Part 46: Chapter 21 - Preamble
During the battle for Talrega, Ike and the rest of his company come to a bleak realization. Wherever the Crimean army marches, the land becomes a battlefield. The damage is immense. Warfare and floodwaters claim homes, crops, and hope. Villagers seeking shelter and safety stumble blindly through the snow. To them, there is no doubt that the Crimeans are an invasion force.
However, the Crimeans have their own homeland to save. Focused as they are on that overriding goal, they cannot stop even to help the innocent victims of war. The only way they can help the people of Daein is to keep marching.
The faster they reach Daein's capital of Nevassa and put an end to the war, the better for everyone.
Yes, sir! We've sent many messengers, but we have yet to receive any sort of official response.
The Crimean army is on our doorstep... What is His Highness thinking? If we want to protect the capital, we need a leader equal to one of the Four Riders. Just in case...
Lady Ena! I don't understand how you're able to remain so calm!
Daein soldiers are the most elite warriors on the continent. In addition, our numbers are far superior to the Crimeans.
And, and yet they march on Nevassa! This is the Daein capital! If there's any danger of it falling into enemy hands, we can let nothing stop us from protecting it! No offense, Lady Ena, but as a general, I do not feel you're ready for such a vital command.
Th-then... When this command was given to you, why did you not firmly refuse?
Do you really think that wise, General? Would you refuse a direct order from the king?
...Let me tell you something that I've discovered. If we are... unable to hold the capital, I do not believe the king will be all that upset. Ashnard does not hold a strong attachment to the country of Daein.
What are you talking about? Do you... Do you understand exactly what it is you are saying?
Ridiculous! There isn't a monarch in the world who would not be moved by the loss of his own country! Such a preposterous notion is beyond comprehension!
General Kasatai. Do not avert your eyes from reality.
Reality? Ha! What reality is that? All I see is your guesswork.
As... as... sanctions for that nation choosing to ally itself with those evil and treacherous sub-humans.
On the surface, that would seem to be so. But doesn't the action strike you as odd? To apply sanctions properly, it would be necessary to speak with Begnion first. Begnion is the suzerain state, and Crimea answers to her. We needed Begnion's leave to make a formal declaration of war. Daein's disregard for that process made us a pariah in the eyes of our neighbors, and opened us to attack from all sides. And yet, not only did the king not do this, but he chose to invade without warning. It was the worst possible strategy.
And now he uses it as a stepping stone for an invasion of Gallia. Which means, the king's goal was never to apply sanctions, or even to defeat Crimea. If Ashnard moves against Gallia, it's easy to envision Phoenicis, Kilvas, and Goldoa joining the conflict. And if that happens, Begnion would be forced to ally itself with Daein rather than side with the sub-humans. Look where that leads us... A continent embroiled in war. Is that not the true desire of the king?
If... If you consider it in that way, your words do begin to make sense. Yet... to accomplish that, the citizens of Crimea would have to be sacrificed. That would be an act of madness!
Let's return to the topic at hand. The king has gained himself a new castle, and I believe he considers whatever land he occupies to be his kingdom. Daein and its people are already behind him. He need not look back.
Pah! If the king wished to rule the world, he would want as much military strength as possible! To forsake even a portion of the strength he currently possesses willingly, why, it would be sheer folly...
That doesn't matter. What's important is that we recognize the chance which Daein has been given. We must stop the Crimeans here. If we do not show the king our value, we are doomed. Make no mistake about it.
This is complete lunacy...
We will receive no reinforcements. We must hold nothing back. It is our only chance of survival.
This... I cannot... Why is this--
We will use it to weather this storm. However, to use it, I need you, General Kasatai. Your cooperation is imperative. If you want to win, you must trust me.
... Understood. In this time, let us cling to any hope we can find. Lady... No... General Ena, I place my trust in you.
Well, this just great. I guess I'll just stick it in the pile along with everything else I don't like the sound of.
Oh. It's you. Asshole.
What is it, Nasir?
Are you sure that you have enough soldiers to lay siege to the capital? Your opponent is called "Mad King Ashnard," after all. Who knows what sort of traps he has in store for you?
We're not invaders. We wouldn't lay a hand on the citizenry...
There's no way for them to know that. They do know what their army did to the people of Crimea, however. If they fear they will be punished for that, I'm sure they decided to err on the side of caution.
... You truly have no idea how to rule a nation. Do you know what happens to a country that loses a war? Everything is destroyed. Homes, land, crops... everything. And the citizens... They're not even treated as human. Crimeans, especially those near the capital where Daein's presence is strongest, are treated worse than sub-hum... than laguz.
That's... Why would they... That's horrible...
The people understand this, which is why they pay for protection in the form of taxes. For the royals and nobles who are charged with protecting the people, there is no greater sin than to be defeated in war. It is the ultimate betrayal of the people's trust.
Princess, be that as it may, the majority of people want to see the royal family restored to power. They believe that you will help them reclaim their old lives and restore peace.
Now it's time for us to throw down Ashnard and drive his army from Crimean soil. You're the only one who can do that. Do you understand?
Yes! I'm with you all the way!
I hope it all goes as planned. I will do my best to make it so.
This report contains the following surprises:
The people of Talrega were the enemy, yet you treated them with kindness. I don't know how to thank you.
Oh, the provisions? It wasn't enough, but I wanted to do whatever I could. It's nothing for you to worry about, though.
My, my lady! Is that you? Lady Fizzart?
You're... from Talrega.
That's right. I'm Sophie, from the village of Luma! I can't live there anymore, so I brought my two sisters here to the capital. After that battle, I was sure that you'd been claimed by the Dark Angel, just like Lod Shiharam. But here you are!
Is this your bodyguard? Ooo, so strong! You watch out for milady, you hear? She's Lord Shiharam's precious little girl! You keep an eye on her, and don't let those nasty Crimeans get near her!
Please listen to me, milady! We understand all about those floodgates! Lord Shiharam would've never done such a thing if he had any other choice! We know it was those Crimeans that did it! Why, when he wasn't on duty, Lord Shiharam and his men used to help us with the plowing and the planting. And once when my sister got sick, he loaded her up onto his own wyvern and brought her to the capital to see a doctor. He's the only one who ever cared about us country folk. He opened his heart to each and every one of us.
He... He was a good man...
Those dirty Crimeans are to blame! If they'd never come to Daein, that battle wouldn't have happened. And Lord Shiharam would still be with us.
You're going to be all right. I'll find you something to eat in a little while. Just be patient.
That soldier over there have me this. Can I eat it?
Don't be stupid! Throw that away right now! We'll starve to death before we take charity from Crimean killers!
Milady! The Crimean army is nearby! Run! You must escape and survive. We're gonna live. Even if we have to eat mud and weeds, we'll do it. And one day we'll have our revenge on those bloodthirsty Crimeans. If I can't do it, my children will... And if they can't, then my grandchildren will! We'll get them someday! I swear it!
... S-sorry. ... Oh, I'm so sorry...
Well... that sucks, I guess.
... Are you all right?
... We've come a long way, haven't we? Do you think we can beat King Ashnard?
Of course we can! We have to. If we lose, Crimea may never be rebuilt.
... What are we going to do, Brother? I'm... frightened... The medallion was my protection. Now that it's gone, my confidence has vanished.
For as long as I can remember, I would talk to the medallion like I was talking to Mother. After Father died, I felt like I was talking to them both... Where could it have gone?
We'll find it. And even though it's gone, Father and Mother are looking down on us and protecting us.
... You're right... I'm sorry. Father and Mother are in my heart, and I've got you and everyone else at my side.
"And anyway, have you seen my stats?"
That's the spirit.
Oh. It's you.
Oh, hi, Nasir.
You're right. I do feel a bit cold. Shall we go back to the tent?
Uh-huh! Let's go, Ike! You, too, Nasir!
Oh... Of course.
Shall we Support?
Earth/Thunder: Avo +7.5, Def +0.5
Um... Hi there.
Hello! ... Um... Nice weather today!
Can I help you with something?
No, not really. I'm just...
So, you want nothing from me then? What an odd fellow. Well then, I'll be going. I don't get these beorc at all.
Dang it, Oscar! You messed that up! Stupid! Stupid! Aw, how am I supposed to do this?! I've never dealt with these bird tribes before... But we're allies! We have to learn to communicate with each other... I'll do it right next time!
Earth/Earth: Avo +10
Oh, excuse me...
Did you just drop this cloth?
Oops. Yes, that's mine. Thank you for picking it up. I apologize for troubling you, Commander Tanith.
What is your name?
Silly me. I forgot to introduce myself! I am Oscar, of the Greil Mercenaries. It's a pleasure to meet you, milady.
Hm. I hadn't thought you were one of the mercenaries. That's quite interesting. I am here with only a minimal retinue, but I hope that we can demonstrate the greatness of Begnion's knights.
I am well aware of Begnion's reputation. It's an honor to meet the leader of such an esteemed force.
You're too kind.
It was a pleasure meeting you, milady.
Hm... Such a well-mannered young man. I always thought mercenaries were rude, crude, and vulgar men... Ike certainly has some fine lads under his command.
Water/Water: Atk +1, Def +1
I have a question, Ulki.
Yes? What is it?
The bird tribes fly the sky. How does it feel to fly?
Huh... I never think about it. It's just something that I do.
Hrrrrmm... I see. It is for you like running is for me. I have never flown. I wanted to know if it was different.
That's what I figured...
What kind of place is your home? Do you have to fly there?
Well... Even if you were to arrive by ship, Phoenicis has no ports and no docks. We have no need for them. Without our help, it would be hard for you to visit Phoenicis.
I see... That is a shame.
Do you want to come to Phoenicis?
I do indeed! I have met many beorc and laguz throughout this war. Our world is big, and I would see more of it.
You would, huh?
Wind/Dark: Hit +2.5, Avo +5, Atk +0.5
Hm? Hey. You there! Hold on!
Why is a pretty girl like you covering her face with an unfashionable helmet like that? The world should see your beauty! It's a travesty, I tell you! A veritable crime against nature! Oh, and where is your makeup?
Well, I ain't really... a makeup kind of gal.
...Ain't? Where are you from, missy?
I'm from... around.
Such an unsociable girl! Well, you can't fool Calill! I know why you're not much of a talker. You're embarrassed about your country accent and low speech, are you not?
H-how do you...
How do I know that? Well, I used to have a... friend with the same problem.
You? But you're from the city! And you're so--
Elegant? Yes indeed. Quite so. Oh, but I have an absolute splendid idea... I'll teach you to talk like a true lady! Having a rube like you around will just make me miss the city, anyway. I'll even show you how to put on makeup!
I... I ain't...
Tsk! A lady never says such things! I can see this will be a bit of work... Well, you leave everything to me, missy!
Light/Light: Hit +10, Def +2
I picked these beautiful flowers just for you!
W-what? You don't like them?
Oh, good! So you DO like them!
It's just that... Um...
... No good, eh? Then what about this broach? Isn't it fashionable? I picked it up at a quaint little curio shop I stumbled upon.
That's no good, either? Are you sure you won't take it?
Well... It's nice, but...
... Oh! So you love it, right? Just like you love big, strong knights?
Hmmm. She's a tough one to swoon. I'll just have to pour it on even thicker! There's no way I'm going to let such a gorgeous girl slip away!
You know, it occurs to me that Gatrie is probably the only person in the entire group who doesn't already know the one sure way to make Ilyana like you...
Heaven/Thunder: Hit +10, Def +1, Avo +5
How are you, Muarim?
I'm starting to feel more at home with this army. And I've finally gotten used to the curious looks from other laguz.
Curious looks? Muarim... you're hauling crates around! You should leave the supply carrying to the other soldiers.
I guess it's just in my nature. I don't want to leave the work to the beorc.
They're just like us.
So you think I have no pride as a laguz?
No... There was a time when I wouldn't have cared if they all fell off a cliff. But after joining Ike and his crew, I've learned that beorc and laguz can get along.
I don't know what to tell you. It seems like you've already given up.
I can't say I don't understand why. You must have led a difficult life. But... I just can't understand how you've abandoned your laguz heritage.
Wind/Fire: Avo +5, Hit +10, Atk +1
I have something to tell you, Nephenee.
AAAAH! Um... y-yes, Devdan?
You have that stern look again... You had better start to smile more... Or else! Remember what Devdan taught you the other day? You can laugh for no reason at all!
I'm trying! I promise! I really am... See? Um... Heh heh...
Trying? Oh, little one! All you have to do is to laugh like Devdan. Like this! Mua ha har hee ho hee hoo!
Well, it's... it's hard to laugh when you're sad... and... terribly frightened.
Nephenee always says things like that. Talking in such a quiet voice. It makes Devdan sad... and upset!
But more sad. Devdan once visited a village that was home to a girl like you. She was so good to poor Devdan... But one day, bandits came to the village... and they killed her.
She took herself too seriously. She should have stayed hidden with everyone else. Instead, she came out from hiding while Devdan was fighting the bandits. She thought she had to do something herself... That's why Devdan wants you to talk more, and smile more, too! One day... poof! It could be too late for poor Nephenee!
Um... C-Commander Ike! Titania? Anyone...?
What the fuck. What the fuck.
Wind/Wind: Hit +10, Avo +10
Oh... Where am I...?
What... What happened?
You passed out. I thought about just leaving you there, but that would have left a bad taste in my mouth.
I know it's not my worry, but aren't you pushing yourself a bit hard? You're having a rough time just keeping up with the pack. You're a wreck!
I had no idea... how cruel and unforgiving war would actually be. Gruelling marches... day in and day out. I can't sleep at night because I'm terrified of surprise attacks. It's made me painfully aware of my frailty.
Nobles aren't cut out for war. As you can see, there are no chambermaids to attend to your every whim out here! I'm sure you've got a lavish and free life waiting for you back home.
Lavish and free? Lavish, maybe... but certainly not free. I have no freedom.
No freedom? What are you talking about?
My parents have already chosen and arranged a fiancé for me. I've heard he is thirty years older than me.
I volunteered for service with the knights of Begnion to live on my own terms. Of course, my family vehemently opposed the idea, but they figured it was merely a phase. They thought I would come home crying. I won't give them that satisfaction.
...Wasn't trying to pry. Just asking, is all.
I know... Thank you.
Fire/Wind: Atk +1.5, Hit +15, Avo +7.5
Are you... training again, Kieran?
Oh, Rhys! Say, thanks for helping me out the other day! Who knew that head wounds bled so much? Of course, this one time a sellsword tried to jam hot coals inside my--
Please, Kieran! Stop! You have to think about your own safety!
Safety? Ha ha ha! I'm not a coward! Crimean knights fear nothing! Never! Why, not even the threat of merciless--
I know! I know, but... If something happens to you, it will ruin your reputation.
Your gravestone is going to say: "Here lies Kieran the knight! He suffered a massive hemorrhage in training and died cold and alone." Are you all right with that?
Hmm... Y-yes, that could be bad... Why, no one would ever remember the time that I fought the Mad Crocodile of Upper--
Please! Promise me that you won't do any more dangerous training.
Wha--?! Oh, that's a hard pill to swallow! But if I die in training before hitting the battlefield, it would be a shame... Oh, what to do...
We'd be in trouble if we lose you, Kieran! Er... Oh! Yes! You see, we can't achieve victory without our greatest soldier--that would be you--in our army!
I see. Yes, you're right! You're absolutely right! Our army's finest warrior cannot afford to push it too far! Very well. I'm not sure how this will work, but I will take better care of myself! From now on... simple training!
Phew... Thanks for your understanding. I'll come check on you from time to time. Remember! Take it easy!
Sure, no problem! Hmmm... I guess I'll just... sit down here and... knit... something... Ooo, look! A bear!
No, Kieran! Noooooooo!
Fire/Light: Atk +1.5, Hit +15, Def +1.5
I can't seem to focus today. I sense my foes out there, hiding in the trees and snickering at me! Haaaa! Take that, foe! You know, I haven't seen Ilyana lately. I hope she's all right. Hmm... Well, can't do anything about it now... I need to get back to practice. One... two... strike! One... two... stab! Hey! What was that? Ugh! What did I just step on? It feels... squishy.
Aaaack! Why are you on the ground?! Are you dead? Gravely injured? Perhaps slightly wounded?
Well? What's wrong?
I'm just... hungry.
Huh? Hungry? Why don't you quit your whining and have a biscuit?
So... hungry. Please... if you have anything...
Hold on a minute! Don't tell me you're always staggering around and fainting because you need a snack!
Yes... As soon as I finish eating. I get hungry again. That's why I faint.
Well, I don't have any food on me right now. I'll go get you something right away though. We can't have you passed out on the ground like this!
Please... don't leave...
Whoa there! Let go! Hey! Stop trying to eat my foot!
Mmmm... so... tasty...
No, no, no! I can't have you feasting on my limbs! Somebody bring this girl some food! Anything, people! Old leather shoes, fruitcake... anything!
Water/Water: Atk +3, Def +3
Oh, Mordecai. Is something wrong?
Have you seen your brother, Mist?
Oh, he's with Titania and the others. But I think he'll be here soon.
Ah. Do you... and your brother get along well?
I think so... I mean, just about as well as any brother and sister do, you know?
Ike is a good beorc. He was kind to me, even though we had just met. He is beorc, but I feel for him as though he is a brother laguz.
Ha ha ha. Yeah, he always has been a little weird, hasn't he?
Is that so? It does not matter. I am fond of Ike. Mist... I do not want you to laugh, but I would like to tell you something.
When I returned your scarf, my hand was shaking with fear.
You? Were scared?
Yes. I was afraid that I made you afraid. I was afraid that you would run. I... was afraid.
Wow... I didn't know that. Tee hee. It IS kind of funny. You and I have a lot in common, don't you think?
Yes. We share much between us.
Well, enough of that. Let's have some BEXP.
Mist gives us exactly what we've come to expect of her lately.
No complaints here. Let's shop!
Steel Blades show up in the armoury for what I believe is the first time. These will be the bread and butter of your sword-related ordnance from here until the endgame - Ike in particular can sure chew through them - so this is a good time to stock up. Y'know, what with us being stupid rich and everything.
Let's take a look outside, shall we?
That's not good. What are they planning?
Right. If we can't tell what they're planning, it matters not how we proceed. Let's just fight as we go. Move out! Keep your guard up, everyone!
OK... normal so far.
And there's Ena.
Enemy troops have entered the castle!
They're moving already? Such recklessness! Don't they suspect a trap? I can't believe they've fallen for it.
Crimea follows a general named Ike. Perhaps he follows no procedure. Perhaps he relies solely on instinct.
I don't know if he's brave or merely reckless. It's unbelievable...
Regardless, we continue as planned.
What could possibly allow us to destroy an army in one fell swoop... provided we can herd them here?
General Kasatai... No matter what I show you, do not be shocked. You must continue to trust me without question.
I swear it. On my name as a royal knight of Daein, I will not betray you, General Ena.
Ge-General Ena! You're...
General Kasatai! Have you forgotten your vow? No matter what happens, we will protect the capital, yes?
Ah... Ah... Yes, of course... I... understand. This is His Majesty's--Why he left you here...
Not so "sub-human" now, is she, asshole?
The Daein army is indestructible! We will crush the dogs of Crimea and use their skulls as goblets!
Glory to Daein!
Victory to Daein!
Titania! Where is Princess Elincia?
She's fine. She's with the supply convoy. They're all under very close guard.
Soren, is this the enemy trap?
If so, to what end?
Well, the goal obviously isn't to divide our troops and reduce our fighting strength. We're all packed in here together. Whatever they are planning, it appears that they want us all to experience it at the same time.
Daein must have something which they believe gives them an insurmountable advantage. Some kind of ultimate weapon.
So they're absolutely sure they'll win, is that it? King Ashnard of Daein... You'll regret underestimating us.
No matter what, we must be cautious. We can spare no efforts to protect the princess. We should put together an elite team and head for the throne room. Choose the members of this team with care. Everything will rest on their shoulders.
Chapter 21, ladies and gents.
We'll be working our way counterclockwise around the map, eventually spiralling into the throne room and possibly doing something about Ena. Along the way, there's gonna be a whole lot of looting to do. And there're a few persons of interest to deal with, too.
There's this asshole, for one.
He's actually statistically rather pitiful for a General, although he is toting a Brave Lance - a one-of-a-kind weapon that attacks twice wherever another weapon would attack once. So we probably ought to watch out for that.
Oh, and he has Wrath too. That could get ugly fast.
There's also this interesting looking fellow over here.
He's geared for battle in a big way, and he's gotten himself an Occult scroll from somewhere, too. And, to make matters worse...
Resolve is scary. When a unit's HP is >50%, Resolve will increase their strength, skill and speed by 50%. Jesus Fucking Christ, that's not something to take lightly. The really scary part is that Resolve can be stacked with Wrath on your units - many people deliberately withhold Aether from Ike just so they can put Wrath + Resolve on him instead. Needless to say, this guy could be trouble.
And, oh yes, there's the fucking dragon.
That she's using a Demi Band to transform takes a bit of the edge off her attacks - although obviously it means we won't be able to wait out her transformation time either. But, -2's or no, Ena's a big ball of HP and Defence and can hit very hard. Oh, and...
She's got skills, too. Renewal will restore 10% of her total HP (so, 5 HP) per turn. Miracle is the same Miracle Mist has (ie, [luck]% chance to reduce a lethal blow to half damage), although just you watch and see if she doesn't just so happen to activate it right when we need her not to. Finally, Boon will cure adjacent enemies of status ailments; although that doesn't really factor in to our plans at all, since we don't have any attacks that inflict those.
Stop! Voting Time!
We're allowed a fairly large team for this mission, since we're, y'know, sacking the capital of Daein and everything.
Ike's coming, of course, and I'd be bringing Mist even if she wasn't turning out godly. We're going to need Volke as well, and I have a feeling we're going to want Soren's backup healing capacity. Finally, let's preempt some inevitable votes and bring Nephenee, Jill and Astrid.
This leaves six spaces to vote on. You know what to do!
Choose from Boyd, Oscar, Titania, Rhys, Mia, Ilyana, Rolf, Marcia, Lethe, Mordecai, Kieran, Brom, Zihark, Sothe, Gatrie, Makalov, Stefan, Tormod, Muarim, Devdan, Janaff, Ulki, Reyson, Tanith, Shinon, Calill.
You may also want to vote on a Forge. Up to you (but no tomes).
You've got... uh... well, at least a day. Go!