I wonder what we'll be doing in this chapter.
Chapter 17: Hiring a Merchant.
: You seem a bit fishy. Any proof we can trust you?
: Of course, sir. I'm completely trustworthy...I've managed stores, supply camps, armories... You can count on me. I am Valencia's... no, Solum's finest merchant.
: Anakin, we'd best keep a look out for this guy. He looks pretty experienced, but he could be a thief, too.
: Oh, I'd never...
: Kelik, he will be fine. Liuke, we'll have someone keep an eye on you just to be sure though. I hope you don't mind.
: No, no, I understand... I would do the same thing under your circumstances...
: Great. We look forward to working with you, Liuke. We think you'll make a great merchant.
: Thank you. I shall take my leave now.
As you might recall, Liuke showed up briefly in Chapter 15's prep screen. That's because he originally joined the group in that chapter. Having him join here, almost exactly five minutes after the end of the last chapter, is just kind of bizarre.
: Yeah, I'm sure. What could kill a normal man won't kill me. We'll go through with the plan. Send me over to find Siegfried.
: Alright. Just don't do anything rash.
: I know, Anakin... I know.
At any rate, getting the tar beaten out of him seems to have mellowed Kelik a bit.
: He should be ready soon, in case it must be done.
: Alright then. You're dismissed.
: Thank you, sir.
As I said, we're pretty much going directly from the last chapter, so the Zeros had to have been slipping out during Kelik's embarrassing encounter with Fenix. This just doesn't make sense.
: He's supposed to stay alive but it's times like these that leaders like me have to make the best decision for the future. Of course, I don't actually want Siegfried to be executed, but when I don't take action, the higher-ups do it for me... So all I can do now is hope that those rebels get here, and fast. If they get close enough, I think I'll join them myself. It's about time I attack Magnus from the inside out...
No, no, keep going. I think that one of the soldiers over there didn't hear you muttering your secret plans to yourself.
: Are you their leader?
: Something like that.
: Then I will ask you directly. Please surrender, and no one will get hurt.
: It's not that simple. Otherwise, I would. I'm only acting as captain because of some special circumstances.
: My name is Lyam Farros. Listen--Siegfried is in a special prison in the center of this castle.
: You see, I'm not really a Magnian soldier. I am a mercenary from Blaine. And I've been hired to stop Magnus's army. Infiltration and sabotage is not how I like to work. But the situation left me with little choice. I don't have the power or the authority to save Siegfried. Though I have managed to delay his execution with subterfuge. You're going to have to fight your way through to the throne room. When you get close, I'll hit them from within, and then we'll win this. Just make sure you save Commander Siegfried in time.
You know, if we're going to have this paragraph of information, why did we have the last one? We pretty much went over everything we learned before.
: Wait...Then... you're a good guy?
: Pretty much. I try to do right by people.
: I didn't know people like you existed. Well, we'll do as you said. If you're telling the truth, then we'll see you at the throne room.
: I can't stand traitors and back-stabbers. I'm not going to go back on my word.
: Alright... I hope this works, then. Thank you, Lyam.
For lack of an actual boss, this map has a slightly different gimmick to it. Notice up there that Shon and Kelik are in a space all by themselves. They have a certain amount of time to reach Siegfried's cell before the executioner arrives. Not much in their way, but thanks to that red square there, it is possible to waste time long enough for it to happen.
Just as with Merlinus, we'll have an opportunity to deploy Liuke every chapter, and he'll automatically level up until he gets a couple of horses. FE7 deploys the merchant/transporter outside of the regular party, so even when he promotes, he won't take up a party slot.
Oh, and don't worry about protecting him either. Blazer doesn't tend to spawn reinforcements in a place where Liuke would be in danger, so for the most part, we can just set and forget him.
As Lyam hinted, we have nothing to fear from him. Even better, he comes with a free Hero Crest. Notice also that he's a Ranger instead of a Nomad Trooper, and he actually has the Ranger animations from FE8. It's a minor detail, but it's still rather nice.
And as we start the chapter, it's time for another character.
: Wha-Who are you?!
: I'm Mark. I'm a carpenter and shipwright.
: Why are you here? Are you a local or something?
: No, nothing of the sort. I want to join the rebellion.
: So suddenly... Is there some reason?
: Three years ago I lived in a developing region between Yulia and Clepto. I left my village on a mission, but when I returned... It was burnt to the ground. Until recently, I had blamed it all on bandits. But now I figured out that the true culprit is Magnus. They used money and bribed the bandits to attack my home... They hoped that we'd try to take our anger out on the bandits, and not the real instigator, the Empire of Magnus. So on behalf of my village, I'd like to fight back. And it's not about revenge... It's about making sure that no one else's home ends up being destroyed in a tragedy like mine was.
How will beating Magnus protect your village from bandits?
: I see... You've had some hard times. Now I understand why you came here. This makes my decision much easier. I mean, I can't really say no to you now, can I?
: Right now, nothing would please me more than to club some Magnians.
: Alright, but don't over do it!
Okay, fighting. Fighting I understand.
Our first axe user who isn't a hero, and we're more than halfway through the story. Mark's okay, but he can fall prey to speed deprivation. Problematic.
We'll have to tread lightly with Shon and Kelik, since there are mages aplenty in the general area of that thin corridor. We'll take it very slowly and go through when there's an opening.
Don't be concerned about these generals. They are nothing compared to Roarik.
Purposely attracting this mercenary over so I can defeat him without getting hit by mages. Kelik could take it, but probably not Shon.
Still, his A rank in swords gives him an edge in fighting.
I don't even know.
As we make our way through the corridors, we'll be constantly assailed by enemy troops. Not especially difficult ones, but they're there.
Ah, Emblem Blade. What did we even do without you?
Blazer, whatever impetus you had for giving Althares a natural crit bonus, I love it.
Okay Kevin, show them what a true knight is like.
Ben, be a good mage masher and mash mage.
Those generals really didn't last long, did they?
In retrospect, I should have probably given Shuuda an Iron Sword so he didn't waste this one, but I love big numbers too much.
More speed and strength for pounding things into the ground. I like it.
Just another case of Blazer trying to introduce redundancy into the game. I can appreciate that too.
You know, for an archer, you're rather bad at hitting things.
Good thing we've got Karina.
While assisting Kelik through the corridor, Shon happens upon the secret store in this level.
Very nice selection, though if you actually spend that much money on the crit lance, you're an idiot.
And I don't see a point in the future where we need to wear something down with poison damage, especially since thrones cure status effects.
Anyway, let's get some proper looting done here.
Excellent! That'll help Zach quite a bit. In addition:
This may have been obvious with Lyam, but right about this point in the game is where Blazer starts just dumping promotion items on us. Coincidentally, a lot of our units are close to hitting Level 20 right now.
If worse goes to worst, we can make Ben a flying version of Kevin.
So many stinking mages though. It's getting obnoxious.
I suppose it's to make up for our own stinking mages.
I could have attacked this guy during my own phase, but I didn't want to risk having my work undone.
What a weird troubadour.
Following the mages, we move on to mercenaries. Easily dispatched.
Also, there's a swarm of fighters on the way.
The knight standing guard outside the door had a chest key, so now we can rescue Siegfried.
I feel like I may be using Cia too much.
But with that speed, can you really blame me?
More freakin' mages coming in from the left. That's obnoxious.
Okay, for real this time.
: Shon! How did you...?
: Kelik's been helping a lot. He's strong. This knight Levion who works for him though is even stronger.
: So Kelik's the one doing all of this?
: And Anakin, too. I... I'm going to focus on the battle now. I've brought you your sword, but rest easy, I'll protect you.
: Perhaps I... have neglected my duties as a Dad... In trying to succeed in this war... Shon...I'm sorry...
In addition, you've also neglected your social skills, your rationality, and your hygiene, but let's just focus on the parental issues for now.
Obviously, Kelik can also recruit Siegfried, and it's actually a little more touching.
: Hey there, Sieg.
: Ah, Kelik. It has been a while. Why aren't you at Alexia?
: You know why I'm here. I shouldn't have to tell you that.
: I guess so. Here I was, hoping you'd be less cold towards me...
: Whatever. Shon gave this to me. He told me it was for you. I figure it's your weapon.
: ...Nothung. You have my thanks. By the way, that injury...
: It's nothing really... It's been healed already. I still need to naturally let it recover though. We can talk about this later though. We'll quietly wait here until Anakin finishes up taking the castle. It's too dangerous to do anything else right now.
: Do you really think Anakin can do it? Can he win and retake this castle?
: Yeah... Anakin is strong. He can do it.
Aww! He thinks that Anakin is a tough guy! Not that he'd ever admit it to Anakin directly.
Either way, Siegfried gets the Nothung back. Now we can finally get back at all these annoying mages once Siegfried isn't stuck in a sequestered section of the castle.
Jeez, Anakin! It's like you and Shon are in a race to see who can be more mediocre.
These fighters are so pathetic that Zach can double them with the Rifle Bow.
Wish he'd get more skill, since his hit rate is mediocre.
I said Zach, not you guys!
I'd like to make this more interesting, but frankly, these guys are sad.
I guess it's appropriate that Ben would understand how important defense is.
This guy is basically our time limit for this level. If we'd taken too long, this would happen instead:
: This is it, rebel. Your time is up. The execution date has been cut a little bit early for you.
: ......Forgive me, Shon...
Instead, we get to beat the snot out of a relatively powerful soldier.
To great effect!
Doubling mercenaries. Ah yeah!
I don't even care that this is all he's getting. He's getting super strength.
Still the weirdest troubadour.
Two things I want to show off here. First, Ben is really powerful against mages at this point.
Second, Lyam has picked this moment to make his move from enemy to NPC. I don't think it's even possible to attack him.
More treasure in this treasure room.
And I'm not just talking about the treasure.
Before we end this chapter, Mark has a convo with Shuuda, Inanna, and Corben.
: Yo, short time no see, no?
: You're the one who rescued us! What's your name?
: My name's Mark, but I'm just another soldier, really.
: I can't say that. I wouldn't be fighting here if you hadn't shown up.
: Heh, don't think much of it. My village was around here, once. I know the area pretty well.
: Oh, so that's it? Well, still, we owe you quite a bit. I'll introduce you to our commander Siegfried later, alright?
: Oh, I'd like that, Shudda.
: It's Shuuda...
To be fair to Mark, at least in his case, he might have only heard Shuuda in passing. Not trying to excuse Blazer using the same joke twice, but it's plausible at least.
Too bad I didn't bring Inanna and Corben, but here are their convos anyway.
: Oh! You...
: Hey there.
: You're the one who rescued us! I'm so glad you're safe!
: Hahah, think nothing of it. It was my pleasure.
: Oh, we owe so much to you... You never even told me your name!
: I'm called Mark. Just plain old Mark.
: Thank you, Mark. If I can ever do anything for you, please just ask.
: I may very well take you up on that offer!
: Ah, Mark! Good to see you!
: Corben! You're doing well, aren't you?
: Pretty much, yeah. Thanks a lot for back then. I wouldn't feel right if I didn't have my horse with me...
: To be honest, I'm not much of a horse guy, but... I know you knights need them pretty badly. The stable is pretty unguarded, so it really wasn't a big deal. I'm just glad that they happened to keep yours, of all the ones...
: Me as well. Still, I owe you one. If you ever need a battle partner, let me know, Mark.
: Oh, so Corben's quite the fighting guy! I'm not much of a sparring guy myself, though...
I think that Corben would wipe the floor with you.
So...Lyam might have not thought this whole plan through.
I mean, they can't kill him, but how's he going to defeat Magnus from the inside if people know he's a traitor?
I think I might actually have to keep giving Ben a chance.
Lyam, what are you doing?
Dude! That sword was droppable!
Like I said, we're just drowning in promotion items.
Very useful for Mark, or I'll just toss it to Asch.
Saving this steel lance from Lyam.
If we don't want to use the Hammer, we can always try to attack at a weapon triangle disadvantage instead.
: It seems that you're not on Magnus's side, at least.
: I'm looking for a man named Ivan. And the reason I took this job was so I could find him.
: Huh? Why's that?
: ...He fights for Magnus. If I follow you, we will likely cross paths. And I will be able to fulfill my contract.
: Oh... I see then. So you'll join us?
: Yes. My blade is yours.
Okay, so he's an agent of Blaine who's on a mission to simultaneously hunt down a man while infiltrating Magnus? Lyam just gets more and more confusing.
Much as I'd love to train up Anakin some more, we're on a 17-turn time limit if we want to reach the Gaiden. Shame, that.
Watch this, you fool!
: No, it's not that. You just haven't called me "Dad" in a really long time.
: Oh... I'm sorry...
: Shon. There's no reason to be sorry.
: O-Okay... I just... I was worried about you being in the cell all alone... But if you're sure you're OK, then...
: Shon, I'll be fine. Everything will turn out alright. Believe in me, alright?
: ...Alright... Dad.
I feel my enthusiasm for the future draining already.
: Thank you for not only continuing the rebellion, reliberating territories, and rescuing me, but thank you for taking care of my son. I've heard almost everything that has happened since my capture.
: You're welcome, Commander. But don't feel like you owe us anything. You've done plenty for us, Atheya, and Valencia yourself.
: No, I would rather not hurt your pride like that. Now, Kelik... What are your plans?
: What do you mean?
: Are you going to stay? Or will you and your mercenaries cede from the rebellion?
: Hm? Have my mercenaries and not been loyal enough? We're staying, of course. I won't be able to get very far working alone. To defeat an army, we need an army.
: That's good news. I'm glad you've changed, Kelik.
: ...I haven't changed.
: Oh, alright... My apologies, then.
Seriously, it might just be comparing him to Siegfried, but Kelik has somehow gotten more tolerable. This is shocking.
: The battle plan, then. Our next major stop is Aegis. Castle Aegis is likely to be guarded by a large Magnian force, with units stationed in the castle and near Fort Darner. Fort Darner is quite close to Castle Aegis.
: We'll have to take both places in one fell swoop.
: Exactly. The final portion of the Magnian forces protects the fastest way into Aegis... The Gilamar River.
: We won't be able to cross that very easily, will we?
: Of course not. However, Gilamar is a bit more like a long and narrow lake than it is a river. They'd have a hard time fending us off if we attack in one concentrated area. I would think the best place would be... Right here, at Fort Rohns.
: Sounds like you've thought this one through, Kelik.
: A day attack would be near impossible with their numbers. But at night, it'd be difficult to find our way through the river, and furthermore, we could easily be ambushed.
: I have an idea for that. There are a bunch of pirates who are working with Magnus. Magnus has bribed the pirates into their service.
: Magnus does that a lot with bandits and pirates, don't they...
: Yeah, they do. With their monopoly over the Western Archipelago, they have tons of resources at their disposal... including money. Anyway, we could take their ship and get them to navigate us across the river.
: A ship, across a river?
: Well, remember, it's more like a lake, and it wouldn't be a large ship. It may sound awkward, but it's been done before.
: So we'd have to force them to give us a ship...
: ...Make them take us to the other side...
: ...Unload everyone and travel to Fort Darner...
: Then move on, and recapture Aegis.
: We don't have much a choice. We'll use pirates.
Was the mind reading really necessary? It makes the dialogue sound even more canned.
: One group of pirates hasn't sold itself to Magnus just yet.
: That sounds promising. We might be able to get them to help us... Without using force.
: Hm... If we can, we should avoid stooping down to their level. Levion, your knowledge is invaluable. Let us see how this fares...
Next Time: Anime cameos. Seriously, Blazer?
Weapon Ranks: None. He's a freakin' merchant.
HP: 25 (125%) Lck: 15 (110%)
Str: 0 (10%) Def: 12 (35%)
Skl: 5 (70%) Res: 5 (25%)
Spd: 10 (90%) Con: 25
He's a merchant. Moving right along.
Weapon Ranks: C in axes
HP: 35 (80%) Lck: 7 (30%)
Str: 13 (55%) Def: 7 (25%)
Skl: 10 (45%) Res: 2 (20%)
Spd: 10 (40%) Con: 12
I'd like to say that Mark is going to turn out okay, but in the times that I've played this hack, I've never seen him get an adequate amount of speed. He might turn out okay, but if he isn't fast enough to avoid being doubled, his defenses won't be enough to protect him.
Weapon Ranks: A in swords and bows
HP: 42 (80%) Lck: 12 (35%)
Str: 17 (40%) Def: 13 (30%)
Skl: 15 (55%) Res: 10 (20%)
Spd: 16 (55%) Con: 11
Lyam's not that bad, actually. If Storm or Zach don't do it for you, he can always fill in instead, and he'll do it quite well. Lyam's the first of many prepromotes that are quite useful in a pinch, since he starts well and can be good with his growths too. I've taken Lyam to the endgame before, and it works out fine.