Part 36: Chapter 18 - Preamble
Western Bengion is home to a great forest.
At one time these woods were home to the kingdom of Serenes, and ruled by the heron clan of the bird tribes.
Following the Serenes Massacre, the forest lost its color and vitality. Some said it was the sorrow of the goddess made real. For twenty long years, the devout citizens of Begnion trembled in shame and loathing over the crime they had committed.
The Bengion Empress, Apostle Sanaki, stepped forward as representative of her countrymen.
Kneeling before the surviving heron prince and princess, she gave voice to the apology of her people. She spoke not as one nation to another but as neighbors on the same continent. The massacre was unforgivable. However, hatred breeds hatred, and if the cycle of grief and anger is not broken, it will continue for time without end. It was with this in mind that the herons accepted the apostle's apology.
And so it was that Serenes Forest was returned to its former glory.
Afterward, as payment for Ike's service, Princess Elincia gained the services of a regiment of Begnion army regulars.
Though of common birth, Ike receives peerage from the princess and is given command of the army.
As the first snow of the season falls, the newly commissioned General Ike takes control of the Crimean Liberation Army. He leads it toward the knife-edged mountains that mark the border between Begnion and Daein.
And with this, we enter the next "act" of the game. Exactly how many there are is up for debate (to an extent), but this, right here, is very definitely a transition.
According to our spy, they march with a regiment of Begnion's army. They plan to take a land route through Daein and then into Crimea.
Hah! They plan to cut across Daein? With nothing more than a single regiment at whose core is a tattered band of ragtag mercenaries? Gawain's son leads this rabble, yes? How does he stand up to his father's legacy?
He doesn't. He's just a boy, not yet worthy of his father's name.
And not just Begnion's apostle, either. He's also gained the trust of the Serenes survivors... and of King Phoenicis as well.
The herons are alive?
It appears that two members of the royal family survived.
Heh heh... Look how nicely the table's been set for us.
... As you wish.
Look there, atop that building!... Daein wyvern riders on patrol. They won't be happy to see us.
Only a few times. I got the impression that the Kilvas ravens were the more dangerous foe.
If that's your impression, then you have yet to fight true wyvern riders.
What do you mean?
I have no way of judging the ones we see here, but I know another unit, one that was attached to Begnion's temple guard. They had their reasons for leaving... But the important thing to remember is that they are exceedingly powerful.
That's right. Pegasus knights fare better than most against wyvern riders. We know the skies as well as they do.
Yeah, I prefer to keep my feet on the ground, thank you. Can I entrust the flying business to you?
Of course. We'll bring honor to the name of the apostle's sacred guards.
I think Astrid deserves this one on general principle.
Well, I think I've missed the base. Haven't you? Let's converse!
All right. Can you have them wait?
Do you want them to fall out and wait in their tents? Or would you rather they form up and stand at attention?
Go ahead and have them stand down. I'll call them when I'm ready.
However, General Tanith requests her orders. Are her pegasus knights to stand down as well?
Am I supposed to decide that, too?
General Ike... You've been given command of the entire army, sir. We will not move without your orders, sir.
General Tanith's troops... are to follow General Tanith's orders.
Understood, sir! General Tanith's pegasus knights will not be deployed unless there is a request for reinforcements. Those are the orders of General Tanith. By your leave, sir!
...but wait, wasn't this a two star conversation? There was info hinted at in there somewhere, but... well, we'll get to that later.
General Ike. What is it? Is there a problem?
I thought you might be able to provide me with some information.
What can you tell me about King Daein? I'd like to know something of him before I have to face him in battle.
Truth be told, I've never fought him, either. I cannot give you any specifics, but I will tell you what little I do know.
Please. Whatever you can tell me would be appreciated.
Ashnard's coronation, let me see... Yes, it was eighteen years ago.
Ashnard was crowned the year after that great tragedy finally subsided. In the entire history of Tellius, no calamity has claimed the lives of so many beorc and laguz -- not since the great flood. Two years before, it struck Begnion, and the entire population of Serenes was nearly obliterated. The year after that, close to a thousand beorc -- nobles and peasants alike -- perished in Daein.
Nobles, you say? So the royal family fell victim to this plague as well?
Yes. The reigning king and queen and some twenty or so princes and princesses fell ill. And everyone who fell ill perished. For a time, the people despaired of losing the entire royal bloodline of Daein. It seemed that none would survive.
And yet Ashnard survived.
He did. It is quite interesting, in a sense. You see, his name was never mentioned in any talk of succession before that time. He was of such a distant bloodline that he was unlikely to be king. In another place though, his name was already well known.
Where was that?
At the time, then-prince Ashnard was said to have been a match for an entire troop of pegasus knights. Begnion and Daein both keep close watch over their borders, and their patrols fought in many skirmishes. Although there was no war to speak of, these land disputes did end with Daein claiming a small portion of Begnion soil. It would be no exaggeration to say this was solely due to the strength of one man: Ashnard.
Forgive me. I have spoken longer than I intended. It's about time we get back to the business of marching preparations.
No, thank you for telling me so much. If we have another chance, please share more of your stories.
Tormod, Muarim, I know I've asked you many times, but... Are you sure you want to be here?
You keep asking that! Maybe you don't want us here. Is that it? I don't know what to think!
No, it's not that at all. To be honest, the battle ahead is going to be hard... It looks bleak. I'd rather that those without direct ties to Crimea not get involved.
A bleak battle? What about trying to free all the slaves in Begnion? Now THOSE were bleak battles. Bleak battles are our specialty. Right, Muarim?
Yet... thanks to Ike's time in Begnion, things have changed completely.
That's right. The apostle has promised to press her investigation until there's not a single laguz slave left in the entire nation. So, there's no reason for you two to continue fighting, is there? You don't owe me anything--
We're going to fight with you, Ike. We want to help!
It is our right to join you in this. Just as it is your right to refuse us.
To be perfectly frank, I would be willing to beg to get you to join us. Both of you, all right?
Ha ha! You can count on us!
We're finally allowed to do some more supports, so let's do that!
Water/Heaven: Atk +0.5, Def +0.5, Hit +5
Stefan! Here you are.
Do you still want to hear about Gallia? There are many things I can tell you.
I was wondering... Do you like Gallia, Mordecai?
I do. Gallia is a good country, Strong. Plentiful. Very good for me and for my friends.
It is, huh?
And do you like Begnion?
I detest it.
Detest? I do not know this word.
Then you're lucky. Sometimes, being ignorant can a blessing.
Ignorant? ... I have a difficult time with beorc words. They are strange to me.
Well... that was informative.
Wind/Fire: Avo +2.5, Hit +5, Atk +0.5
Yoo-hoo! Hey there, little one! Devdan has something to tell you.
What... is it?
Devdan thinks that you look angry. Why are you always scowling? Small children will start to cry!
You... think so?
It's frightening to look at you! You had better start to smile more... or else! Being too serious is a bad business. Keep it up and your life will end much sooner than you like!
Um... you're scaring me.
Is that right? Hmm... What's your name?
Well then, Devdan will now teach Nephenee how to laugh. Don't be shy! It will be fun!
All... right... Please don't hurt me.
Fire/Fire: Atk +1, Hit +5
Hmmm... I told him to meet me right here. Where is he...?
Devdan is here!
Gaaaah! Don't scare me like that! My heart nearly exploded! There goes ten years off my life!
Don't overreact, little Tormod. Devdan didn't scare ten years off your life... Devdan thinks you are just stalling! But now it's time to get to work. The commander asked us to work on these weapons. We should get started.
I'm the world's greatest mage! Why do I have to do these stupid chores?
Because you will learn something. It's important to know all about the different kind of weapons you'll encounter on the battlefield.
Hmmm... yeah. Well, you have a good point there.
Mua ha har hee ho hee hoo! All of Devdan's points are good!
Um... all right, then. I'll get started on the swords!
Light/Wind: Def +1, Hit +10, Avo +5
Gatrie? I'm here for my lesson. Are you ready?
Of course, of course! Er... ahem. All right then. Let's begin!
I'm eagerly awaiting your first instruction.
Er... Every soldier has a role, and it's important that everyone does what everyone is best at. With the right strategy, three soldiers can fight with the strength of ten!
I see... So everyone must fight to their strength. All right, I got it.
My job as a knight is to bravely step up and shield my allies from vicious, marauding attackers! I'm like an armored wall! Then the others can launch an attack from behind my impenetrable frame. Archers wait safely behind me and strike from a distance, while mounted units can ride in and crush the enemy. Well, that's what I hear... Er, I mean... that's pretty much how it all goes down in the heat of combat!
I see, but...
Don't worry! You can stay safely behind me. It's far too dangerous for you to venture away from me. Stay close... Yes, VEEERY close! Go on, don't be shy!
All right... I'll stay close. Oh, may I ask you just one more question?
...and it just cuts away there. K.
Water/Earth: Atk +1, Def +1, Avo +10
Howdy, Zihark. I had a good time with you the other day.
Heya, Brom! You're quite the talker! You made me laugh the whole time. I haven't had such a fun meal in a long time.
Aw, shucks! That makes me happy that I invited you out.
Oh, yeah. This is my share. Take it.
Don't worry about it. I invited you, remember? It's on me.
I can't let you do that, big guy. You invited me on short notice, and I didn't have any cash on me. But today I'm ready, so let me pay for my half.
Well, even if you want to, I don't even remember how much I paid.
The total came to four fifty. I'll give you two and a quarter, and we can call it even.
Well, aren't you a fine young man! You've got a good memory, and you can do math!
That's just my nature. Most mercenaries are basically lazy and sloppy... I think I drive them crazy.
Nah. That just makes you even more of a true man! I bet you're pretty popular with the young lasses, eh? Eh?!
Um... not... really. It would take an... eccentric girl to love a guy like me.
I tell you, Zihark, sometimes I don't get this world. I mean, even a simpleton like me has a family!
Ha! I'm telling you, Brom, you're a good man. Trust me on this one.
Oh, I have an idea! And it's a humdinger! You should marry my daughter!
Um... Er... I should what?
I don't mean to sound like a proud poppa, but they're all great girls! And if I like you this much, I'm sure that my daughters will like you, too.
Hey... Hey, enough with the jokes, Brom...
How about it? I think you'd be a great match for the oldest one! You're both the same age!
"Oh boy" is right. Nothing can good can come of this, I'm sure...
Light/Water: Hit +7.5, Def +3, Atk +1.5
Come over here for a second, Mist.
What is it, Titania?
Here. It's a little present from me.
Hey, this is that dress I saw in town the other day. Oooo, I loved this dress!
I thought so. Aren't you glad we made that trip together?
Oh, thank you, Titania.
It's nothing, Mist. Consider it a thank-you for all you've done. To tell you the truth, I've been a little worried about you. You've been doing so many chores, and you've been helping us all on the battlefield. It's a lot to ask of you. That's why I'm trying to make sure you stop and take care of yourself, treat yourself to something nice once in a while.
Listen, Mist. I know you and Ike are close, but if there's ever anything you can't talk to him about, I want you to know you can come to me. I may not be Elena, but I do care about you just the same.
I... I will... Thank you... That's very nice of you, Titania. Tee hee hee... Oh, this dress is too good for me...
Well, this at least explains where Mist suddenly got those new clothes. Now we just need to figure out where she got that horse from...
Earth/Wind: Avo +22.5, Hit +7.5
Hello, Kieran. Are you going to ask me to return to the Crimean knights again?
You guessed it! I'm a Crimean knight... and I'm very proud of that fact! No better friend! No worse enemy! A knight distinguishes himself in battle, returning in triumph to hear adulation from the people and praise from his lord! When you make your name as a knight, everyone knows you! The world is laid at your feet! And above all else, you can defend our beloved Crimea and her people with your own two hands!!
That certainly sounds nice.
It's better than the life of a mercenary, cavorting with outlaws and entering battles from which you never return! Why, Oscar? Why!? I just don't get it!
You're my archrival! That's an honor! I know your true skills better than anyone. If you say you will come back, I'll do everything I can to recommend your honorable return to the knights!
Heh. Thanks, Keiran. But I'm not returning. After joining the mercenaries, I had a chance to see the world. I saw grief with my own eyes. People subjugated by the powerful, losing everything and dying alone... Countries can't save people like that. It's up to men like us--men who are in the thick of the action--to aid those who cannot aid themselves. Besides, I have no use for honor. As long as I can defend the family called the Greil Mercenaries, I'm happy.
Bla... Blast! You've outdone me again! How can this be? I don't know why or how, but... I feel you beat me yet again!
You didn't lose. There are many things that a brave knight like yourself can do that we mercenaries cannot. So let's both do our best. We may stand on different sides of the field, but we aspire to the same ideal.
I see... Then I will ask you no more!! Watch me! When Crimea is fully restored, my distinguished services will resonate throughout the ages! You'll hear about it wherever you are! I'll make sure of it!
...Yes, I'm sure you will. And when I hear your brace tales, I'll toast your success!
D'awww... Kieran's finally started to see sense. I think. Maybe.
Water/Thunder: Atk +1.5, Def +3, Avo +7.5
Can I talk to you for a second, Mist?
Um... I don't really have anything to say... I... uh... just wanted to be with you. I'm kinda lonely. Tell me if I'm bothering you!
No! No! Actually, I was hoping to see you! 'Cause I'm... I'm kinda lonely too. I'm glad you're here.
...Oh, hey! Wasn't that something?
Yeah, it sure was! Um... what?
The Serenes Forest! The way that Reyson and Leanne sang and made those shiny lights and brought the whole forest back to life!
Y... Yeah... That was... sniff... sniff... Whaaaaaaaa!
Oh no! Jill! Why are you crying?
B-because... that made me understand... The l-laguz... aren't bad! I am! I was the one who was wrong! Wrong about... What I believed... Wrong about everything! Whaaaaaaaa!!
Oh, Jill, no! Don't cry! Don't... sniff... oh no! Whaaaaaaaa!
You stayed behind because you knew that, right? That's why you left the Daein army.
There's no way I can go back... I'm sure my father is ashamed of me... I'm sure he thinks me a traitor.
That can't be!
No father would talk about his own daughter like that! Ever! No matter how many times you fail, a father will smile and forgive and say "that's all right!" Besides... I'm sure he'd be happy to know that his child chose a path she believed in... Because a father wouldn't... A father wouldn't... Oh, Dad... ... Sniff...
Mist! Oh, Mist... I know... It's all right...
Father... Dad! ... Whaaaaa!
Mist, no! Don't cry! Don't cry, Mist!
... Whaaaaa... Sniff... S-sorry...
Mist... You make all of my worries go away when you're near me...
The world is hard. Hard and cold and... terrible. Even so, you make me... you make me want to keep going.
Oh, Jill... ... Sniff... Whaaaaaaaa!
I told you no crying... Oh, no... Sniff... sniff... Whaaaaaaaa!
Oh god it's like an infinite feedback loop of
Now that Ike's got his promotion, there's a small necessity we need to take care of.
If you've only heard of Ike because of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, then "Aether" is probably a familiar sound to you. And probably a pretty boring one, too! I mean, what's it even good for besides getting back on the stage? Everyone knows it's all about Ike's three-hit basic combo, that forward tilt, that up-smash, and the back-air, right?
If you're one of those people, then boy, you're in for a surprise when you actually see what this does.
Anyway, Ike's a shoe-in for our first Occult Scroll. We'll be using more (and probably voting on it (later!)) in time, but that can wait; for the most part, Mastery Skills aren't all that big a part of strategy, although some of them are damn nice to have around.
We spend some of our BEXP pile on an OK level for Rolf.
There's really nothing worth noting in any of the shops; although we've got another opportunity to Forge something, so that's an idea.
So let's take a peek outside!
Yes. The enemy should not yet be aware that we've come this far. We're going to launch a surprise attack and try to capture the wall on our first charge. Please wait for us at the base camp.
There's no need to look so worried. We're well prepared. And we've got you as our good luck charm.
Thank you for that, but... Do be careful, my lord Ike.
Hey, don't worry! This may be our first battle as an official army, but we've fought Daein many times. We're going to win. After all, I can't lose my very first battle as a snooty noble, now can I?
I believe in you, and I know that you will be victorious. Come back safe.
Hold a moment, my lord Ike! In the sky... something's coming!
Ah, Ike! Well met. It appears that you're getting ready for your first battle as Crimea's army.
And you're escorting the heron siblings back to Phoenicis, right?
That was the original plan, but... Someone here insisted that we follow you. Quite unreasonably, I might add.
You treated us with courtesy, beorc. We must act accordingly. Isn't that so, Leanne?
(Yes, Yes, brother.)
You said your name was Ike, correct?
You aided my sister and me during a time of danger. We herons hold courtesy in high esteem. We must repay our debt to you.
That's really not necessary.
We are practitioners of seid magic. We cannot fight, but we can imbue our allies with strength.
Unlike every single other one of these choices, there is actually a reason to consider refusing. A tiny, insignificant, not-altogether-convincing one, but a reason all the same. If you refuse, you'll instead be given a Renewal skill scroll, which will allow one unit to regenerate 10% of their maximum HP every turn. Handy, but... well, it's no Reyson.
You were lucky to find your sister; shouldn't you stay by her side?
Thank you. I swear on the honor of my clan to do all I can to strengthen your cause.
It's settled then. And you'll get aid from me as well. Janaff!
Right here, Your Majesty!
You'll go with the Crimean army and protect Reyson.
Leave it to me!
You, too, Ulki. All right?
Tibarn! It's too much, I cannot accept this.
I'm only sorry I can't do more.
Tibarn... I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
King Phoenicis, I will guard Reyson well. When Crimea is retaken, I will see him safely returned to you.
I will take you at your word. Your actions have created a bond of trust between yourselves and the hawk and heron clans. If you find yourself in a dire position, you can call on me. No matter what, I will fly to your aid.
Yes. Beorc and laguz... Beast tribe and bird tribe... There's no difference between us. We finally understand one another.
Yes, I think you're right.
Now, let's really get started! Everyone, move out!
Alright! Before we commence the usual festivities, we've got a few new buddies to meet.
Janaff, Ulki and Reyson have all joined us, so that's something to maybe get excited about.
Also deciding to brave the front lines is...
Tanith! Her stats are decent considering her somewhat overlevelledness blah blah blah, but look at what she's carrying! Look at this goddamn sword! Not only is it the most powerful sword we've got (besides Vague Katti), but it can attack at range! Not mentioned is that it technically counts as Wind damage with all the technicalities that carries - most notably, being effective against flyers.
Oh, but wait... it uses the Magic stat instead of the Strength stat to determine dama-
Um. Where were we? Ah, yes.
Tanith has a unique skill that was, I guess, supposed to be the topic behind that two-star conversation back then. Tanith can summon generic Pegasus Knights into battle to fight for us. The thing is, though, they're not terribly strong, and they don't gain experience, and there's never, ever, ever, any real need for them. So... yeah. How 'bout that.
Anyway! It's time for Voting Time!
We'll be bringing Ike, Mist and Rolf, and also introducing Janaff, Ulki, Reyson and Tanith. Since we're through the most drawn-out part of the game and I feel like celebrating, I'm leaving all six of the remaining slots open to voting, although I am calling the Thief Rule on this chapter, so, yeah.
Choose from Boyd, Oscar, Titania, Rhys, Soren, Mia, Ilyana, Marcia, Lethe, Mordecai, Volke, Kieran, Brom, Nephenee, Zihark, Sothe, Jill, Astrid, Gatrie, Makalov, Stefan, Tormod, Muarim, Devdan.
Here are several screens full of numbers:
You've got 48 Hours plus whatever.
Consider also voting on a Forge!