The Let's Play Archive

Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones

by Blastinus

Part 37: Chapter 9B: Fort Rigwald

Chapter 9B: Fort Rigwald

Upon conquering Renais, the Grado Empire has set its sights on Frelia. However, Innes and his troops meet the invaders at the waters' edge.

Against all odds, Innes halts the invasion, keeping Frelia's border intact. Ephraim coordinates Frelia's troops in an effort to advance the front lines.

Unbeknownst to Ephraim, Grado forces are waiting for them at Fort Rigwald. They've fortified their positions and plan to wait out Frelia's siege.
Undaunted, Ephraim remains determined to root out Grado.

So that's your explanation for what Innes was doing during Eirika's opening segment. He was kicking legendary amounts of ass, that's what. I almost wish there'd been a side chapter where it was nothing but Innes and a bunch of hardy soldiers beating back wave after wave of Grado troops. That might have been fun.

You might remember that Eirika's route started with Vigarde giving the generals their marching orders. Largely the same dialogue occurs here, except:

: Punish the Frelian army and their commander, Ephraim.

: Begging your pardon, Your Majesty... Now that you've conquered Renais, what are your plans for her citizens? The country is in ruins. Thieves and bandits swagger about as if--

: Leave them...

: But, sire...

: ...

: Selena. Remain here in the capital. We shall have new orders for you shortly.

: Understood.

But that's apparently not enough, as not too soon afterwards...

: Grant me the privilege of a single question.

: ...You vex us.

: Your Majesty, you know that I will gladly lay down my life for an honorable cause! But these orders--and all of our recent actions--they are not just! If I saw in any way in which this invasion protected Grado, I would hold my tongue. But now, Renais is left ungoverned to drown in chaos, and we gain nothing!

: You've sent our men to fight and die for nothing! This isn't war--it's murder!

: ...Duessel. This decision is ours to make. You have no voice in these matters.

: Punish me if you must, Your Majesty, but I implore you! Please rethink this!! If this continues, Grado will--

: Duessel. Go to Frelia. Crush the Frelian army and he who leads them, Prince Ephraim.

: Your Majesty!

: Have you gone deaf?

: Duessel. Go to Frelia. Crush the Frelian army and he who leads them, Prince Ephraim.

: ...Yes, Your Majesty.

Looks like your dad still has a few bugs in the programming, Lyon. Might want to look into that.

At Fort Rigwald, a familiar Pegasus Knight is shoved in to see...

That thing.

: We captured a pegasus knight snooping about outside.

: Let me go! Stop it! That hurts!

: Ooooh... You didn't tell me she was such a treat for the eyes. Heh heh... This is a prize worth catching.

: I-I came for Ephraim. If you do anything to me, he will not be merciful.

: Heh heh... I like her. Throw her in a cell. I'll spend the evening giving her a thorough interrogation. Heh heh heh...

: You b-beast!

Yes, it's Gheb! A character so beloved by the fandom (in spite of, or perhaps because of, the fact that he's a misogynistic, narcissistic, cowardly, and downright ugly creature that calls itself a man) that he even starred in his own Fire Emblem mod. And the less said about that, the better. I have much more I could say about this character, but let's just watch and see.

: It has stood unconquered for generations. Its defenses are legendary. It is the jewel of Grado's fortifications, and its walls have never been breached.

: And if we don't capture it, any attack on the capital will be pointless. Tell me what you see, Seth. Do we have the power to take it?

: It's a daunting task. The enemy has the advantage of both terrain and numbers.

: But what about in morale?

: Do you suspect the soldiers may be unwilling to fight?

: Anything's possible. This war is a sudden thing, but Grado and Renais had long been friendly. Before these hostilities, our nations were allies... No, closer even than that. This is the emperor's war, but the hearts of the people are not so swift to change.

: He was the one who taught me what I know about fighting with the lance. Duessel's sympathies are sure to remain with Renais--and with our cause. He is loyal to Grado, but he has no love of war. I'm sure he will speak with me.

: ...

: And more than that, Prince Lyon has been my friend for years. He can be timid at times and perhaps was unable to oppose his father in this. But I'm sure he detests this fighting and shares my opinions.

: Prince Ephraim...

: There must be some Grado soldiers within the castle who do not want to fight. If we can rush the fort and seize the throne room, I believe they will surrender.

: ...Optimism here may be deadly. Still, it's a far better plan than challenging the main army face-to-face.

: Eirika is on her way to Rausten to help end this conflict. We cannot afford to wait here for much longer. We must take this fort and then press on to the capital itself. Let's go!

I know I've used this joke before, but pretty much every fortress in this game seems to be missing one key component. Not even a moat with sharks in it or anything.

: Their commander is... Prince Ephraim of Renais!

: Renais? This whole thing stinks. My younger sister and her husband were living in Renais... What is the emperor thinking, starting this war? I think--

: Ah!

: Losing your nerve? The punishment for treason is harsh. You'll burn at the stake.

: B-but-- It's not just me! Even General Duessel is opposed to this war!

: Duessel? You'd side with that washed-up coward? And who is your commanding officer? Is it Duessel? Come on, out with it!

: Y-you are, Sir Gheb.

: That's right. So that should make it clear whose orders you follow, eh? You got that, dolts? If you do, then shut up and get in formation. No one cares whether you minnows live or die anyway. Got it?

: That's a horrible thing to say!

: And who are you supposed to be? Your name! Out with it!

: I-I'm Amelia... I was assigned to this fort today! I am a soldier of Grado. I am not a slave!

: What's this now? You're a girl? You've got a lot of nerve talking like that to your commander, recruit. Looks like I'm going to have to teach you about the chain of command.

: Ah...

: Grrr! Stinking interruptions... Form up, you useless worms. Don't let those dogs near the throne. Grado cannot afford to lose a brilliant tactician of my stature! No one will blink if any of you worthless toads dies. But if I die...You should be happy to fight, kill, and die in my service!

: But this...this is wrong!

: That's the lot of a soldier. We're pawns in the games of kings and emperors. We fight as ordered, and we die as ordered. That's it. C'mon, time to go.

But before we can start, there is the small matter of Tana.

: I came all this way to help Ephraim, and I end up getting captured again. That General Gheb had the creepiest eyes...and that laugh! Oh! Hurry, Ephraim... Please. Hurry and rescue me.

Frankly, it's a good thing that I've had an entire playthrough to witness Tana's usefulness firsthand, else I'd be harping on this a lot more. Besides...

It's not like she has any weapons right now anyway. Fire Emblem, unlike some RPG's I can name, usually is pretty good about removing the weapons of characters who are thrown in jail, and whenever you actually do get the weapons back, usually they make a token effort to explain why.

One of the cavaliers has Tana's Heavy Spear, but there's no javelin for her in this run. This is going to make it harder to level her up, since we have to traipse a long way across the battlefield to get to her.

And I mean a long way. We can control Tana while she's in prison, but that's just inviting the mage there to start nuking her repeatedly. Best to just leave her where she is for now.

Notice those boxes I drew in red, by the way? That's part of a special gimmick this chapter has, and not one I especially enjoy.

Oh, and those priests?

Sleep staves make a much earlier appearance here than they did in Eirika's mode. The priests don't have a lot of range with them, due to their low magic, but it's still something to look out for.

Honestly, if you can wade through the plethora of annoyances the game throws at you along the way, Gheb himself is a complete pushover. Just blast him repeatedly with Lute, and he can't do a thing about it. Almost sad, really.

Let's get started.

Not a very promising beginning.

Doesn't matter though, since Gilliam actually got some speed. Not enough to fight most cavaliers head-to-head, but he can handle a number of other classes now without getting doubled.

And Natasha carries on. I'm very happy about how she's been doing.

We're not even in the front door when we already become a target for our first sleep bishop.

He hits.

I depend a bit much on Ephraim's weapon for this chapter, but it's only natural, since we're drowning in knights and cavaliers.

By the end of the game, everyone will have an implausibly accurate axe-shaped hole in their forehead.

I do have to wonder sometimes if the readouts are accurate for these chances. Anything 50% and above seems to almost always be a guaranteed hit for the enemy team, while we're doing that.

Oddly, despite the fact that Forde has better resistance, Kyle's the one who ends up dodging every charge of Sleep thrown at him. Weird...

I know I really shouldn't, but I still hold hope that Colm will make something of himself someday.

That's a step in the right direction, at any rate.

Lute's a real help for this chapter. Her magic's quite powerful at this point.

And getting even better.

So you remember those boxes I drew up on the map? Those are a special kind of trigger. Instead of checking to see whether someone crossed the boundary, it instead sees if someone's within the zone at the end of the player phase, and if so, cavaliers arrive. Fortunately, the starting room only spawns reinforcements once. We won't be so lucky with the next one.

And crossing an invisible line spawns this shaman and another one next turn. They're not a real problem.

My two previous failures have taught me something important about this stage: it's a very good idea to stop and let enemies come to you.

If you charge your units out, it just makes it easier for the enemy to surround your weak units and pick them off, but if you leave your sturdy folks out in front...

This particular area is a good spot to hunker down not only because it's a thin chokepoint, but also because it lets you put your ranged attack to work.

You really want to go fast, don't you, Vanessa?

This one I'm okay with.

At this point, Forde has recovered from sleep. It occurs to me that I should have bought a Restore staff on the world map. Self-imposed limitations or not, having one before this battle eliminates a lot of stress.

Odd focus on defense, given her growths. I don't mind though. It means she'll be able to take a hit or two.

So...tell me what I'm doing wrong here. If it helps any, I should let you know that the knights have javelins.

Yup. I got really lucky there.

Effective weaponry is key for this fight. We've only got so many magicians.

And Franz's luck, or lack thereof, is really becoming a liability. One thing that the trainees always brought to the plate was a guaranteed giant pool of luck. They would just not be critted.

Gilliam despises this level.

Speaking of trainees, opening the door has prompted everyone inside to come charging at me, including the young Amelia herself.

: Ah! Don't make fun of me! I'm a soldier of Grado! Prepare yourself, Frelian dog!

: W-wait a minute!


: Oof...

: Are, are you all right? It's not surprising you fell over from that stance. Can you get up?

: Sh-shut up!

: Did you hurt your knee? I know how it feels. I did it often enough as a recruit myself. To be honest, I still do it more than I should.

: ...

: I'm Franz. I'm a Knight of Renais. What's your name?

: I'm Amelia.

: Amelia, do you think I could ask you to surrender? This may be odd, but I really have no desire to fight you.

: ...

: I get the feeling you don't want to fight either. Am I right?

: I... B-but... I've heard Prince Ephraim takes female prisoners and uses them as palace slaves. If I surrender, will I be forced to work in the palace, too?

: N-no, don't be silly! Prince Ephraim would never do such a thing...I think...

: You think?

: No, he wouldn't! Of course not. You have my word of honor.

: ...Well, you seem sincere. I'll trust you, Franz.

Get used to those ugly rumors. It only gets better from here.

More cavaliers. This part can get a little dicey.

Put short, if you don't wait out the advancing enemy troops, you're going to get caught in a nasty crossfire. Holding your ground is key in this fight.

Dodged another bullet here. Franz may be tough, but he's shortening my life.

Get that crit out of here.

There's a longbowman with a red gem here. If I ran Colm around, I could snatch it from him, but...

Honestly, 2500G isn't worth the trouble, especially with all the other craziness.

I'm just glad that one of my magicians is actually getting HP.

And you can always depend on Ephraim. He's really carrying the team right now.

Once we clear out that crossfire corridor, there's only one last hurdle to jump. It's a biggie, but we'll manage.

As I mentioned, the trigger for summoning reinforcements only activates when a character is standing within the zone. We're going to keep everyone out of that area until we're ready, having them duck in and out of the cells to avoid it.

We're within range of the second Sleep staff, and since this guy has a Psychic staff as well...

I decide to nip this in the bud.

Notice that there's a cracked wall in Tana's cell. We can use that to get her out safely, though the knight there has a door key if we want to go that route.

Just be careful. That myrmidon has a Killing Edge, and he's standing at just the right distance to attack whoever engages the knight at melee.

Skipping forward a turn or two, it begins...

Three cavaliers from the bottom, one from the top. In normal mode, this'd be the extent of the reinforcements, but since this is hard, we're in for two more turns of this, for a total of 12 cavaliers. This map loves its horses.

Not much to this chapter's treasures. Aside from the money, it's just a Restore staff and an Ocean Seal, pretty much the same sort of things we'd have gotten from Eirika's Chapter 9.

I arm Tana here, but she doesn't level up this chapter. That's the problem with getting her so late, compared to Eirika's route, where she just jumps right into your party.

Since the cavaliers spawning in the prison all have steel swords, Joshua's got the task of stemming the tide.


Meanwhile, that Killer Lance makes the rounds some more.

Not the best attitude to take when your replacement has a lot of room to grow, Vanessa.

And wouldn't you know it, but the best way to fight nine cavaliers is to place them into a chokepoint. Surprised?

But before that, Franz's lucky streak continues.

Perhaps not so much with levels, though.

This is the way to do it.

So long as she continues powering up that cannon of hers, I'm fine.

Now here's the Ephraim I know and love.

And Joshua gets something decent too. One nice thing about hard mode is that there's a lot more experience to go around, because the game's throwing so many warm bodies at you.

And now it's time to advance.

With the swarm of cavaliers mostly neutralized, all that's left is the stragglers.

Heck yeah!

There's a knight who thinks he's clever guarding the throne room. Considering that and the Horseslayer knight before, it's really a good idea to survey the enemy equipment when planning things out.

Gilliam really needs to step up his game.

And the defense for Lute just keeps on coming. I'm loving this.

It's at this point that I remember that Tana and Ephraim have a conservation together.

What are you talking about? She's been following you for half a dozen turns.

: I came here in hopes of helping you in some way. But while I was looking for you, I got captured by Grado troops.

: Is that so? Well, I'm glad to see you're unharmed. Tana, you should head back to Castle Frelia immediately. King Hayden must be worried about you.

: No! Ephraim, I came all this way so I could help you!

: And yet, here I am, helping you.

: Ah, well... Yes, that may be true, but-- But I've been so worried about you, Ephraim!

: I see. Oh, please don't look at me with those teary eyes. If you're really determined to help, then you're welcome to come with us. But you must promise me not to try anything reckless.

: Ephraim... Thank you. I knew that you would understand how I feel.

I guess this is partially why I wasn't too fond of Tana. In Eirika's route, she's a lot more assertive and spunky, forcing her way into the group with determination, while here, she's making Bambi eyes at Ephraim and getting captured again. She's the same character, mind you, just introduced in two different ways.

Now then, it's the moment I've been long awaiting. Remember, Gheb has no long-range weapon, so I can just peg him as many times as I want.

: You piece of trash, what do you think you're doing?

Whatever I want to! Gosh!

Garcia helps too.

And since Tana's not skilled enough to use the Axereaver, I have Kyle finish Gheb instead.

: Th-that's not poss--


Nothing left to do, other than getting Natasha this unorthodox level and building up supports some more.

: Bring me one of the prisoners. I have a question I need answered.

: I'm going to ask you a question. If you've no wish to answer, remain silent. If you wish this conflict to end quickly, however, you will cooperate.

: ...What do you want?

: Why has Grado invaded Renais?

: ...I can't say. This war began on the emperor's orders. Soldiers like me haven’t the foggiest idea what he's after.

: Then tell me this: where is General Duessel?

: In the capital. The general's been opposed to this war from the start. He's been pleading with the emperor for days now, but the emperor ignores him. They say some are questioning the general's loyalty. He's putting his standing--and his life-- in danger by being so vocal.

: Is that so... Well, it appears that General Duessel remains the same true man I knew before. What about Prince Lyon? Where's he been through all of this? Why didn't he do anything to temper his father's aggression?

Pretend that you're shocked.

: What did you say? That's ridiculous! I know Prince Lyon well. No one hates fighting more than he does. He would never do anything to trigger all this bloodshed!

: Prince Ephraim, please calm down.

: ...I'm sorry.

: Seth, I intend for us to press on toward the capital. At some point, I expect we'll find either Duessel or Lyon. I'm sure we can convince them to join us in stopping Emperor Vigarde.

: Understood. But I have misgivings, my prince. General Duessel and Prince Lyon are both men of Grado. If we are forced into conflict with them...

: It won't happen. Duessel was my teacher, and I know he is a man of character. And I've known Lyon since we were children. He, Eirika, and I are old friends.

: ...

: I understand your concerns. If worse comes to worst and steel is drawn, I will not hesitate. I'll fight and kill anyone who thinks to oppose me. Are you satisfied, Seth?

: Yes... I apologize for my rudeness. Your father is gone, and that means you are king of Renais. There is no other. I just ask that you not throw yourself into needless danger.

: I hear you. The decisions I make affect more than my own life. Once this war is finished, I will rebuild Renais with Eirika. That is my mission.

: What is it?

: You must return to Frelia. I cannot take you any farther on this journey.

: What? No. I want to stay with you...

: No, Myrrh. I'm continuing on to the Grado capital. It's going to be very dangerous. I can't protect you--not as well as I'd like to, anyway.

: Everything comes from that direction. I can feel my lost dragonstone... And that's not all. The dark energy still flows unchecked... I cannot go home while it stains the air...

: But...

: Please, Ephraim.

: ...Very well. Ah, I simply cannot refuse you anything. Your eyes remind me too much of Eirika. You must not stray from my side, do you understand?

: Yes, I will not stray...

...Let's go to the next scene.

: I am ready, Your Majesty. In your service, I am prepared to do--

: Duessel has left for Bethroen. Take a battalion and follow him.

: Understood. When I arrive, I will place my troops at his disposal.

: No... You will not. You will strike Duessel down.

: Wha...

: Duessel is a traitor. He has abandoned his country and sided with Renais. The punishment for treason is death.

: B-but... General Duessel a traitor? That's just not possible! There must be a mistake...

: ...

: No... I did not mean that you are mistaken, Your Majesty. But...but...

: Selena. You have your orders. You will execute Duessel.

: ...Your Majesty...

: ...

: When Your Majesty saw fit to make me a general, you shared with me some words of wisdom. I remember the moment quite clearly. You told me the role of an imperial general is that of the shield, not the blade. We are here to protect our citizens, you said--not the threaten our neighbors. I have never forgotten your words, Your Majesty. I have held them to my breast. They govern my every action as general. Your Majesty, that sentiment is still alive, and--

: Go.

: ...I humbly acknowledge your orders. Your Majesty... I am the empire's servant. I am Your Majesty's vassal. I am General Selena, the Fluorspar of the Grado Empire.

You might notice a general theme running through Ephraim's route just from this one chapter alone, one of loyalty. The people of Grado are having to choose between their duty to their Emperor or following their own moral codes, and some are more capable than others. But we'll see more of that...

Next Time: How do you improve ballistae? By placing them on tiny boats in Chapter 10: Turning Traitor.

Extra Conversations

In addition to Franz, Ephraim also has a way to recruit Amelia.

: You're a Grado soldier? But you're just a child.

: I am not a child! I'm a soldier of Grado, and I will defeat every soldier of Frelia I meet!

: Is that so? Guess I'm ready then.

: Um...

: ...Is that the stance you're going to use? You'll drop your lance that way. I'm Prince Ephraim of Renais. Why don't you surrender and come with me?

: Wha-what are you going to do to me?!

: Calm down. As long as you don't try to stab me, I won't do a thing to harm you.

: You lie! You're a liar! Everyone knows about Prince Ephraim of Renais. He's a beast who attacks any woman he sees...

: ...Right, this has gone far enough. I am not going to hurt you. If you're scared, throw down your weapon and run away. But...If you're willing to listen, I'd like to ask for your help. You must realize this whole war is madness, right? Something is wrong in Grado.

: ...I-I'm...

And then she simply joins. I like Amelia's portrayal in this chapter compared to Eirika's, since she actually is shown to have reservations about being a soldier beforehand, giving her more of a justification for just flipping sides like that.