Well, last chapter was dull and randomly referential. Let's just get back to the plot.
: Everyone in this unit is ready to attack.
: That's good. A few of our main unit should go and support them as well.
: But if we do that...
: If we do that, then that makes us weak? I don't think so. One of us is stronger than five Magnians put together. Our resolve is stronger, our determination is greater. These things help decide the outcome of battle.
: You're right. Sorry for questioning, dad. I'll go help prepare the ballistae for our side.
Of course. How silly of him to question his father's decisions.
: A month in prison... and now I'm back to war.
There's a lot going on with this chapter. Not only is it jam-packed with enemies and NPC allies, but we've also got sixteen units we can field. Not only that, but we've got two seize objectives, and a boss on each.
Ethan is completely unmemorable, which is shocking, considering his design. His lance is effective against sword fighters, hence the name, but that's stupid, since we shouldn't be sending sword fighters at him anyway.
We've got an actual shot at Howard now. No jokes or fakeouts. This will be the last time we fight him, though it won't be easy. He's packed to the gills and excellent in almost every way. We'll have to be careful when fighting him.
: Yes, what is it?
: We're ready to come in and reinforce at any time! However, with the second unit currently engaging the enemy alongside your main unit, I think it's best to wait.
: Yes, you guys would have a hard time moving out like that. I'll talk to you as soon as I need some reinforcements. Standby until then, got it?
: Yes, sir!
Indeed, if we talk to the allied commander with Anakin within the first seven turns, we'll have an opportunity to restock our NPC's, plus another character. But as he said, we'll want to wait, since the game can't spawn units on top of one another, so the reinforcements won't come in until the current NPC's leave their starting location.
: Simply fighting them is an insult to the greatest nation there is! Show them the might of Fort Darner, men!
Darner is a funny name.
There might be a lot of enemies, but they're not that strong. Most of them can be one or two-shot.
I'd obviously like to take down the archers as soon as possible.
Except this first turn or so is determined to hurt me.
Fortunately, the enemies like to prioritize NPC's, so we're mostly safe from harm for the first couple of turns while the NPC's get slaughtered.
Except for this guy.
I don't know how or why, but this fellow refused to get killed.
It helps that he's got an Elixir to keep himself alive, but seriously, look at all those guys trying in vain to take him down.
Otherwise, we've got a couple decent levels from counter-killing.
Hey ballista guys! Stop stealing my kills!
Man, the Legend Mercs are ridiculously strong right now, thanks to their supports.
Oh well, let's take care of Fort Darner.
Unfortunately, Kevin can't hit, but that's okay, since he can just tank all day.
I guess that Cia can just deal with him.
Go Anakin. We have to get him to Level 20 before the end of this chapter, because Blazer loves springing surprises on us.
You're a knight. She's a mage. What did you think would happen?
She and Althares have a lot in common.
Up top, the cheeky devil is still refusing to die.
: For your sake, we will fight. That which we have conquered must not be so quickly reconquered...
Too bad, Howard. We're already halfway there.
I suppose I should mention that since you have to have both fortresses captured, the game will force you to run Anakin back down here if you forgot to take Fort Darner.
Sure, let's just throw Karina right in there. What's the worst that could happen?
She could counter her way to an okay level, that's what.
Though it was a pretty close call.
Of course Cia can go toe-to-toe with a Sage. She's Cia!
Still not dead!
I think we've let our first batch of NPC's get slaughtered enough. Time for round two!
: We'll gladly engage the enemy from all sides immediately!
: Heh, sounds like everyone's in high spirits. Let's just hope we don't suffer too many casualties.
Not only are there NPC's coming out of every crevice, but where the gutsiest mercenary is still fighting, we find...
Another member of Siegfried's old crew.
: Ah, my sweet little Magnians! Noah the Benevolent will now make his grand entrance into the battlefield!
: He's all alone! Get him!
: Hey now, don't be like that! You're not mad 'cause I'm pretty, are you?
Noah's a little unique, actually. Because of Blazer somehow managing to mess things up, he gets auto-leveled in his return appearance, so he'll show up differently every time.
Oh, and if the world's greatest mercenary hadn't moved, Noah would have been wiped from existence, because his spawn location is right on top of where the mercenary starts. Good job, Blazer.
I have fun using Cia, and I have the means to promote her too.
You know, I think Shon might actually be better than you right now.
And I know that Althares is.
Coming to the rescue, friend!
Shuuda wishes that he was as awesome.
Let's get to looting.
: That was when Aegis was initially taken over. I doubt he's alive, but... if you could confirm, it'd ease our hearts. And if he could be saved, then you would eternally be our heroes.
Get it? He said heroes!
And since I forgot to do this at the start of the level...
: You have our full-fledged support, liberators. We know that Magnus has lost any dignity it might have had... They may very well raid us and pillage our village, like bandits. We don't want to get in your way, so we've hidden most of our people. There is no need to worry about us. The village elder is sick, so on his behalf... I'd like to give you this ring. Use it on a courageous mage, to grant them wisdom and power. Please, take it.
We also get a Guiding Ring, or whatever the game calls it. This village is loaded.
If you want to be a physical fighter, then be my guest.
There's a reason why I'm rushing Cia forward, and not just because she's awesome.
Although that never hurt.
Matter of fact, she draws so much ire that she manages to level twice.
This is gonna be great.
I can't believe that this guy is still going.
Just demonstrating the special sword here. The Divine Sword grants +2 defense and does a long-range magic attack. It's only limited by its durability.
You might have noticed, but there are three factions here: Magnian, Fort Darner, and Howard's Unit. The latter is incredibly powerful, but still fairly easy to beat if ganged up on.
Look out! It's 54 damage!
Good thing he finally got speed.
So as you recall, Cia got rescued by Howard. Now it's time to return the favor.
: It's you...
: You're... you're a Magnian?!
: Yes. I am General Howard. Why are you surprised?
: You... you were so kind before. You helped me escape... I... I can't believe you were a Magnian...
: Have we of Magnus become so pitiful that we cannot be humane? I could not bring myself to kill a young girl...
Considering how everyone acts towards Magnians, you'd think that, yes.
: I... I was just...surprised. But you're not a bad person. So why are you with Magnus?
: I serve His Majesty.
: That's it?
: Your name is Cia, correct?
: Um... yes...
: You and your friends should not have come. It was not my intention to murder a group of rebellious kids...
: Why don't you just surrender? Then no one would get hurt. We're just trying to bring peace back to Solum! This war... it's... it's just... so mean... Why continue?
: I told you. I fight for His Majesty.
: Is that worth fighting against everyone else? So many Magnians have died knowing what they were doing was wrong. You know what you're doing is wrong, so... So why do it...? You... *sniff*... you saved me...
: I'm pathetic. You're an enemy... There's... *sniff*... no point... in trying...
: Stop crying...I... can't bear it...
This may have seemed pointless, but having this conversation has caused a major change to take place with Howard.
He'll still fight Cia, mind. The effect we've achieved won't become apparent in this chapter.
Speaking of hidden stuff, Shon has a personal bone to pick with Howard. That's right, we've reached the last step in his highly convoluted quest to become a man.
: ...Forgive me? I do naught by his majesty's bidding, young squire...I need no forgiveness from a child.
: I'm not a child! I-I'll make you eat those words!
No, I don't know how being a defensive whiny prat is the last step in Shon's journey towards manhood. You don't even need to beat Howard, just survive a fight against him.
Stay lame, Shon.
Fighting Howard with Shon also gets us the second secret.
Is Blazer trying to make a book of inspirational sayings?
Naturally, other characters also get a quote against Howard.
: We meet again, Commander Siegfried.
: Ready your blade, general.
: You'd do well not to make the same mistake twice.
: This time will be different from the last.
I didn't bring Siegfried, because he made me sad in a prior attempt at this map. Now then, Anakin:
: This is the first time we have met, I think. I'm Anakin, one of Siegfried's companions.
: I am General Howard of Magnus... I live and fight for the Emperor of Magnus.
Simple. How about Kelik?
: Howard. Last time we met, I was forced to run.
: ...Have the tables turned...?
: Perhaps. I know better than to underestimate an Emperor's former bodyguard. At the very least, I'll put up a fight you won't forget!
And now it's time for power leveling. We absolutely have to get Anakin to Level 20 before the end of the chapter.
This gives me a chance to get Emma to Level 20 too. It's going to be a tossup as to whether to run Tamiko or Emma as the primary healer. It all depends on whether we want more Light magic or Anima.
So...are you ready?
Sheesh, he was doing so poorly at first, but now look at him.
And now we seize.
: "Louis", huh... So the Emperor of Magnus finally gets a name... I mean, come to think of it... We don't even know why this all started. I guess one day, the old Emperor must have died, and his son started a war...
: Mhm. That makes him the bastard that started this war. I wonder what other shadows lie behind the curtains of Magnus, making decisions and planning the downfall of this continent.
: Emperor Louis... isn't... evil...*panting* You... don't know... what... he's been through... Urgh...
Yes, that *panting* is in there. I don't even know.
: We'll hunt you down as far as we need to!
: If you just take the battle inside, nothing will change. More people are just going to die, aren't they?
I love how the secondary character position switches out. They just kind of jump in, and the same text bubble gets shared among them.
: Howard... How many lives are you willing to throw away before you're satisfied?! Is the existence of other humans so meager?! Just surrender already!
They didn't even tie him up?
: Dad, is something wrong?
: No. That General just bothers me. Last time I fought him, I sensed pure conviction and loyalty. Now, he seems... changed. I can't explain it.
: Even so, there's no denying that he is in the wrong.
: Siegfried, you might be right. But right now, we have to push forward. We can always settle things with Howard later. Just be careful.
: If he gets in our way, we'll have to kill him. But otherwise, I'd like to interrogate him first. He probably knows a lot of confidential things.
: Yes, you are right. We shall worry about him when the time comes.
Alternatively, there's a different snatch of dialogue if Cia didn't give Howard a talking-to.
: Let's go after him. He's in no condition to fight right now, but he could be a nuisance later.
: There's nothing to worry about, Kelik. Howard has nowhere to run, and he won't defeat us alone. More importantly, we have to clear out the insides. Tell the soldiers left outside to hurry up and join the fight in here as soon as possible.
: Right away, Dad!
And now, we go inside.
: When this battle is over, I'd enjoy a nap here.
: You deserve it, Anakin. You've done a lot. Which is why I have something for you.
: For me?
: Yes. I took it from Yulia before we left. It was once given to a local hero of Valencia named Alexis. He would help the common people in anyway he could. Even more than that, he didn't hurt the nobles in the process.
: That sounds like quite some hero.
: My story isn't quite finished. You see, he helped Valencia flourish, but he was a common man himself. Although it wasn't like him, he took on the title of a noble. This way he had the status to lead his people and eventually form his own territory, which is now called Alexia, named after him.
: So Alexis was granted nobility for his actions?
: Yes, and also so he would have the status needed to communicate with other nobles.
Because apparently, you have to be blueblooded to accomplish anything of worth.
: Alright, I get it. But where are you going with this?
: This seal was given to him to mark his nobility. And now I will give it to you.
: Siegfried, that...isn't necessary. I'm not any knight in shining armor. I'm just a person from the streets who knows how to use words well... And my skills stem from "motivating" people to give me money. It was nothing good. Just begging. I'm not worthy, and I don't need it.
: By that same logic, neither was Alexis. Please, Anakin. For everyone else's sake.
: Sigh... alright. I'll take it. I don't know why you're doing this now of all times, though...
: I knew I could rely on you, Anakin.
That's right, a mandatory promotion completely out of nowhere. Thanks, Blazer!
Nice duds, but the promotion gains could use work.
I don't know if this is worth it, since barding tends to be more helpful in most circumstances.
: A heaven seal is quite special. It unlocks one's full potential.
: I-I see... I'll have to get used to this power. With this, I... I feel ready to fight.
: Then that's exactly what we'll do, Anakin.
Next Time: More secret goods, and a gaiden recruitment that's kind of hard to miss.