Part 43: Chapter 15B: Scorched SandChapter 15B: Scorched Sand
Grado's General Caellach has attacked Jehanna Hall, forcing its surrender.
Though Eirika and her troops have left the Hall, Grado's forces pursue them relentlessly. Trapped in the burning desert, enemy forces close in on them from all sides.
With no time to wait for Frelia's troops, Ephraim leaves for Jehanna immediately. He must go to his sister's aid.
: Blast! I don't know what's happened, but... I'd better get to Eirika and the others as soon as possible.
: I've discovered which of Grado's generals lead the forces surrounding the hall. Valter the Moonstone and Caellach the Tiger Eye. Two of the strongest of the empire's generals, with near-peerless forces. Above all else, we must rescue Princess Eirika, and yet... If you fall, Prince Ephraim, we're all finished.
: And this accursed sand... Most of the units can't get proper footing and are being slowed down. Mounted units are having the worst time, as their movement is severely limited. Some of us can move better than others, though... A combination of magic wielders and sky riders should give us some advantage. Whatever we do, we must move cautiously.
I'm with you, Seth. Thanks to that not-so-carefully-woven-into-the-plot exposition about how deserts work, we now know not to bring his wordy self onto the map. Good to know.
: I understand. This is just like the battle for Renvall. We either rescue Eirika or defeat all the enemy troops. If we accomplish either goal, victory is ours. Let's move!
Meanwhile, you remember how Riev was consulting with Valter on Eirika's route? Apparently, Lyon was talking to Caellach at the exact same time.
: Ah, Prince Lyon. Thank you, Your Highness, for gracing me with...your royal...er...
: You can stop. There's no need for you to put on airs. You were made general for your military prowess, not your flowery speech.
: And an honor it is. You know, Prince Lyon, you've got a lot of nerve. You're really worked over your dear friend the princess of Renais. Are you satisfied?
: Is there some reason you ask?
: No, not really. I just wanted to see how you'd react. That's all.
: She... Eirika has always been a very important person in my life. Both she and her brother have been friends of mine for a long time. Tell me, Caellach, do you have any friends to speak of?
: An old mercenary I fought with, went by the name of Joshua. He was a fool and a scoundrel, but now that he's gone, I miss the lad. I don't know where he's at or what he's doing, but...
: Do you miss that life? Do you ever want to be a mercenary again, to see him?
: Nope. The time we worked together was fun and all, but... No. I don't want to end up another no-name mercenary lying dead in a ditch. I'd rather serve the Grado Empire and make a name for myself. I'm going to see how far my axe will take me. And then, one day...
: One day, you'll kill me and be emperor in my stead. Is that it?
: Uh... That's...
: It's all right. Think whatever you like if it helps you do your duty. As long as you do what I assign you to do, I'm happy. But for now, I'm going. You know what you need to do.
: Yep, leave it to me. I am General Caellach, the Tiger Eye of the Grado Imperial Army, after all! Once my prey is within my reach, I never let it escape. Too bad for the princess, but they've no chance of winning. None at all.
Yeah, that conversation was a little awkward too, but if you'd taken Ephraim's route, you wouldn't have known that Joshua had a personal score to settle with Caellach.
Anyway, we're not finished with the plot just yet, because here come Eirika, Saleh, and Innes, fleeing from the palace after the walls were set on fire.
: I'm sorry. Im absolutely powerless here...
: Jehanna Hall has fallen, that much is true. But if we can hold out until Ephraim arrives, we still have a chance of victory.
: And reports place Lady Myrrh at Prince Ephraim's side. It is my duty to protect her. I will not die without having fulfilled my obligation to her.
: You're right... I made a promise, too. I told Ephraim I would live to see him again. We just have to pull together. All of us. We just have to hold out a little longer. If we pool our strength now, I vow that we will all live to see our friends again.
And they shall live, indeed. You've seen this map before. Our objective is to kill everyone.
As with Ephraim, Eirika is automatically boosted to Level 15 for this fight, and she's come out of her offscreen training with quite some improvement. She's not great, but with the weaponry she had before she left, she'll keep herself alive.
Saleh's been raised to Level 4, and he's quite good, albeit very slow. My first priority will be getting him a staff from the nearby shop, since he'll be the only source of healing until the rest of the group gets there.
Gotta say, Innes isn't my favorite prepromote, but he's good enough to hold his own, having been granted two levels as well.
Caellach's tougher across the board, and he's still on a fort, but compared to our team, he's slow. That'll work in our favor, since Rennac will be able to easily swipe his Hoplon Guard.
Valter may seem tougher than Caellach, but he's actually more of a chump, since he's also on a fort, but doesn't get any benefits. People in the thread have been requesting that Innes get the honor of shooting him down once he loses the Fili Shield, and I'm glad to oblige.
And of course, hard mode makes the promoted units around the map a lot more sturdy. We're not walking through these guys. No sir.
We'll want to start by sending the trio over to the left. We've got pegasi coming in shortly, and we want Eirika's group to be alone for as short a time as possible.
And since we start near the village, we can grab the Master Seal right from the get-go. No new dialogue though.
While it is tempting to go straight to Valter, it's a better idea to send the team to back up Eirika first.
The composition of the team can help with that, since we're entirely on foot or in the air this time
Of course, some enemies do move from the east regardless, but nothing that's too dangerous.
Eirika's come a long way, hasn't she?
I'll be training up Knoll this chapter to keep him competitive. It's a good chapter for him and for Vanessa, since the terrain works out to their advantage.
I resent the fact that Innes doesn't have a weaker bow to use. It just feels like a waste to be using a Silver Bow on these rabble.
Get used to seeing this level. Marisa really wanted speed this chapter.
More pointless Luna, but this time, we get it after his death.
Garcia's just a short distance away from hitting level 20. This shaman ought to do it...
And with some assistance from Tethys, we have revitalized an old war hero.
It's time to come out of retirement.
Promoting to a Warrior gives Garcia the ability to use bows. Given that they're a rarity in this army, along with axes, Garcia is now filling two understaffed niches.
And the looting begins. You've seen where they all are. The Silence and Warp staves, the Killer Bow, the Wyrmslayer, the Swiftsoles, Metis's Tome, the Silver Card, and the Eclipse tome. Everything's in the same place, and there aren't any real obstacles to Rennac's looting. It's just slower without Colm.
I know I mentioned before how the Silver Bow was unsuited to these guys, but big numbers are cool.
On the negative end, Innes takes a real beating this chapter, but that's to be expected. After all, he can't fight back.
At about this point, the pegasi show up. You know the deal. Their modus operandi is steel lances and kamikaze charges.
Fortunately, our fliers are here too.
Oh Vanessa, you'll never catch up that way.
Meanwhile, Knoll's luck doesn't budge, but his more important stats do. I could get behind this.
The thread voted almost 2 to 1 for Garcia to be a Warrior instead of a Hero. And why is that? Partially because he's more strength-focused, and a Hero is more suited to an all-around type like Gerik, but also...
Because Warriors are whirling deathcopters.
Getting a little crowded up here.
Fortunately, we've got the tools for the job.
Though Tana does almost get zerg rushed. You don't want your squishies to be too close to this crowd of peggy sues, since they WILL suicide rush anyone they think they can kill in a turn, even if many of them die in the process.
Since Eirika's not the best at fighting lances, she performs one of the many talk actions you can do in this chapter.
: Tana! You've come as well?!
: Yes, I came all the way with Ephraim. I'm just so happy to see you're safe.
: Tana. Thank you so much for coming to my aid.
: Well, of course I came. That's natural. We're friends after all!
I like you, Tana. You've really grown on me.
Though really, doing this LP has given me an appreciation for a number of characters.
Vanessa's on the weaker side, so she gets to be the one with the Spear. It's powerful, it's accurate, and it's lighter than the Short Spear or the Javelin. It's perfect for her.
Despite almost dying on the enemy phase, like I mentioned, Tana continues to get stronger. A pegasus knight shouldn't be so powerful.
And Lute's gotten her last level before promotion.
A lot of people in the thread figured that, since Lute's magic is so high, leaving her with the Mage Knight's caps would be such a waste.
Besides, you can't really argue with those defense bonuses. We've got frontliners with less defense than that.
Oh, that's not good. Who'd you steal that level from, Vanessa?
The group remaining in the south side is creeping up north. I know what's coming, and we don't want to remain down there when it arrives.
I won't say that Shamen don't want speed, but they'd also like some defense and skill.
Jeez, everyone's suddenly going sour on me. That's not good.
Efforts to obtain the Dragon Axe were surprisingly successful. Innes didn't even get scratched by this guy.
So as I was saying, this crowd comes in, accompanied by a paladin, on the 8th turn.
Mages too, which is surprising, considering that in Eirika's route, we had to face shamen. What a strangely specific thing to change.
He's irritating as ever. Saleh's lucky enough not to have to worry about crits, but he's not accurate enough to get guaranteed hits.
Nothing to report concerning the huge crowd of reinforcements. They don't even hit Tethys.
And Eirika's looking more and more like a myrmidon every day.
It doesn't really matter in this fight, since Caellach's got such luck that crits don't matter anyway, but passing the Hoplon Guard to other characters drastically increases the number of people who can take this guy on.
She's got a 35% growth rate on strength, but you'd think it was 15-25% by how she's been doing.
I'm sad to say that Ephraim does end up killing someone this chapter, but mages are people you can't let roam on this chapter, since they can go anywhere they want.
Have I mentioned how much I appreciate Rennac's physical stats? He's not great, but at least I can send him against bosses without too much worry.
Come on, Natasha! You can't choke now. You're so close.
In order to speed the process along for Saleh, I have Cormag assist.
Too bad that it still takes about half a dozen more turns to drop him.
: Tana? Why are you here? I told you to remain at Castle Frelia.
: Don't talk to me like that. I'm a fully sworn knight of Frelia, you know? I came all the way here with Prince Ephraim.
: What? With that man?
: Brother! Ephraim's a good person. We can talk about this later. I still see enemy troops about. I think we should join forces and fight together.
: Working together is, of course, the best strategy. But don't do anything foolish, Tana. Who knows what Father would think.
: I understand. You try not to be overly heroic yourself, Brother.
Yeah, the only way to salvage this is to make her an assassin. There's no way she's becoming a swordmaster like this.
And Saleh makes a very compelling argument for why Lute should just take his job.
Sure, he's got the skill, but she's got speed and raw power. Moreover, she's wearing a Body Ring.
Life goes on...
And the AI finally gets its own "The RNG hates me" moment.
But that's fine. It has the last laugh.
Hey, you remember that ineffectual Eclipse guy with the Guiding Ring? Still here, and still ineffectual.
With all these wyverns flying around, Garcia gets to try out his new bow.
Another magic cannon? Don't mind if I do.
There's a troubadour with 2 magic, and they gave her a Berserk staff. I'm sure that if I'd tricked her into using her Mend staff instead, I'd have gotten it off of her, but I don't use status staves.
I suppose it goes without saying, but Eirika and Ephraim can chat like the clingy twins they are.
: Brother? Is that really you? Youre not some phantom, are you?
: No, its really me. Hold. Enemies approach.
: Ephraim...Even when we were children, you were always there to protect me.
Protect you? From what?! You were so sheltered before starting this adventure that you didn't even know that there were bandits in Renais, and you had a loving brother and a scholarly gentleman who you got to hang around with all the time. Sheesh, girl.
Acquiring the Devil Axe is a bit of a nasty affair, since the weapon's might, combined with his brute strength, gives the Berserker a total of 40 damage. Though given his luck, he'd be more likely to hit himself in the shins with it.
After what seems like forever, we finally come to an end with this.
: Bla... Blast... A bit more, and...a crown... would have been...mine...
Yeah, no kidding. If it had gone for much longer, Lyon would have died of boredom while waiting.
You really need to work on that speed, lad. Everyone else is getting nothing but speed, so why don't you?
Case in point.
Oh hey! Skill! That's original.
And Natasha concludes her training with a rather odd level for the Cleric.
After failing to hit anyone with his long-range dark magic, the Eclipse shaman will gladly wait several turns for Rennac to catch up.
And hey! That's just the sort of thing he needs to rob Valter too.
But first, who'd like an incentive to never use Vanessa again?
That way, we could just leave this permanently on Tana.
Now then, Lute softens up valter while wearing the Guard, and then Cormag subs in. Remember that Valter is a Wyvern Knight, so even if you're wearing the Hoplon Guard, he can also just Pierce you instead.
It would be just my luck if Lute decided that 21 magic was sufficient for her. It probably is, but I'd like to cap her magic before the end of the game, if possible.
: Even you have turned your back on the emperor?
: Don't tell me you stand there thinking you can beat me. You're not strong enough. You know this to be true.
: If you swear fealty to Grado again, I may let you live. You don't want to die an oath breaker, do you? Well? Will you crawl before me and beg for forgiveness?
: ...Yes, I have broken my vows, Valter. And yes, it may be I who falls when we tilt lances... But a dog like you will never see me crawl.
: Brave words from a traitor. Let's see if your lance is as sharp as your tongue.
It isn't. Valter's fast enough to double him, leaving him at 1 HP.
And wounding him in his pride.
Now then, since you folks requested that Innes take the final blow...
And he does, in an unnecessarily critical fashion...
The RNG hates hype.
: Urggh... Gaaaaah!
: You've done well, Eirika.
: Thanks to you, Ephraim. Ah... Wait a moment. I've something to give you.
: These are...
: These are the Sacred Twin relics of Jehanna. The ice sword Audhulma and the wind blade Excalibur.
: Jehanna's Sacred Twins? But it seems like we were too late... Jehanna Hall has fallen.
: Yes, and Queen Ismaire died resisting Grado.
Awesome! Lute's going to love that, and whoever promotes first will enjoy the sword too.
: -perhaps this would be a good time to share information. I'm sure we all are most anxious to learn of what has happened.
We've seen the briefing scene and Saleh's reunion with Myrrh, so let's just skip right to the end here, eh?
Next Time: It's time to kill Orson again and spontaneously grow a horse in Chapter 16: Ruled by Madness.
Total Resets: 38
: Princess Eirika, are you well?
: Seth! If you're here...
: Prince Ephraim is safe as well. Princess Eirika, we will stop the remaining enemy soldiers here. Would you please take caution and think of your own safety?
: Thank you, Seth. You've saved me so many times since the fall of Renais...
: It is my duty. Let's go, Princess Eirika.
: Ah! Teacher.
: Ewan? What are you doing here?
: I came with Prince Ephraim and his friends. I've done a lot of good work, Teacher.
: Is that so... Well, if you all hadn't shown up, I'm sure we'd be dead now. You've saved us, Ewan. Thank you. I am in your debt.
: Do you mean that? As a reward, will you teach me some more powerful magic?
: ...I suppose I should at that. But all in good time, Ewan.
: It's been a long time, Caellach.
: Is that really you, Joshua? How's long's it been?
: About two years... What've you been doing? You know, that innkeeper's still mad you stiffed him.
: Oh, please... You're telling me that old dog's still alive? ...How's the rest of the troop doing?
: They're getting by. Some of them ended up feeding the crows, though...
: Is that so? Those were good times, weren't they, Joshua? We were terrors on the battlefield and worse off it.
: Yeah, we were. You'd get carried away and pick fights with me... You always said the same thing: "I will be king!"
: Yeah. That's my dream. And I'll do anything to make it come true. What do you say, Joshua? Let's team up again? Leave those losers you're with and work for me.
: Sorry, can't do it. I'm not going to let you use me for anything.
: Bah... You're a cold fish, aren't you. That's the one thing that hasn't changed about you.
: You haven't changed much either. You're still as shameless as ever.
: Ha ha! That's the truth. Well...You want to get started?
: Mm... Sure.
: I'm stronger then I used to be. No offense, but you're not in my league anymore. Don't hate me, Joshua.
: Same to you.
As mentioned, Joshua doesn't know that Caellach killed his mother this time around, so their reunion is slightly more jovial.