Part 43: Chapter 20 - Preamble
The kingdom of Daein lies on the northernmost edge of Tellius. Its coastline is bathed in the icy currents of the northern sea, and frigid winds howl inland with terrible ferocity. As a result, Daein winters are raw and brutal-- ice and snow scour the land, leaving frozen scars in their wake.
Through these blizzards, General Ike and the Crimean army press ever forward. Begnion's imperial senate may have lent Crimea troops, but even they doubt that the army can successfully fight off Daein. Yet somehow, Ike and company defy all odds and capture victory after victory. Embracing both Princess Elincia's dream of a liberated Crimea and the tragic history of his parents, Ike marches in grim silence.
With your permission, I'll begin an investigation to see if there's anyone suspicious among the troops... ... Ike?
Ike? Are you all right?
Hm? Oh, yes... Sorry. What is it?
Nothing. I was just giving you the standard update. Shall I put it off till later?
No, sorry, but can you start over from the beginning? I'll pay attention this time.
What's wrong, Ike? You look so sleepy!
I've... had a lot on my mind. I meant to sleep last night, but I was up thinking. Before I knew it, it was morning.
Listen, Titania... Can I just--
What's wrong, Mist?
Goddamnit, Volke. Had to wait until yesterday to explain we were carrying around a goddamn Macguffin, didn't you?
What? It's gone?
What am I going to do? It was my only memento of Mother--
Did you drop it? Or put it somewhere and forget? Something like that?
Don't cry. It's not your fault.
I said don't cry! I'll find it! All right?!
All... right... Sorry...
You are to begin immediately.
Yet, that's... General Petrine! If we do this thing, Daein will suffer.
It's for the good of the country. Besides, it's only one territory! Stop mewling like an old woman.
I hear you, and yet... If the goal is merely to stop the Crimean army, this is not necessary. The strength of my troops will suffice to--
The last idiot who told me that ended up on a corpse pile! Now listen to me, and listen well. No matter how passionate you are when you tell me you'll defeat Crimea, I'll never pin my hopes on a bunch of foreigners. All you have to do is stop their forward progress. That's all. My plan will accomplish this.
General Petrine! Do you truly think so little of us? It's true that we were born in Begnion and not Daein, but my men and I have been loyal to this country for eighteen years. We have spared no effort to learn all the proper manners and customs of this land. But now, after all of that, to be dismissed as a "bunch of foreigners..."
Where were you born? Huh? Where were you raised? Ha! This country doesn't need squatters like you! The only people Daein can count on in times of crisis are Daeins themselves! Everyone else is just gutter leavings!
So we're useless... Is that what you're saying?
You tell me, migrant! Why is it that your unit, which was trained to be an elite royal guard, is here patrolling this hick-infested backwater? The answer's clear to me! How about you?
Oh, I'm sorry... Am I offending you? Well, here's your chance to show us your worth. Halt Crimea's advance! If you are as skilled as you claim, you should be able to limit the damage to its bare minimum, should you not?
Hmph! Angry is a good look for you. I look forward to seeing the results of your work. Get going, outlander.
It's only recently that the citizens hereabouts have even come to trust us.
We have no choice but to obey. It's as the woman says. The only thing we can do is ensure the Crimean army is defeated as soon as possible.
Open the floodgates. DO IT NOW!
Know what I really don't like? Where this is going.
Uh, sure. Go ahead, please.
I don't care how the mechanics work. No matter how you slice it, Janaff (and Reyson) were the ones who made our victory possible.
Anyway, the real news here is that we are now rich as fuck thanks to all that loot we found last chapter. I'm told (though have never tested it) that if you refuse to hire Volke, you get to keep the 50,000G Ike borrowed to buy his "report" with, bringing your grand total up to 120,000G. But even with 70,000, we're basically set for the rest of the game from here on out. So long as we're reasonable with our spending, we'll be able to make some amazing Forges once the Silver tier unlocks, and in the meantime, we'll be able to buy equipment basically freely.
Time to get our Base on.
Hmm...? Have we met somewhere before?
Who are you?
And what would a "first-class" mage want with this army?
What's your problem? You look as if you don't believe me! Well, I suppose I can't hold that against you... It's not often you find beauty like this coupled with intelligence like mine. But it's true nonetheless.
A mage, huh? Well, I guess you can never have too many mages lying around.
...Lady, if you're so smart, why'd you go and learn knives instead of staves?
The goddess has seen fit to put the abilities of three people into one delectable package. Sounds like favoritism, doesn't it? ... Um... hellooooo? Are you listening to me? There's a beautiful woman talking!
Yeah, the point is that you want to join the Crimean army, right? How much are you planning to charge?
Well, aren't you the little businessman? Let's see... How does free sound?
Suspicious. What's the catch?
I like my fees to be based on performance. Watch how I do in combat, and make me an offer. Depending on what it is, I'll decide whether or not to grace you with my assistance.
You're not lacking for confidence, are you?
Of course not! I already told you, I'm a first-class mage.
Again with the silly questions.
All right, you're in.
What? Are you allowed to make decisions like that on your own? Perhaps I should speak to the general!
I am the general.
I've got something I want to ask you about.
If I can help, I will.
Your... Your ancestors... ... ... ... Forget it. It's nothing.
What? Is something wrong?
I apologize. Please let it go.
What do you mean?
We of the heron clan... If we choose to, we can read the thoughts of others.
However, this power is only available to us in a calm and peaceful environment. Here, is this desperate maelstrom of chaotic emotion, it avails me not. Energy here is warped and distorted.
You're so pale that it's hard to tell, but I think your face looks more wan than usual.
Pay it no mind. I'm... fine.
You've got nothing to prove. Why don't you stay off the battlefield for a while?
Ike! I'm fine, I promise. Please, do not give me special treatment.
As far as giving you special treatment goes, I don't really have a choice.
If anything were to happen to you, I'd be at war with Daein and the bird clans at the same time!
... I see. I came to repay my debt, but I'm really just being a burden. That was not my intention.
Hold on a moment! Who said anything about you being a burden?
I cannot engage in combat, so I'm nothing more than an obstacle in the field.
Reyson, no! That's absurd! Don't you understand how useful your abilities are? No one else can do the things that you can. You're irreplaceable. So if you're not feeling well and try to do too much, you may not be there when we really need you.
I'm of use to you, then?
That's what I've been trying to tell you. We depend on you, and that's why I need to make sure you stay healthy.
In that case... I wouldn't mind taking a short break. But you can call me anytime. I'll come right away.
I got it.
Time for another round of supports!
Fire/Water: Hit +2.5, Atk +1, Def +0.5
Hey, there's that big hawk laguz that joined our party. What's his name again?
Oh! Hey there.
Can I help you?
I thought you called me. Is that not the case?
Wha--? Are you talking about what I just said? You heard that?
Th-that's incredible! I was just mumbling, and you were all the way over there!
So. What do you want from me?
Nothing. I was just noticing your features. You have such an interesting face!
... Do you have a problem with my face? There's nothing special about it.
No, no problem! It's so tough! Manly! It's the best! I wish it was my face! Um...
Well, you seem... healthy. And you have good hair. For a beorc. I also like your large arms.
Oh, I have an errand to run. Good-bye.
Yeah, my arms are pretty tough, huh? You know what? I bet I'll get along with these laguz just fine! Yeah.
Thunder/Thunder: Def +1, Avo +5
Ho! You there! Halt!
Hey, did you hear me? I said halt!
Who are you?
I'll ask the questions, thanks. Hmmm... I haven't seen your face around here before. Are you a new recruit? State your name and unit.
I don't have time to answer questions from ignorant half-breeds.
W-what? What did you call me!? Hey! I'm talking to you, jerk!
Say that again... Go ahead. It'll be the last thing you ever say.
I'm not afraid of you, human! Crossing me is the worst decision you'll ever make.
You're lucky, half-breed. I'll let you go this time.
Pah! It's me who's letting you go. And don't forget it, human!
Fire/Earth: Atk +0.5, Hit +0.5, Avo +5
Do you have a moment, Prince Reyson?
Oh, you're the apostle's...
Yes, Your Highness. my name is Tanith, and I lead Begnion's holy guard of Pegasus knights.
What brings you here?
I wanted to let you know that the apostle has ordered me to keep you safe. She is quite sincere in her desire to help.
She seeks redemption for what happened all those years ago, does she? I have no need for bodyguards. I can protect myself.
I mean no disrespect, Your Highness, but even the youngest child in Begnion knows the heron clan abhors fighting. If you refuse to fight, how will you protect yourself?
That is my concern. Not yours.
I beg to differ. I am under imperial orders. I cannot abandon my duty, and so your safety is very much my concern.
Your beorc orders do not affect me. I have wasted enough time with you. Now excuse me.
His body seems so frail, but his will is strong. He's not going to make it easy for me to protect him. What am I to do?
Thunder/Wind: Def +1, Avo +10, Hit +5
Look, look, Uncle Shinon! Doesn't it look like a bow now?
I guess you could... categorize it as a bow. Maybe. If you closed your eyes.
So will you use--
No way! I don't want to die just yet.
Wha... Whaaa... Oh, fine! I'll just use it myself.
Oh, for the love of... Rolf! Wait!
Give me the bow.
Did you change your mind?
Yeah. I suddenly got this... uh... weird urge to take it.
Really? All right! Whooooo! Here you go, Uncle Shinon!!
Thanks. Um... see you later.
Wow, I bet Uncle Shinon will just love my bow! It'll be his favorite bow ever! But I wanna see him fire it... I know! I'll follow him. Tee hee hee! Here I come, Uncle Shinon!
Water/Heaven: Atk +1, Def +1, Hit +10
What is it, Mordecai? You seem upset.
Detest means hatred. Ignorant means dumb. Why do you hate your country? Why do you insult me?
You've been studying? Impressive. Listen, I didn't mean to say you were dumb. I just meant that sometimes, it's better not to know some things... Like what it means to hate...
Stefan, you do not answer my questions.
Since you've been studying so much, I've got another thing for you to look up. I'm one of the Branded. Perhaps that will explain why I detest my country and why ignorant laguz detest me.
Laguz... hate you? Because you are... branded? Stefan, your words confuse me.
...what's this now? C'mon, Mordecai, go look that up. It sounds important!
That's it. I quit! I can't take any more of this cr--
You should not leave a job unfinished!
Waagghhh! Where did you come from?
Devdan has been watching you... Mmm... Your wound has not been treated properly. You will get an infection.
Aw, it's useless. I rub it with vulnerary and dress it with a cloth, but it doesn't do any good. I just need a priest to mumble some magic words and wave a staff over it!
Grrrr! You are a fool! That makes Devdan upset!
You can't always depend on others for help. On the battlefield, you have to know how to take care of yourself.
I see... Hah! You do have a way with words.
Poor, lazy boy who knows nothing at all... Here, hand over that bandage. Devdan will show you how it's done.
Fire/Fire: Atk +3, Hit +15
Uhhh... Look, I'm really sorry. It looks like I pushed you a little hard.
No... I wanted to be a myrmidon. And I had fun... Well... before the cramps started. Oooh, the cramps... Yaaaaa...
Are you sure you're well? You've been running a fever for days! Are you really going to battle like this?
It'll be fine. I'm not overdoing it. I'll just support everyone from the rearguard. And I'll have you looking out for me, right?
Of course! I feel responsible for your safety. I always try to look out for you and make sure you're holding up. You know, I've been thinking for a bit... And... Um... And I've decided to stop believing in fortune-telling.
Well... maybe the fortune's meaning was just mixed up--
Hogwash! No more excuses! It's all a bunch of hooey! But hey, wait a second... "With white robes flowing in the breeze, your archrival rides toward you..." ...RIDES toward you... Could he be a mounted soldier and not a myrmidon?
You may be horse-riding material, Rhys. Yeah, that's it! Marching is a lot easier on horseback!? Wouldn't that be better for you?
What!? Me on h-horseback!?
Yeah! You wear white, too! Don't you think you'd look dashing on horseback!? Swing your staff from the top of a horse and I'll fight in style beside you!
Whoa... Hold it right there, Mia...
All right! It's settled, then! We've got to get you training!
Hold it! You've got the wrong guy...
No, I don't. We're destined to meet!
Yes! I can't think of anyone else that could be the man of my destiny!
D-destiny!? Wait a second... I thought I was your archrival!
Never mind the details! I am counting on you. Rhys!
Note to self: find out if Mist owns any white robes and confiscate them.
Thunder/Water: Avo +7.5, Def +3, Atk +1.5
Thank you for you generosity the other day, Mordecai... Nobody has ever done anything like that for me...
Do not thank me. We are friends. But you ate like a starved bear! A dozen of me could not eat that much mutton stew!
The food was delicious. I could have eaten more!
I would feed you again, but you ate through all my beorc money. Where do you put all that food?
Well... in my stomach...
You are like the furry little squirrels that live with us in the woods. Always stuffing food in their mouths. Half beorc, half squirrel. That's you.
Haha! Maybe you're right! Squirrels, huh? That's cute.
So... When do you hibernate?
Hibernate? I don't hibernate!
Water/Wind: Atk +1.5, Def +1.5, Hit +7.5, Avo +7.5
Stop ignoring me! Can we please talk? Please?
I don't blame you. I just wanted you to know that... Not everyone we run into evil. Some of them might just be caught up on the wrong side.
So I wasn't thinking about that? Is that what you mean?
We're not fighting targets. I know the difference. Targets don't squirm on the ground and gurgle in pain. Targets don't make the grass slippery with blood. I learned that lesson the first time I took a man down. They're fighters, just like us.
But there's a difference. They're trying to hurt the people I love. Anyone that tries that is an enemy of mine. That's why I won't hesitate to feather them. If I let even one of them live, they will do everything they can to kill one of our own. I... I'm afraid of that. I won't stop spilling blood until it's over.
I don't want you to die! I... I... I don't want to lose anyone else... ... Whaaaa...
I'm sorry, Rolf! I'm so sorry...
Whaaaaaaaaa... ... Sniff... Sniff...
I thought you had changed. You used to be such a sweet boy. I thought you'd turned hard and didn't understand about death. I'm sorry... I didn't understand how you felt. You've been so desperate to protect everyone else.
This will be over one day. I just want everyone to see that day.
Me, too, Rolf. Me, too...
Let's throw some BEXP around, since we're rolling in the stuff once again:
Doesn't seem worth it, but he only needed like 5 BEXP, so, there.
Strength and Defence make a wonderful "welcome to the level cap" gift.
Should we... weeeellll....
Not really sure what to make of this change, really.
I'm very much in favour of this one, however. In addition to all this, promoting to Swordmaster also grants Mia a passive +15 to Crit, so that's nice too!
Now, I believe Reyson managed to pick us up a little trinket in the last battle...
Fuck Yes. This thing is exactly as awesome as it sounds. It will allow any unit to use any remaining Move after performing an action. Most people stick this on Ike (and give him the Boots) and never look back. It's a solid plan. I don't really have a plan for what to do with this mission-to-mission, but I'm sure we can arrange a use for it.
Finally, let's meet our newest recruit:
Calill is pretty good for a mid-game prepromote. Despite her level, though, her stats are a little behind Soren's, especially in speed, and she can't use staves like he can, but she's got a couple of very important advantages, of which one is her very decent strength, which will allow her to use all but the heaviest tomes with minimal penalties - she makes a very nice go-to siege tome user, and she can make good use of the high-end regular tomes.
Another nice thing is that she comes pre-trained to B-Rank in all three disciplines of magic, giving her a lot of options, and allowing her to immediately use some of the nicer tomes. This highlights the drawback of Soren's use of forges - while very nice, and very light, they aren't much good for getting his ranks up. Also, Calill has the Nihil skill, which negates any skills the enemy has - great for some of the more tricksy bosses we could name.
There aren't any interesting things in any of the shops and we don't really need any new equipment, so...
Let's see what this mission has in store.
No. It's gone. I fear that Daein may have somehow stolen it.
What? Is such a thing possible?
I don't know to what degree, but there can be no questioning Daein's involvment.
Is the medallion... special?
... I beg your pardon.
What is it?
My question may have touched a sensitive area.
Oh, no... It's not that I don't want to discuss it with you personally. I just can't really talk about it to anyone. It's a private matter.
Ah, I see.
What is it, Ulki?
I hear the sound of rushing water just ahead. A lot of it.
That must be what you hear.
This is unnatural. Warped. It is not the sound of a normal river...
What? How can that be?
Perhaps a local river has flooded. The whole region is soaking wet.
Is the road completely impassable?
No, sir! We can move forward, but the water's turned the ground to mud. And the water is still flowing at a tremendous rate, sir! This is going to cut back our speed dramatically.
And they've succeeded.
Well... If they were able to flood the road only when we approached, there must be floodgates in the area.
So if we can close them, we'll shut off the flow of water, right? That makes sense. Let's get some scouts looking for gates.
What do you mean?
These peepers of mine can see for miles and miles. They're quite handy. It would be a shame not to use them.
Is that some laguz power? You're a hawk with the eyes of a... hawk?
It beats your fantastic wit! My eyesight isn't a racial ability, it's just my own natural talent. Heck, my pal Ulki has ears that can hear grass growing on the other side of the country.
I see. Well then, the job's yours. Do you think you can find the floodgates?
I just look for some openings with a lot of water pouring out, right? Yeah, I can handle that!
All troops! Combat formations! Hit them fast and hard! We can't let this battle drag out!
All right, let's get going!
Alright. We've got an objective to take, a load of guys in the way, a time limit, and some serious conflicts of interest, and eleven units to deal with it all. I guess we'd better call a Voting Time.
Our team will contain Ike and Mist, as usual. We've got a lot of fliers, so I'm inclined to bring Rolf. We'll be giving Calill a turn, and... well, against all of Ike's better instincts, I'm going to bring Jill along.
That leaves six spaces for you to do something with.
Choose from Boyd, Oscar, Titania, Rhys, Soren, Mia, Ilyana, Marcia, Lethe, Mordecai, Volke, Kieran, Brom, Nephenee, Zihark, Sothe, Astrid, Gatrie, Makalov, Stefan, Tormod, Muarim, Devdan, Janaff, Ulki, Reyson, Tanith, Shinon.
The Forge today is not up for voting - we'll be making a new lance since What? is on the way out. This lance will need a name, though!
Oh, and yes, I believe we should probably do something useful with our spare Occult scroll. Other units' Mastery Skills aren't quite as impressive as Ike's - in fact, some of them are pretty lame! - but they're good to have. The problem here, however, is that a lot of units have other, useful skills, that would need to be removed to make room for their Mastery Skills (which always take up 20 capacity).
As a result, this particular contest is limited to Oscar, Titania, Marcia, Mist, Rolf Volke, and Jill. The winner will be forced into our team for this map if they aren't already there.
Here's what each unit stands to gain:
Paladin/Valkyrie: Sol - [Skill]% chance to recover HP equal to damage done
Falcon Knight/Wyvern Lord: Stun - [Skill]% chance to prevent an enemy moving for two turns
Sniper: Deadeye - Passive +100% to Hit, [Skill / 2]% chance to send an enemy to Sleep (don't ask)
Assassin: Lethality - [Crit / 2] chance to instantly KO an enemy (someone clarify if this is the user's Crit stat or the actual crit chance per battle!)
The traditional screens full of numbers will now follow:
Voting will be open for some days. At least two, in any case.