Part 18: Chapter 14A: Queen of White DunesChapter 14A: Queen of White Dunes
Eirika and her allies successfully repel the Grado invaders. Still, Jehanna Hall remains under siege, on the edge of ruin.
En route, Eirika learns that the hall has indeed been captured by Grado.
To rescue Queen Ismaire and recover Jehanna's Sacred Stone, Eirika leads an assault on the royal hall.
But first...remember how someone mentioned Lyon?
: You're swift, aren't you? Compared to you, I'm-- I've been bested at fencing by a woman. Pitiful crown prince, am I not?
What's that supposed to mean?
: That's not true...
: Oh, no, Eirika. It is. The people need a strong ruler. They don't want a weakling like me. They want the strength you and Ephraim share. My body is frail. I prefer to spend my time locked away in the castle, reading... I think my father would be better served if someone else took my place. I'm sure all of our retainers feel the same...
: You're wrong, Lyon. An emperor without compassion will never hold the people's love. And one day, your compassion will surely save us all. I believe that.
: Eirika... Thank you. Yes. I...I will do my best. Even though I lack your strength, there must be some good I can do.
: There is.
: By the way, Eirika...
Two years ago, Lyon offered something to Eirika. Was this a proposal or simply a sentimental gift? I don't believe the game ever mentions it.
: N-no. It's nothing.
: Jehanna Hall has been completely occupied by Grado soldiers. I'm sorry to report that Queen Ismaire is already...
: And the one giving orders to the troops in the palace is Crown Prince Lyon?
: What is there to give us pause? Should we not storm the palace and retake it by strength of arms?
: Frelia's spy network reports that Prince Lyon is an initiate of dark magic. If this is true, even approaching him will be a serious challenge. I'd heard the prince dislikes violence. However, it could all have been a ruse.
: Still, if we don't retake the palace, we've no hope of defeating Grado. We must rescue the queen, no matter the cost...
: I understand. Let's go!
Inside, a small soap opera is taking place.
: I have no desire to see you harmed.
: Carlyle... Why have you betrayed us? After all these years of loyal service as Jehanna's most decorated commander... Without you, I could not have ruled these long years since my husband's passing. It was through your unwavering support alone that I still sit upon the throne. You are the cornerstone of Jehanna. You have held my trust more than any man. So tell me why. Why have you betrayed us? Why have you betrayed me?
: Your Highness--No... My queen... Ismaire... It is your own fault. You are too lovely, my queen.
: The first time I met you, twenty years ago now... I saw you in the garden of this very palace... and I was bewitched. Your pale beauty far surpassed that of any flower. I was in the grips of an unforgivable desire. You were the wife of my king, to whom I'd sworn life and loyalty. I told myself a grand lie that day. I told myself I could be happy simply serving you as your most loyal knight.
I get that the game is trying to make him a victim of his own emotions, but pining for someone else's wife is still a little creepy.
: After years of duty, years of service, years of...of silence... I became aware once more of the feelings I'd buried deep within myself. How could I leave this world without expressing my true desires? Could anything be more desolate? More devoid of meaning? That is when I made my decision. I would follow my heart and claim your hand as my own.
: Carlyle... You forget yourself. You ruin our country and kill our countrymen. Did you think I would be pleased? Did you think I would love you for this?
: I need no country. I care nothing for my countrymen. I can see nothing but you. If you would only be mine...
This map is fairly simple, even though we can't see inside most of the rooms. What we've got to do is seize the throne, as with most of these indoors maps, and there are treasures to grab.
Creepiness aside, Carlyle's a real pain in the neck. His Wind Sword is a magical blade, which means that it takes his strength and attacks his opponent's resistance, and what's more, it can attack at range using wind magic. I'm sure you've noticed, but resistance is not a strong stat in this game. Now, combine that with a swordmaster's boost to crit and his high speed, and you've got a real recipe for pain here.
That's not the only concern here, as a cutscene at the start of the battle shows.
: What?!? No, no, no. That was never part of the deal. The only fight I'm here for is with the locks of the treasure chamber.
: Hah... Don't get so excited. I doubt you mercenaries will see any action at all once we soldiers've finished.
: Yeah, great. You go do that.
: Whew... With all these soldiers around, I shouldn't have to lift a finger. I'll just sit here and wait for them to win the day. Then, I collect my pay! No more being ordered around by that selfish princess and her moronic bodyguard. This is the life. Lady Luck loves me...But something doesnt feel right...
Yes, we've got to recruit Rennac here, and if we want to do it with Eirika, it won't be cheap. Alternatively, we could talk to him with L'Arachel and not have to pay a dime. Guess which option I'm going for.
But first, we have to get to him.
I should note that we don't have to use Colm on this map, since the game provides a fairly generous supply of keys. Still, it's a lot more convenient to use him than to juggle around keys between party members.
Door number one reveals a fairly mundane assortment of enemies. Note the staircase leading off to the west. If we approached from that staircase before the door was opened, we couldn't enter this room, and that confuses me. FE6 had sideways doors, yet FE7 and FE8 never use them. Sure, they were a little hard to see, but when the alternative is silliness like this, I think the player could manage.
Moulder's healquest begins. He's going to be eating through his barrier staff on an accelerated leveling binge. Wish him luck.
Opening door number two a little earlier than I should have reveals Rennac and some random assorted blokes. I should note that one of those fighters has a swordreaver axe.
Bad news for him. Good news for me is that he drops the swordreaver. I'll be needing that.
The reason we're trying to recruit Rennac is mostly for the Member Card, which allows you access into secret shops. If you don't feel like he's worth the trouble to recruit, the game does put killing him on the table by making the Member Card drop on death. That is, if he doesn't steal something else first. Which he will.
I really did open that door way too early. The instant you reveal Rennac, he's going to make a beeline for the room above in search of treasure, making it difficult to run him down.
At the start of enemy turn 1, our team-killing mercenary shows up, and guess who he's brought with him.
: Impressive work you've done here. My compliments.
: ...I gave you everything I promised. I opened the hall to your forces.
: Yes. The palace is mine. My palace... Oh, how I do like the sound of that.
: Do whatever you want with the royal treasury. The only treasure I wish to leave here with is the queen of my heart.
: Oh, yeah, about your queen..." There's been a change of plans.
: Don't move, Carlyle. You twitch, and the queen dies.
: Blackheart! What is the meaning of this?
: Calm down. You'll get her back as soon as I'm done with her. Jehanna's Sacred Stone is around here somewhere. I've got to find it and destroy it. I need this woman to guide me to its hiding place.
: Do not lay a hand on my queen!
: Don't get so incensed. I'm not going to harm her. I'm not like that freak Valter. I'm kind to women. But if you make a wrong move, you'll lose your prize. Understood?
: There are some annoying pests outside who think to win back the hall. I want you to take care of them. Lose, and the queen will never be yours.
: ...If my queen comes to any harm in your care...
: Yes, of course. I know all about the might of your sword arm. As long as the Sacred Stone is destroyed, you'll get all you ask for.
: Greetings, Prince. Let's get going.
: Caellach... You will put an end to this. Destroying the Sacred Stones is... Ugh...ack...
: What's this? Are you still ill? You know, you're not very princely. C'mon. Follow me.
And to no one's great surprise, Carlyle takes the throne. That extra avoid is only going to make him more "fun" to face.
But that's far in the future. First, an excellent level.
Then a couple not-so-excellent ones. But hey, more strength and defense, more Amelia.
Rennac's pilferquest begins. The Spear is the ultimate ranged lance. Not much more to it.
Also, it goes without saying, but we're not going to catch Rennac that way. The myrmidon has a killing edge, and we're not marching L'Arachel anywhere near that.
Power leveling aside, it's a good idea to give a shot of Barrier to whoever's going to enter door number three. Why?
Surprise! Hordes of magical men await you through this door. Plus a knight, but he's boring.
The resistance is nice for just this very occasion, but Joshua needs more strength.
Good thing I did that, since Joshua gets shelled by almost every single magician in the room. Aren't myrmidons supposed to be dodgy?
Ah, the Hammerne staff, capable of restoring any weapon to full durability. There are only three charges, though, so I probably will never use it, but wish I did.
Get used to strength with Cormag. Cormag is strength, and that's why he's so deadly.
Killing that killing edge myrmidon got us another Hero Crest too. Good thing, since we've got two myrmidons jockeying for positions with an overpowered mercenary.
Looks like Moulder's replacement is coming along nicely.
Despite the bad level compared to Marisa, Joshua isn't in any real danger of losing his job once his plot arc is finished. Just compare the relevant stats.
This next part exceeded my expectations. I'd placed Amelia in this spot in hopes of drawing in the archers for an easy kill next turn.
Turns out that Amelia decided to be proactive and kill every single archer this turn instead.
Amelia really wants to steal Gilliam's position.
-reavers are a little crazy.
As crazy as Tana capping speed.
Meanwhile, Ewan tries his luck, and comes up aces.
Too bad that his dodging burned through his luck.
Since we're not catching Rennac by chasing him down, I instead decide to cut him off before he can escape out the west side of the map, which he will definitely do if given the chance.
Around this time, trios of cavaliers start pouring into the map. Too bad that they're heading straight for Cormag.
Ewan really shouldn't have dodged that javelin.
More archers pour in for Amelia to whack.
Remember when she could barely kill someone? Our Amelia is growing up so quickly.
Ross clears the path so that L'Arachel can march past that sniper.
Beating Gerik to the strength cap in the process.
Compared to the room full of magicians, this is downright mundane.
More cavaliers pour into the castle.
Maybe they think that if they send enough in, Cormag will reach his kill limit.
Feeling somewhat insecure about L'Arachel's chances against that sniper, Colm makes a distraction. For whatever reason, the AI loves to pick on the poor little thief.
And with that accomplished, Colm can block Rennac from escaping. Unlike most red units, Rennac is not hostile towards my guys, and once blocked from leaving the map, he'll just sit still and do nothing.
Or maybe it's because Colm's too fast for him to rob.
For this purpose, Ross finishes the sniper with an unnecessary flourish.
Tana is assisting Cormag with the cavalier infestation.
Let's get this over with.
: Aha! So this is where you've wandered off to, Rennac!
: Princess LArachel? Uh-oh, um...
: Come with me.
: Wait... hold on now. Go with you where? Look, sorry, but I've been hired by the Grado Empire, and... Hello! I'm talking to you!
: Rennac, whatever is the matter? I promise to listen to your story later, but now, we must be going!
: No, I'm no servant, like that kook Dozla. I'm a mercenary. I escorted you to Renais like I was hired to do, didn't I? You have no right to drag me across creation without any pay whatsoever!
: Is this about wages? I believe you've received ample compensation.
: Ample?! Do you even know what that word means? You've the princess of Rausten! I thought working for you would pay well. Yet your purse strings are knotted tight, and I've almost been killed so many--
: The joy that comes from doing good is not something that can be purchased. There. All better? Let's go.
: Riding with you is-- ...And there she goes. Oh...By the Stones, why did I ever take that job in the first place?
: We must hurry, Rennac.
: Right, right. I'm coming...
And we now have another person who can steal things, plus a peek into Colm's possible destiny. Rennac is a rogue, and that means that he can unlock things without needing lockpicks to do it. Not much else to say about him, really.
With Rennac taken care of, all that's left is getting everyone to this door so that they can assault the throne room. Seriously, who designed this place? Getting to see the queen requires the most circuitous path you can imagine.
Why does every trainee have to end their training on such a low note?
We've got shamen coming in from the west, where Rennac was trying to leave. They're easily taken care of.
Without strength to gain, Ross's next few levels are going to be disappointing.
One of the shamen on the east side has a Luna tome. Luna is special because it has no power, but it negates the enemy's resistance. What that means is that when you use one, you're hitting the enemy for your magic stat. That's deadly in the hands of a skilled magician, which this shaman isn't. We'll get to play with one of them next chapter.
Amelia is a very atypical knight. No complaints here.
Well, Tana got rid of the Luna shaman, at any rate.
While everyone else piles into that thin corridor, Colm goes back to loot the chests that I passed by. This one in particular is a nice touch on the developers' part, since we'd have to pay that amount to recruit Rennac if we didn't have L'Arachel along.
And then things get a little complicated.
Berserk is a status effect that makes the affected target attack anyone nearby, friend or foe. Fortunately, our party members won't counter-attack Cormag if he does attack them, but he's tough enough to render Tana or Eirika into a mushy paste.
But if we move them back, then that gives Cormag only one target, which he happily goes for.
So many people hitting their caps today. It's beautiful. That doesn't make Cormag any less of a problem though. I need to bait him over to L'Arachel.
Thank you, Rennac.
And we finally put that Restore staff to use. Problem solved.
Fast forward a bit to Colm opening his next box. The Dragonspear does effective damage to wyvern riders of all kinds, plus dragons, if there were such a thing in this game. The other chest only has our third Energy Ring. That's a good item, don't get me wrong, but it's not really that interesting.
The throne room has some easily-disposable knights in it.
Well, took you long enough.
Oh yes, L'Arachel's going to step into Moulder's shoes just fine.
No barrier magic, and still these monks can't do a thing. That's just sad.
We've got something good going on here.
I'd be a fool to try this. I just wanted to show off that wind magic is effective against fliers. There's a wind magic tome in the game's coding that does the same thing, but it's not available for general use. I wonder why they took it out.
While I mull over my plan of attack, Cormag goes secret shopping.
How sweet it is. All of the killer weapons...
Barrier and Physic staves...
And promotion items too. Not that we need them for the most part, since the game's pretty generous, but Ross and Colm are both competing for the single Ocean Seal, so I grab one of those.
So here's the boring and tedious way to kill Carlyle.
Lute's resistance allows her to tank the wind sword, and if she gets lucky, she can slowly wear Carlyle down with her magic. Emphasis on slowly, since the throne is rejuvenating 10% of his health every turn.
: Carlye. How did this happen? You taught me how to wield a blade. You of all people...
: You've returned. But now...It's too late. It's far too late.
So, I may have forgotten to mention something important about our chronic gambler here.
But then again, if you knew about the way this game shows family ties by hair color, you might have had your suspicions.
Joshua got the worst of that exchange, but he came out of it okay.
Lute's boring battle gives her a boring level.
So I decide to speed up the process a little, using a Barrier-boosted Ross. The swordreaver is cutting Carlyle's damage by 2 while increasing Ross's hit chance by 30, both of which are very important, and his huge store of luck counteracts Carlyle's crit chance.
And so it was that a pirate bested a swordmaster. I love Ross.
Wish he'd get more speed though.
Nothing left to do but grind up supports and raise Moulder to level 20.
Kind of a low point to end his leveling on, but man, that speed!
You are no longer a mere priest.
Rise, Bishop Moulder.
Becoming a Bishop has given Moulder the ability to use light magic, and I'll be primarily focusing on that, since he can only have one S rank. Using too many staves from here on out is likely to push him over the edge, so L'Arachel will be taking over his healing duties.
But that's a concern for later. Let's Seize.
: All right, Your Majesty. Hand over the Sacred Stone.
: ...I know nothing of the Sacred Stone's keeping place.
: Don't waste me time. My partner here sees everything. When the rebellion began, you went straight to the palace altar. You had hoped to prevent us from smashing the Sacred Stone. But you have the Stone of Jehanna with you right now, don't you?
: Hand it over. Cooperate, and I'll let you live.
: ...I cannot.
: Oh, give it up, will you? I've no time for games. If you resist, I'll just kill you and take it anyway.
: H-hold! You mustn't harm her, Caellach...
: Shut up, Prince. My orders come from higher than you. You've not going to start disobeying his word, are you?
: Last chance. Give me your Sacred Stone.
: ...I cannot.
: Ha ha! A queen to the end. I like you. You've got guts. Good-bye.
: And here's the Sacred Stone. That makes two for me. I'm on a roll now.
: And another Sacred Stone has been destroyed. Grado, Frelia, and now Jehanna... Only two stones remain.
: Ah... What should I do? C-Caellach... You must help her.
: Leave her. Let her last breath be a harsh and ragged rasp. She's not long for this world. Why, if you really wanted to help her, you'd deliver the final blow yourself!
: N-no. I couldn't.
: ...What a joke. I have a little work to wrap up in the hall before we leave. You should hit the road pretty soon, too, Prince.
: I heard she was in the throne room, but there's no sight of her. And there's no Sacred Stone, either.
: We must search quickly.
: Wait, Lyon! Don't run away! My brother and I have been so worried about you... We know more then anyone the gentleness of your spirit. Your father is deranged, isn't he? That's why Grado invaded Renais, right? Tell me, Lyon... Please... Tell me what has happened.
: I'm sorry, Eirika. I've wanted to see you and Ephraim for so long now... I wanted to see you so that I could apologize. The invasion of Renais... I couldn't stop it. I'm sorry, but I still cannot talk to you. Not yet...
: You... You have a reason, don't you?
: Mm... I can't talk about it now, but... I promise I will tell you everything someday.
: I see... I believe you, Lyon. I must tell you, I'm a little relieved. I was afraid you'd changed as much as your poor father has. I'm so glad.
Eirika, I know he's your friend, but it's okay to be just a little suspicious.
: Me, too, Eirika... No, you have changed. You're even more beautiful than you were before.
: I'm sorry, I have to go. But please remember this. This war started because I was too weak to stop it, but... I'll always be your friend.
: This way!
: Y-yes. Coming!
: We're too late. Her injuries are... She will not last much longer.
: ...Jo...Joshua... ...Joshua...
: Oh, Joshua... Where is...that boy...
: Queen Ismaire...
: Please forgive me, Joshua... I was a foolish mother... I was so intent on being queen that I spared no time to be your mother. But I loved you nonetheless... Please understand...
: Joshua... It really is you... Joshua...my son...
: I'm sorry, Mother. I should never have left you. I've no excuse... I wanted to see the world as a man, not as a prince. I wanted to be worthy. I planned on returning to your side afterward... I was so foolish. If I'd been here, I could have--
: No, it's fine. You're here now... Listen to me, Joshua. The Stone of Jehanna has... been destroyed. The one who tempted Carlyle is responsible...
: What? Who was it?
: ...Carried a dark stone... It is...the origin of all this... It should not exist... Joshua...you must... Our country...our people...
: I understand, Mother.
: Thank you...Joshua... I have something... Something I must give you...
: This is...
: It's one of the Sacred Twin relics, unique to House Jehanna... He who would rule our land must possess it... I've watched over it since your father passed away. I kept it safe and waited for this day to come...
: Mother... I have it now. I understand its meaning...
: Joshua... My...dear, sweet child...
The Sacred Twin weapons of Jehanna. All Sacred Twin weapons are S rank, and only promoted classes can get that high. As you can see, they carry a bonus with them, unique to each weapon.
Audhulma is very light, making it useful for promoted myrmidons or thieves, but any sword-wielding class can benefit from it, really. It's clearly designed for Joshua, but Marisa, Gerik, Colm, or even one of the mounted soldiers could use it if they wished to.
Excalibur is an anima tome of great weight, counteracted by its speed bonus. Lute or Saleh will make good use of this.
: It's been more than ten years. I'd grown tied of the formality of palace life, so I...just left. I wrote a farewell and left the palace, taking nothing with me. I felt I could never understand the people while I stayed sequestered in a castle. I abandoned my identity and roamed the continent, working where I could. I wanted only to be worthy of becoming king. I knew one day I would return.
: Was I simply rebelling against my mother? Punishing her for tending to her duties?
: I was a fool, yes, but I learned much over these ten years. I have learned about the hearts of our people, how they need to be governed. I have learned how our country needs to change and to grow. I have learned much, but I've lost much more. Mother...
: Prince Joshua...
: I made a promise. I want to continue what she began. I will help defeat Grado. I will defend Jehanna and her allies. ...I know it doesnt sound like me, but...
: On behalf of Frelia, I came to Jehanna with a letter to the throne. I give it to you. Prince Joshua of Jehanna... Let us fight together.
: Yes, I suppose that's true. And my brother is with us as well. And if it were possible... Lyon... I wish you could be here with us, too.
Before Eirika has the opportunity to start flashbacking again...
: Fires have broken out all through the hall!
: The curtains were soaked in oil, with torches set about the hall. It's a trap! Someone did this during all the fighting. You must flee! Quickly, before the flames engulf us all!
: I know. Joshua, we must go. Now.
: No... Mother... Forgive me...
: We all made it. It's so smoky that it's hard to tell, but we're here. What a cowardly act, setting fire to the palace hall. But we've escaped without injury. The enemy's trap has failed.
: ...No, it hasn't. Assemble the troops now. The enemy is coming.
: What did you say?
: This is the reason for the fire. To drive us from the palace. They'll be attacking soon. No other plan makes sense.
: How is it that you know that?
: Princess Eirika. I've just received word that Grado reinforcements are headed this way. There are two armies, led by Generals Valter and Caellach.
: Two armies... They're willing to send so many here and leave the capital defenseless?
: Why does everyone seem so distraught? It matters not who stands in our path. We shall smite them all with the power of righteousness!
: Princess Eirika... It's going to be very difficult for us to continue. One of Grado's generals alone is more than a match for us. Compound that with the exhaustion of our troops, and I'm not sure we can--
: Bah... With Jehanna Hall in flames, we've no place to hole up and dig in for a siege. We have to retreat. We have to win ourselves time for form a plan. Grado sent two generals... What could be happening in their capital? And what of Ephraim? Is he still alive?
Trapped between two armies in a desert. Sounds like a perfect way to end Act 2.
Next Time: We bring the band together in Chapter 15: Scorched Sand.
Weapon Ranks: B in swords
HP: 28 (65%) Lck: 5 (25%)
Str: 10 (25%) Def: 9 (25%)
Skl: 16 (45%) Res: 11 (30%)
Spd: 17 (60%) Con: 7
Rennac's usefulness extends only to his abilities. His growths in everything but speed are mediocre, but that's okay, since the stealing formula only compares the rogue's speed to the enemy's speed, so that's all he really needs. You shouldn't depend on him for combat, and he's not going to take damage that well, but he opens doors and picks pockets real nicely. Colm's going to easily outstrip him though, so he should only be deployed when there's a lot of stuff to be grabbed, like next chapter, for instance.
As I've hinted at multiple times, you can talk to Rennac with Eirika instead of L'Arachel, but it'll cost you.
: Hey, that's a comely lass. Think I'll have a few words... Wait. Er, haven't I met you before?
: You... You were traveling with LArachel before, weren't you?
: Oh, yeah... Renais... I've got to get--
: LArachel is traveling with us. Should I let her know you're here?
: Uh, no! Wait a moment! You... You don't have to bother her. Actually I wanted to ask you something. How would you like to hire me? The name's Rennac. I'm a world-class thief, and proud of it. A man of many talents. Lockpicks are for amateurs. I can pick chests and doors with my bare hands. And I'm better with a blade than most swordsmen.
: I'm a useful fellow to have around. And cheap, too! Only 9,980 gold! Well, what do you think?
: 9,980 gold?
(If you hire him)
: Fine. I'll pay the 9,980 gold.
: Very good! You know a bargain when you see one, don't you? Not at all like a certain pious princess I know.
: Were you speaking of LArachel?
: Uh, no... Idle chitchat about that lass is bound to land me in hot water. Right, then! You're my new boss. Point out any doors or chests, and get out of my way!
(If you don't hire him)
: After a moment's thought... There's no way you can be worth that much gold. Never mind.
: Oh, no? What a shame. It's your loss. Truly, it is. Give a holler if you change your mind.
He isn't worth that much gold. Just putting that out there.