No, it's not spoilers. If you have an Augury, Hortensia just flat-out says it.
A slight nudge to the left of Chapter 23x, we join our group who, much like us, would like to pretend that the whole Nebilim thing never happened.
: DON'T DO IT!!!
: Huh? What are you talking about? Did I say something in my sleep?
: Yeah, you were shouting... You woke us up... It was... kind of scary.
: Oh... I'm sorry. It was just a dream. I didn't mean to.
: Heh... Dreams get to the best of us, don't they? You should go back to sleep. There's still a couple more hours until dawn. Rest easy, Siegfried.
: Will you be alright, Dad?
: Of course, Shon. It's just a dream. You should really go to bed yourself. Your mother wouldn't approve of you staying up this late...
: I guess she wouldn't... Come to think of it, she probably wouldn't want me fighting either, right?
She'd probably be afraid of you hurting yourself.
: Well, you're a grown man, but... Sometimes... I'm not sure myself, Shon. I'm not sure if we should be fighting in this war. Sometimes I feel like all I've ever done is fight, and because of it... I've lost so much... Maybe fighting this war wasn't the right thing for me to do... But everytime I doubt myself, I remember what I'm fighting for. When you think of that, it's hard to look away...
: ...Yeah... We're in the heart of Magnus... this is where it all ends.
: ...Yeah. That's what I keep telling myself.......Now YOU need to go to sleep, Shon. It's midnight. You'll be tired later, and you'll regret it.
: Sorry, Dad. Good night.
Of course, this night isn't going to be peaceful. Don't be silly.
: Who are you? What are you doing here?
: Who are you that you ask to see the General at this hour? A Magnian? A traveler? A newcomer recruit?
: I... must see Siegfried. The night lengthens. Its peak is near.
: What are you mumbling about...?
: I must see Siegfried. Time is running out.
"This is a message from Lord Nergal..."
: Just who are you? ...Gah, fine. Stay here. I'll get someone for you.
: No... the shadow of the enemy lingers. We must not chat idly here any longer. Siegfried... is in grave danger. Take me to him. Now.
: I... unh... ...I suppose there's nothing wrong... with escorting you... Just don't try anything fishy. You're in our territory.
I like this random NPC. He's got character.
: He suggests that we are in danger of being attacked.
: It is inevitable... A dark shadow approaches... as we speak...
: Who are you? And how do you know of this?
: I am... a man warped by dark magic... At times, my voice and my conscious(sic) fade... ...I came here to warn you... My master's minions approach...
: Well, I'm... glad you told us, however... This doesn't explain why you've decided to tell us.
: I seek freedom... My teacher is a threat to this freedom. You are the protector of this freedom. Do my actions appear illogical? Does anything else need an explanation? If not, then I implore you to act, General.
: Perhaps, but... I suppose this can wait. You say we're being ambushed?
: ...The time draws ever closer while we speak, General... I believe the guardsmen who brought me here is notifying the others...
: Alright. I suppose we shouldn't leave any guests unwelcomed. Tell me, what was your name?
: Rana, huh? Many thanks.
: Think... nothing of it...
Rana, eh? Now where did we hear that name last?
Oh yeah...probably shouldn't mention that.
Well, look who it is.
: It seems you've become smarter since our last encounter... Kelik.
: What do you want from us?
: It's not what I want. It's what Magnus wants.
A moment of our undivided attention?
: Your heads.
: Do you intend to take our heads with those few soldiers of yours?
: Indeed. It would have been easier had you stayed in bed... But it doesn't matter. You will die, regardless.
: I don't know who you are, but you've lost it if you think you can beat us with those numbers.
: You would do well not to underestimate your opponent. These are not ordinary humans. I sincerely doubt any of you are strong enough to take them down. They are... corpses, reanimated with powerful ether by my master...
: I don't know what kind of foul sorcerory(sic) your "master" does, but I think you'll be in for a surprise as well if you go underestimating us.
: Kelik, how do you know him?
: We fought right outside of Yulia, before we rescued you. He... had me down, but Anakin came, and for some reason, he left. But this time will be different.
: I accept your challenge.
But before we get to the map, Liuke has something to say.
: I now have a carriage with me. This makes me mobile. I'm sure you realize that the efficiency of my services will increase greatly. I will expect a raise for this service, however!
Yes sir! This old green tent has become...
A pudgy man with a receding hairline.
Real effort there, fella. Real nice.
Two fog of war chapters in a row makes me really sad. This one's got a bit of an interesting theme to it, and I'll give you a little bit to figure it out.
Gameplay-wise, you should be aware that there are guys on both sides. First time I played this map, that took me by surprise and my guys got swarmed pretty badly.
Rana's still here, of course, and we'll have to bring Siegfried to recruit him. He's good, and I could use him instead of Yue. That extra two points of constitution especially are a lifesaver when it comes to carrying around dark tomes.
What do you know? Actual stats, minus the luck. These reanimated fellows are a decent challenge to take on, and if we let them double team one of our guys, they could probably take them out.
Before we get to the action, recall that we got this interesting item last chapter. What does it do?
That! That's what it does!
Yes sir! The Ether Sphere grants +10 to HP and +3 to EVERYTHING ELSE! Combined with the speed bonus already granted from Silvans and Shon's promotion, that initial -8 has now become a much more bearable -3, rendering the primary weakness of Silvans effectively inert.
We're going to have some fun with this.
Let's get to it!
I really wouldn't recommend listening to that one past the first 15-20 seconds or so. It seriously made me feel ill just recording it.
It's of the utmost importance that you have Siegfried talk to Rana the instant the battle starts. He is going to get killed if he doesn't move in the first turn.
: I am not here for a reason. I am here because I lack a reason to go elsewhere...
: This place has become a battlefield, as you warned us. You should just stay back and wait until the fighting is done. We appreciate you taking the risk to warn us of the ambush.
: You... are welcome. You should know, I only did it for myself.
: Yes, I know. It was to protect your freedoms, right? We're rebels against oppression, which makes us freedom fighters. So you told the right people, even if it was for a selfish reason.
: Selfish... you are not selfish, Siegfried?
: Everyone is to some extent, but, I'm not fighting this war for myself.
: I... see. So you fight for someone else. How generous of you. Perhaps I too can fight for someone else, and not just myself...
: You can fight?
: Dark magic... is the most powerful and dangerous to exist. Simply wielding it makes us casters slowly move away from sanity... And into the dark abyss...
I don't know, Yue seems to be pretty lucid. Or perhaps all that babbling is a different sort of insanity.
: I... can't say I quite understand. But if this magic is so poweful, why not join us, and put it to use? After all, you'll not only be protecting your own freedoms, but others' as well.
: Ah... You've... given me good reason to fight. Now I have reason to stay here.
: That's right, Rana. You're a part of our family now, so don't get lost in this darkness!
That's almost saddening.
A single nomad trooper hides in the darkness to our east, and a warrior is hiding to the southeast. A halberdier, sniper, falcoknight, and wyvern lord lurk above us. All of these are nasty surprises that we need to address.
Eclipse is still terrible, but it's good weapon experience.
And sometimes you just get lucky.
This opens the way for Ben to swoop in for a finish.
Heh, heh, heh...
This sage's Dasher is droppable, actually. Kind of a surprise, since we got one just last chapter, though I guess, considering how much of a silly requirement getting the Emblem Lance was, that most people probably wouldn't have found that gaiden.
up next: a single paladin, bishop, and general.
Get the pattern yet?
This paladin is especially notable, since he's packed to the gills with gear. A surprise for any class.
And here comes that falcoknight I warned about.
Part of the problem with these enemies, much like in FE7, is that their higher stats aren't that great when you consider the chance to crit on our side. 0 Luck enemies are just chumps.
Remember that luck also adds to hit and dodge chances. Not a whole lot, but it can make a difference.
So let's talk about this warrior.
He might not seem that impressive going against Kevin, but he's fast enough to double Rana, and can do enough damage to kill him in two hits.
This halberdier also has a nasty surprise for you.
Hope you didn't bring your myrmidon/swordmasters up this way.
Emma doesn't care, because she's the beefiest valkyrie.
Valumin? Not even
You may have noticed that I don't use Siegfried much these days, and that's because...
Well, he's not that great. Even with the fantastic growths, his bases are so low that he's actually a flight risk to have around.
Sticking a tome on Rana that weighs him down this much is a mean move on Blazer's part.
I should note that Sword Crusher is not effective against all sword users, just the classes that specialize in swords.
Too bad for him.
Don't worry, he doesn't have Lethality.
Still, lots of crit weapons on these guys. If you aren't prepared, you're going to have one of these jerks lunging at you out of the darkness and...BOOM! Time for a reset.
Shon is so powerful right now. It's a beautiful feeling.
No word on whether the Ether Sphere boosts growths. My gut feeling says no, because there's still an Afa's Drops item in this game.
Man, would you look at those numbers.
It's a good thing that swords are so accurate.
But if you thought that Althares' crit was good...
Brother, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
It was a Lethality crit too!
I'm honestly glad that we don't see these guys too often after this map. This is just unfortunate.
This hero's aerial acrobatics fail to impress me.
Ah, the wyvern lord! What's he packing?
I'm Braver than you~
Best part? This Hero had a Brave weapon in reserve.
Even if he had critted, what would I have cared?
Okay, that's just freaky.
That should be everything in that corner.
Good thing I was wearing my shield. Talk about a nasty surprise.
A free Aircalibur tome? For me?
The Winter Bow is pretty neat, since it strikes resistance. I'll show it off next chapter.
With some double teaming on Kelik and Tekun's part, we can snatch that tome for our own.
I love you so much, Tekun.
And all that's left is the man himself.
If you don't have someone with speed in the 20's who can simultaneously take a 52-damage smack to the face, you're going to be rather annoyed by this guy. This trend of bosses that only the creme de la creme can even hope to fight is going to continue right on to the end of the game, so you might as well get comfortable.
Since he isn't going anywhere, he's also a great guy to bounce Eclipse uses off of. Gotta get to that S rank somehow.
You can't even reach Yue from over there.
Fortunately, Shon's speed is boosted enough so that he doesn't get doubled, but he's also going to have problems with hitting Fenix.
The Hero sprite looks so goofy without the shield.
Zooming in to refresh Shon so that he doesn't get attacked during the enemy phase puts Anakin in range of Fenix instead. But that's fine, since he and Fenix have a convo together.
: Tell me, are you nothing but a pretentious fool?
: No. You yourself seem overconfident, Fenix.
: I trust in my own strength, and nothing more.
: The same goes for me
Dracozombie fire, eh? I can dig it, even though it isn't even close to actually coming from Fenix's sword.
And who better to finish the job than the guy who almost got killed by him the first time?
: No... excitement.
: I've never killed anyone who was excited to die. Perhaps this war has killed your will to live...
: Heheh... actually...
: I've never felt more alive!
He's come so far, hasn't he?
So Fenix is having some problems.
Guess it's time for backup.
: To think you would fall to these inferior beings... Seeing you squirm so helplessly... You're a laugh, Fenix. Hahahaha... Begone! Take your injuries elsewhere! You are of no use to me!
And off he goes, warped away to who-knows-where.
Are you ready for a villain speech, because Lahar's been practicing this one for days.
: Now that the weakling has been warped away, let me do so. You've accomplished much, getting this far. I would expect no less from the man who was once renowned as the most powerful soldier in Valencia. The same goes for the young brother of the arrogant swordsman. Harararara!
I'm going to guess that Blazer took the idea of giving villains unique laughs from the same place that he borrowed Zoro. In One Piece, it's a running theme that every villain gets their own unique and bizarre laugh, and in his case, it seems to be off the second syllable of Lahar's name.
: Your expression hints to me... fear. Can you feel my power? Does it not overwhelm you? Since you seem too stunned to respond, let me explain. I am a mage beyond even the level of that kid, the Mage General. Few know of me yet, but those who do fear me as "Lahar". I used the foolish Emperor and his emotions to gain unchecked authority... Authority to do whatever I please in my conquest for power. Backed by the Emperor of Magnus, no one dares to interfere with me. Funds, time, space, power, authority, and genius. Is it starting to come to you? Have you realized it?
: Those people... we fought just now... That was... you... who made them? Fenix's... master...
If so, your ability to create minions sucks.
: Hahaha... yes, indeed. It was me! The perfect beings, grand in strength, infinite in number!
Weak in crit resistance.
: I created these powerful corpses--and their power is only a fraction of my own. With my power and knowledge, I can do what no other has. My ability to control ether... and the dark magic I cast... No one can get anywhere close to reaching my level! The only thing stopping me is your group of freedom fighters... You seek your freedom, and I seek mine. As long as you exist, there too exists a threat to my own existence... It would be troublesome if you got in the way of my plans. So when I send you to your grave in a few seconds, keep this in mind! You were sacrificed for my "freedom"! Hararararara! Harararararara!!!
This game keeps using the word "freedom," but I don't know if it means what Blazer thinks it does.
Hey! No fair starting with Shon first!
: As if I'd let you!
: No! Siegfried!!!
To this game's credit, it makes sense for Siegfried to do so much damage, since Nothung IS an anti-mage weapon.
It's not enough.
But that's okay. They faked us out before with the first Kelik vs. Fenix fight. I'm sure he'll be...
: I... couldn't... keep... our promise...
: Uraaaa!!! Accursed knight!!!
: Dad... DAD! DAD!!!!!!
Yeah, two shots of Silvans would have ended it.
: Lahar, you bastard! You evil piece of shit! Don't think I'll let you get away with killing Siegfried!
: Injured or not... I'll definitely get away... And this corpse... is powerful... I... can use this... I... will return... with even more power at my disposal...! Ha... ra... ra... ra...!!! Farewell, rebels!!!
That's a long period of time not spent smashing him in the face.
But since you can't fight while talking, that gives him enough time to escape.
: Anakin, this is bad... Shon's collapsed from shock. At this rate, he won't survive much longer. What are you doing? Go tell someone! Get a healer!
: Are you just going to let Shon die? At least help me carry him!
: (I... can't move...!)
: Dammit, you're so useless, Anakin! You too, body... move, dammit! I have to... take... Siegfried's son... Lahar, Louis, Leon, Magnus... I will never forgive you... And Siegfried... your war... and your son... I will not let them die!
This scene is so aggravating to me, because they are really trying to sell Lahar as a villain when, had the player been granted control during that scene, Lahar would have been swarmed and stomped before getting to paragraph three in his giant speech there.
And killing Siegfried? Not especially an accomplishment. The guy's an eggshell.
Or was, at any rate.
: I killed the rebel commander. I have his corpse with me.
: That... is him? Siegfried?
: Yes. I went through much trouble killing him. Right before I did, he slashed through my body. I need to time recover(sic) from this wound.
: ...Hahahah! Great! This is great! Siegfried is dead! Their commander is dead!
Why do I imagine him doing a little jig as he's saying this?
: Oh, what a joyous moment. Victory has been achieved! With no one to lead them, the rebels will fall apart! Now I can create my dream world... for my sister and me...
: Louis... you do realize I am here, correct? Or has your sight been lost to your incessant jabbering?
: ...Gah, what is it?
: The other commanders are alive, as is Siegfried's son. Your war is not over.
So put down the champagne and put your shirt back on!
: You... why didn't you kill them as well?!
: Do not question me like I am your servant, Louis! As I said, this dead man injured me before I had the chance. Now I am to take my leave. Deal with them yourself!
: Tch... no matter. I will send General Lanmark to stop their march. I've come too far to lose... I will leave no room for error!
You know, say what you will about Lahar, but at least he didn't sit on a throne and wait for the heroes to come to him.
: (And yet I... stood there... and watched... him die...)
: I think the same thing everytime someone dies in front of me. "Damnit! I was useless again!" But ultimately, we're both only humans, and we're only so strong. ...There was nothing either of us could do.
: ...No, you're wrong. We could have helped Siegfried... We could have saved him! We could have at least kept his body, but... I should have done something... If only I were stronger, I...
: Anakin... No matter how strong we grow, we may never be strong enough. You felt that power, didn't you? You should have felt it stronger than I did. He... made a sacrifice, and by doubting your actions--actions that you can never undo... You're doing an injustice to Siegfried, and everything that he protected.
: Kelik, he... he's dead. Do you realize what has happened? Do you honestly have any damn clue what happened to Siegfried?!
: What is going to happen to the rebellion without him? What are you going to tell the soldiers who are just now waking up, to find their commander dead? What are you going to tell his son? Huh, Kelik?!
: We've seen thousands of people die before, Anakin! I care about Siegfried too! I'm so mad I want to burn everything I see! But we're not fighting for Siegfried! We're fighting against Magnus! As long as Magnus remains, more people are going to die! If one death makes you lose sight of that so quickly, then you... You shouldn't be fighting this war!
Honestly, I feel like this whole conversation is pretty well-written. Both of them are tired, angry, and guilty, and they're just lashing out at each other because there's nothing else they can do.
: I will tell everyone what happened. Take good care of Shon. He's one of us now. You're going to have to be strong, for his sake. He lost his family. You and I know what it's like not to have a family because we never had one... But losing family... is much harder, I'd imagine.
: You don't have to say anything. I will do the talking. But we have to move on. You know we can't quit. General or not, the rebellion will continue. The royal mansion awaits, and, past that, our final destination. If we turned back now, we'd lose everything that Siegfried entrusted to us.
I know what you're thinking: "We're just going to get Siegfried back in a chapter or two, right?" Nope, he's dead. Completely, totally, and unquestionably so. We'll never get him back, he is permanently removed from the roster. The real reason why I haven't been training him up? There's no point in it, because he's gone, dusted, worm food.
He is an Ex-Siegfried!
But at least we've still got Shon, right?
Son of a...
Weapon Ranks: A in dark magic, C in staves
HP: 36 (80%) Lck: 19 (35%)
Mag: 20 (40%) Def: 13 (20%)
Skl: 16 (60%) Res: 20 (40%)
Spd: 16 (45%) Con: 10