, because Rhys is the only person on our team who can ever hypothetically use Light magic, and somehow I don't see him promoting.
Sothe keeps busy, too...
Friggin' sweet. Physic Staves (C-Rank) are among the most absurdly useful staves in the entirety of Fire Emblem. They're like Heal staves, except they can be used at a range of up to [Magic / 2] squares from the user. That means you can keep your healers off the front lines, and that's invaluable.
A kill for Ilyana...
And a fight for Jill. Again, this guy's gonna transform next turn, so we want him nicely pre-weakened. Actually, he's going to transform immediately after we attack him, since he's on 18 TP right now.
This little alcove here actually contains a patch of normal terrain, so Mordecai can move a bit further than normal. Note also Jill's position; she's blocking the entrance to the alcove, so the Tiger outside will have to fight her, so she can counter him.
Neph takes a shot. If she misses, we can have Marcia clean up. But she doesn't miss.
So ends turn 3. It's getting harder and harder to get everything in one shot...
The Raven over here shifts, as do some of the cats near the boss.
One goes for Marcia, but misses.
The other goes for Volke.
Jill's buddy duly attacks her and gets reduced to 3 HP...
And the Raven passes on Mordecai and goes for Jill instead. Not really sure why - this goes against the AI's love of not being counterattacked, but whatever...
That's him taken care of.
Now, let's check out this particular single square of desert...
Something's... here... Beneath... the sand... Mmmrrr??
So there you are.You are... good at hiding.
To be praised by one of the beast tribes is an honor! I am Stefan! I live here in this desolate wasteland, playing at being a hermit. Who are you? I haven't seen you in these parts before.
I am Mordecai, a warrior of Gallia. This is the first time I have walked beyond the borders of my country.
I thought that might be the case... And I was right. Hoooo! I'm ever so clever!
Um... My friends and I are fighting, so I... cannot. Sorry.
Very well, then! I will help you. Once this battle is finished, you'll have time to converse, yes?
All right. If you will fight with us, then I will call Stefan a friend. Later, we will talk about Gallia.
I'm looking forward to it. Right then, off we go!
Yes! Off we go!... Right... then...
Well, that just happened, didn't it? Somehow, we've gotten ourselves a new recruit:
Hot. Damn. Stefan is a Swordmaster - what Myrmidons promote into - and man, can he ever fuck shit up. Aside from his awesome stats, he's also got an innate +15 Crit as a perk of being a Swordmaster, just because. The only way to recruit Stefan is to step on his one fucking square using either Mordecai or Lethe. If you do it with anyone else...
Oh, look at you! Lost in a place like this... What an odd duck you must be. Hmm... It would be a shame to see you go home empty-handed, though. I will give you this as a memento! Now, in exchange... I ask you to treat our meeting as a dream and let it fade from your memory. And now, I bid thee... farewell!
...and he'll disappear forever, although he will hand you his sword. Speaking of his sword...
Vague Katti is the S-Rank sword, and it's pretty fucking awesome. It's very light (not that that'll matter by the time you're able to use it), quite strong (only three non-unique swords are stronger, and all have big drawbacks), and it has even more Crit than a Killing Edge. On top of all that, it grants +3 to Defence, just because! That's pretty damn amazing. Its name may or may not be a reference to the Mani Katti from Fire Emblem 7; if you look at its battle model, it at least looks like a similar sort of sword.
Oh! It gets better!
Stefan is also our first unit with a Mastery Skill. These singularly awesome skills are learned either innately (by certain pre-promoted units) or when a promoted unit uses an Occult scroll. There's a different skill for every class. Swordmasters get Astra, which gives them a [Skill / 2]% chance of attacking five times in a row, although each strike only hits for half damage.
Here's his scene with Lethe:
I... sense... something...
... Grrrr... Must be my imagination...
A female cat! Splendid! I've not seen your face in these parts before.
Aaaah! Wh-where... Where did you come from?
Oh, I see that I've startled you. My apologies.
Who are you?
If you wish to learn someone's name, isn't it polite to introduce yourself first?
Grrr... I am... Lethe. From Gallia.
And I... am Stefan! I live here in this desolate wasteland, playing at being a hermit.
Is that so? Well, don't let me interrupt your... life.
Oh no! Please don't worry about it.
Oh, I won't.
Why are you standing there staring at me? I'm interested in Gallia's beast tribes. Fascinating, really. I have an idea! Can we go somewhere and talk?
... I don't think so.
My companions and I are in the middle of a battle! I've no time to chitchat with you!
Very well... Then I will help you! And once this battle is finished, you'll have time to converse, yes?
I suppose... perhaps...
Right! Off we go then!
...What sort of lunatic have I found now?
Incidentally, Stefan does have one unique conversation that doesn't result in him joining:
Are you lost, young one? What are you doing in this place?
What are YOU doing here? Are you with the sub-humans? ... Wait, did you just pop out of the sand?
...Hmm. It seems I made an error.
What are you talking about? You're not--
I was wrong. It's nothing. I've no use for you.
Oh. All right, then.
It would be a shame to see you go home empty-handed, though. I will give you this as a memento! Now, in exchange... I ask you to treat our meeting as a dream and let it fade from your memory. And now, I bid thee... farewell!
Stefan isn't going to help us much in this fight, but that's OK. We've got this.
Something else we've got is another of these things. Hey, it's more Gold for us!
Rolf finally gets a good chance to use his newest toy.
It suits him rather well! He chooses this moment to advance to C-Rank in bows.
Soren gets this amazing level from killing a Cat, and Zihark breaks out the Laguzslayer to finish a Tiger.
End of turn 4. Only two more treasures to go...
That injured Raven from way back when finally transforms...
And trades one of the Tigers for a Vulnerary, which he uses.
Marcia is set upon by another cat...
And Lethe by a tiger. I actually worry somewhat about Lethe; she's running out of TP...
She's still good for now, though.
This Raven was fighting Jill, but decided to run away. Ilyana puts paid to that.
This is pretty OK, I guess!
This Hawk over here isn't in our way, but it'd be quite convenient for him to die this turn.
Specifically, the spot form which Volke kills him...
...contains the Boots. This unique and extremely amazing item will permanently increase one unit's Move by 2. I'm probably going to sit on this for ages before finally remembering to have a vote on who gets it. Most people give it to Ike. It's a sound plan.
Now that he's got his C-Rank, Rolf can use the Laguz Bow. Not even the beasts are safe!
It's two stats, but they're impeccably placed, so I'm good with this.
End of turn 5...
Every enemy is now transformed, but this Raven is still running away and healing.
Lethe takes a hit and gives one, but now she's out of TP.
Marcia takes a quite nasty hit from one of the Boss's buddies, but she uses the Laguz Lance to return the favour.
Man, Volke's seeing a lot of combat today.
I don't like this one bit. Lethe will just have to hold out until the end of the mission. She's got her Vulnerary; it should do.
Soren disposes of the boss's remaining friend.
Rolf clears up another...
And Marcia stands between the Cat to the west and Soren.
Meanwhile, Nephenee pokes a Cat, and Volke just stays put.
End of turn 6.
What a productive use of a turn.
Cat attacks Nephenee. Big mistake.
Our first legitimate, non-redundant Wrath Crit, ladies and gents.
Alright, Nephenee. Strength. You can do that, right?
Right. Our turn. Let's end this.
Mordecai and Stefan have been trying to dig this damn thing up for the last three turns and failed. Fortunately, I planned for that, and had Sothe make his way over, and he grabs it instead. White Gems are, of course, the next tier up from Blue, and sell for a wonderful 10,000 Gold each.
Now, that boss...
Hoo boy. Muarim is a bit powerful, even with the Demi Band. He's very strong, very fast, and quite tough. Recommend extreme caution and maximum firepower. To wit:
Please! Stop! Why are young cubs like you on the battlefield? Why?
Rolf's Laguz Bow.
Soren's GreatBallsOf(Fire) tome.
And Marcia's Laguz Lance. By the way, Marcia would've been killed if this had missed. Just sayin'.
And that's that.
Muarim, incidentally, has quite a few dialogue options. Ike:
If what you say is true... If you really aren't bandits, then stop fighting! If this is some kind of mistake, we can talk it over.
Ha! I won't fall for that trick. That's how your kind always deceives and traps us. ... Here I come!
Listen to me, brother. Come to your senses and stop this!
Heed my words! Do not throw away your laguz pride and run with humans like--
What did you say? You are one to speak of pride! You who associate with a band of common thieves!
This is a waste of time. Come, I will show you the truth of my words.
Move away, brother tiger. I have no wish to fight one of my own.
I do not wish to harm you, either. Let's stop fighting and talk.
... Talk? It seems you've already been tamed. ... How unfortunate... Now you die!
... G-gulp! C-calm down... Oh, my heart's... beating so fast... Gotta aim for a vital spot! C-careful...
... What? You there! Stop! I don't fight children!
What? No, not another child...
Stop! Your sword hand, it's trembling! ... Please! Don't do this!
... No... I will not be the only one who runs away!
Yes... I am. I'll resist you no further. Take me with you or execute me here... I care not. But my companions... Would you let them go? ... Please?
No! I won't allow it!
Grrr... Stay back, little one! You were not supposed to expose--
If you want Muarim, you'll have to kill me first!
Yes, he is a beorc child. I claimed him when he was little more than an infant. He has nothing to do with us... sub-humans...
You're a big jerk, Muarim! Trying to cover for everyone and get yourself killed? I won't allow it!
Hey! I don't care who the real leader is.
Do I have that right? Because if I do, I have absolutely no idea what any of you are talking about. Would someone please tell me what is going on here?
So there's a portion of society that willingly breaks the law?
The commoners obey, but there are still many laguz slaves in the homes of nobles. Muarim and I brought this to the attention of the senators, but they would not listen. That's why we gathered other fighters. We break into the homes where slaves are kept and help them escape. Of course, the nobles can't let this be known publicly, so they brand us thieves and turn us into wanted outlaws.
All right. I think I understand your motives, but you're not going to solve the basic problem this way.
We know that. But we can't give up and leave them in chains. We can't and won't!
This sort of beorc behavior is something that's been bothering me. I think there may be something that I can do...
I left no word with Tibarn. If I had known we were coming this far, I would have left a message...
Here we are. This is what I wanted to show you. Look below you, Reyson. What do you see?
What... what is this? How is this possible? What happened here?!
This... is Serenes? Is this what you're trying to tell me?! This colorless vista, these cracked and withered branches, these lifeless trees... This is my forest?
The Ancient Tongue is actually just a stylized font, so you can work out what's being said when someone uses it. Or just look it up. What Reyson actually said was "Sacred trees! Seed, root, and trunk! Awake from your slumber and heed my cry! Answer the call of the green, mighty ones!". I'll be posting translated lines inline with the rest of the dialogue from here on out - I'll indicate when a line was spoken in Ancient-ese. Here:
[Sacred trees! Seed, root, and trunk! Awake from your slumber and heed my cry! Answer the call of the green, mighty ones!]
... The ancient tongue. It's been many years since I heard it last. You can still speak it.
The voice of the forest is still. Why... How did this...
It's been like this since your clan's been gone. The area near the entrance is especially bad. They used fire... Most of the trees are dead.
... Unforgivable. How... how can they do things like this. Cursed humans... What did this forest do? What did my clan do...
Humans hold all laguz in contempt. And in the same way, they hold all of nature in contempt as well. They think everything exists for their pleasure and betterment... They are beneath contempt.
I called you a groveling toady to humans and labeled you traitor. I was overly harsh. I apologize.
Not to worry. I engage in occasional commerce with humans... That much is true. A more pressing issue is the growing darkness. You can return to Phoenicis tomorrow, can you not? I'm certain that some noble has a villa in this area. At this time of year, it is almost certain to be empty. I suggest we borrow it for the evening.
You would sleep in a human building?
Think about it... Bird folk like you and I have no night vision whatsoever. If we were discovered by humans, they would surely overwhelm and capture us, right?
Mmm... I see your point.
Thank you. For everything you've done. I... I appreciate it.
Don't be ridiculous. We're old friends, are we not?
Right you are! Old friend.
I bet it isn't. Just make sure that mountain of suet stays hidden. If Reyson catches so much as a glimpse of his bulk, he will take wing.
Now, time to put on the finishing touches. This, too, I do to raise up Kilvas. Reyson, please don't judge me too harshly.
For a 7-turn clear, we get the maximum bonus, so that's great! We also managed to keep some of the enemy alive. For the most part, though, the combat EXP we got from them was worth the while, even if some of the levels weren't - a good few units are a hair away from a potentially good level, so it's not all a disaster.
Lv 8 Swordmaster
HP: 38 (70%) Spd: 25 (55%)
Str: 19 (50%) Lck: 5 (25%)
Mag: 8 (20%) Def: 12 (35%)
Skl: 27 (40%) Res: 9 (30%)
Move: 7 Con: 13 Wt: 13
Equip: Swords (S)
Skill: Astra, Crit +15
Stefan, Fuck Yeah. He's got amazing bases and solid growths in Strength, Skill, and Speed, and even pretty respectable defences. His only negative at this point is his curiously terrible luck and a growth to match - meaning that other Swordmasters will eventually be a fair bit better at dodging than he is, and you might find him facing uncomfortably high crit odds - y'know, from anyone who survives long enough to roll for one. On top of his stats, he comes with the best sword in the game, and he's got a Mastery Skill pre-learned. Even if you don't plan on using him (and there's a case for not using him straight away, given his somewhat overpoweredness), you do not want to not recruit Stefan. Trust me on this.
Next Time: Ike puts two and two together...