Part 25: Backstabbed
Welcome back. Last time on Last Scenario, we fended off a multi-pronged attack by Drakovic and the Republic, only to learn that the entire attack was a distraction, and that in the chaos the Republic had easily taken control of the Kaiser Pass, cutting us off from the capital. Meanwhile, in Herzog, Augustus killed Helga by poisoning her wine, leaving her faction of the Empire without a leader. With our access to the area around the capital denied, the Republic is now free to attack Herzog, and with the confusion in the capital they may just succeed. How are we going to deal with this situation? And what's going to happen in Herzog with the Empress's death? It's time to find out.
We begin this update at what appears to be Augustus's coronation ceremony. Looks like all that succession talk last update didn't matter one bit, Augustus is just taking power for himself.
... swear complete allegiance to the country and its citizens, regardless of class, rank or status, that you will fulfill your duties in peace and wartime, and defend the nation from any threat, that you will uphold justice and rule wisely, fairly and honestly?
Then I hereby crown you Emperor Augustus, 18th emperor of the North Empire and all its territories.
No, it is a tragic day. By taking this crown, I am ending a long and respected dynasty. Both Emperor Leopold and his daughter, Empress Helga, have been taken from us by the enemy. But we cannot let sorrow cloud our minds. This is no time to drown ourselves in grief. We must look towards the future. No, rather, we must create a future for ourselves with our own hands. What we need is swift action and decisive leadership. The enemy is hoping for us to descend into chaos. We cannot let them win. We must stand together as one, and set aside our animosities.
Fade to black...
(The Coronation track continues playing here at a lower volume.)
He's right, though. Even the nobility can't deny anymore that the Empire's whole existence is in danger. They have to support him, because he's the country's last hope.
That's the devious part. They can't get rid of him now because they know we're already at the limit. Helga could be disposed of because she was a bad empress, but we need stability more than anything now.
And if we do win the war, Augustus's victory will make his position untouchable anyway. Anyway... no matter how you look at it, we're better off with him as emperor. At least he's competent.
But don't forget, he was prime minister under Empress Helga. He's to blame for our situation too. And now look, he's painting her as the bad guy when he did nothing to stop her.
Don't say it out loud, but word is that Augustus had Helga killed himself.
Hmph. I wouldn't put it past him.
You know what I think? I think he intentionally let her ruin the Empire so he could dispose of her and seize power himself.
Don't you think that's going a bit far? Ah, well... I don't know either.
Forgive me for these words. I spoke too rashly. You came from the other direction... Weren't you at the coronation?
No, I had... other things to do.
Anyway, congratulations on your promotion, sir. We are all proud to serve under you.
Yes. As long as you are behind the new emperor, we will be fine. We know you'll do what's right.
Please, excuse us.
No, there's nothing I can do. It's better this way. I'm guilty as well.
Is that it? Is it really just that one thing holding me back? Those men were right. I know what I have to do.
Fade to black...
I will not hide the truth from you, Your Highness. Our situation is very bleak indeed. The Republic is in full control of the area around the capital. They are weakened, but still powerful. We know little about what's going on in Herzog, except that Prime Minister Augustus has taken the throne. Even if he can bring order to the capital in time, they are at a severe disadvantage. Worst of all, the Kaiser Pass was our only way to reach Herzog, and it fell into the hands of the Republic. At our current strength we are more than a match for the Republic, but as long as they control the pass...
I see... What do you suggest, General?
If this situation remains, the Republic will lay siege to the capital and force their surrender. Our only hope is to recapture the Kaiser Pass and reach the capital before this happens.
But the pass can't be invincible, can it? There has to be a way.
They have stationed a large brigade there to prevent our passage at any cost. They are aware of its value. A direct assault is the only option, but it would be a very costly battle.
We have to do it.
Aren't you thinking the same thing? There's no other way.
Indeed, but our losses would be heavier than ever before in this war. You must realize, Your Highness...
That I'm possibly sending my men to their deaths. I am very well aware of that, General. It's exactly because of that reason that I've been afraid to make such decisions up to now. After all, how can I send my people into battle, knowing many will die, while I sit here in safety?
Your Highness... even at your age, I am stunned by your wisdom. It is exactly as you say. But would this sacrifice be worth it? If we wait, a better opportunity may present itself.
But it may also get worse. So far, we've only been on the defensive against the Republic. I think that, for once, I need to be resolute. This enemy commander is not one to give us chances. If we aim straight for the capital, I think it will motivate everyone to try their hardest. Do you... disagree with me, General? It's a bad idea, isn't it?
Your Highness... this is the first time you have ever questioned my decisions. You have finally begun to stand up for yourself and have confidence in your ideas.
Fade to black...
In only a few days, 75% of our total forces will mobilize and directly attack the Kaiser Pass. From there, we will continue to the imperial capital of Herzog and drive the Republic off the continent. Unless you have very well-grounded opposition, this is the plan.
I agree with it. Drakovic is not someone we can beat by waiting for a good chance.
If we succeed, what will we do about the capital itself?
I firmly believe that if we can liberate Herzog from the Republic forces, the people will welcome us.
Let's hope you're right.
In any case, I want to ask you people to travel to the Kaiser Pass ahead of time to inspect the area. We will follow soon.
Good. Focus your attention on pacifying the neighboring villages. We will move further soon.
We're in the middle of a meeting. What is it?
It's an urgent message from the homeland!
An urgent message? Give it to me.
Commander? What does it say? Is it bad news?
Fade to black...
Welp, not much to do now but head over to the Kaiser Pass. After a brief stop in Kohlen to pick up some Green Herbs and Tents, we arrive at our destination.
But things aren't exactly in the state we were expecting them to be.
It's awfully quiet. Something's not right here.
It's not just quiet. There's not a single soldier in sight. What about the enemy brigade that was supposed to be waiting here? They wouldn't just abandon the pass.
It has to be a trap, right? There's no other way.
It's definitely suspicious... but I'm not sure. This isn't Drakovic's style. He doesn't give away his intentions so easily. If this were a trap, he'd make us believe that there's nothing out of the ordinary.
But what if he knew you'd think that way? If it's too suspicious to be a trap, maybe it's still a trap after all.
What could they accomplish this way?
Maybe the soldiers are waiting in ambush on top of the cliffs.
There's no point. They only wanted to keep us out of here. Either way, if that were the plan, they would've at least given us a false sense of security. The way it is now, it's too obvious. We could just send scouts into the mountains to check.
Maybe so, but we're not getting anywhere. The question is: why is the pass deserted?
There's no advantage to doing this, which means they didn't leave voluntarily. The only way we can find out what's going on is by moving on. This isn't a trap. I'll put my life on it.
Okay... We'll see if there are any clues about what happened. If not, we'll wait for General Grauss.
Guess there's no other option. We head on in.
The interior of the pass is just as deserted as the exterior, though there is a handy save point nearby.
But there are a few familiar faces waiting for us further ahead.
You know these men?
Damn right we do! They're from the Rosehart Kingdom. They kidnapped Hilbert's sister to get their hands on Lorenza!
To be precise, we are Special Agent Helio and Special Agent Earp... Number Two and Three respectively of the Royal Army's Omega unit. Now that you mention it, I'm glad you decided to come here with the girl. It's very convenient.
Enough, Helio. Just stick to the plan. The boss said capturing the girl no longer has priority. Hilbert, we are here to stop anyone from passing through. Retreat at once, or we will use force.
Why, you!! Hilbert! I won't take any orders from Kingdom lackeys! Let's show them!
BOSS FIGHT: Helio & Earp
Yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man.
As you might expect, Helio and Earp have both beefed themselves up since our last fight with them back in the Republic. Most notably, Earp has received a substantial upgrade to his VIT, and Helio to his RES.
Hilbert kicks off the battle by stealing Helio's hairtie. Oddly enough the Hair Ribbon is actually a helmet, not an accessory, and not only does it somehow have better VIT than actual metal helmets, but it also grants +10 SPD to the wearer. Matilda will be putting this on once we're done here.
As before, Helio's main method of attack is with bombs. His most dangerous attack is Fire Bomb, which deals a good 100 damage to the entire party.
He also has access to Lightning Claws, dealing a good chunk of damage to a single character.
And he's not shy about buffing himself, either. Hurry in particular makes him faster than Hilbert, which can be quite threatening if our party's not in good shape.
And to top things off, he counters all magic (though not physical attacks) with Cryosleep, inflicting 50 ice damage and sleep to the character who targeted him. If he's feeling feisty he can use it as a regular attack as well. This plus his high RES makes him a pain to kill with magic, even though second-tier spells like Fireball deal more damage than any of our characters can do physically.
On the other side, Earp has a number of powerful attacks of his own, but he's not nearly as threatening as Helio is, mostly due to the fact that even Matilda is faster than him. Still, Cleaving Strike is a very strong physical attack that can KO one of our characters in the blink of an eye.
He's also got Tiger Slice, a decently powerful two-hit combo...
... and a strong regular attack to boot.
Helio's definitely the one you want to take out first in this fight. He's the only one of the pair who can hit the entire party, he can put characters to sleep, and his attacks are much harder to anticipate because he moves in the middle of the round, or at the beginning of it if he Hurries himself. Earp just hits you really hard really slowly.
Once Helio is gone, Hilbert swipes a Purple Herb from Earp on the first try. This Thief Glove thing is really working out.
The battle doesn't become entirely trivial once Helio is down, because Earp will counter all physical attacks with Counter-Attack...
... but magical damage will absolutely wreck him.
Limit Break makes its triumphant return in this fight as well.
And after a few more Fireballs from Lorenza, we're done here.
Winning the battle nets us the new Defensive Drone Hex tile and a Cluster Grenade, the multi-target cousin of the Frag Bombs we've been finding everywhere. Not too shabby.
Apparently getting the shit kicked out of him doesn't do anything to dampen that cheery grin of Helio's.
Helio. We need to fall back. We can't beat them with just the two of us. You know it's useless. Their army's on the way too.
Tch. Humiliated twice by this brat. Earp, we'll return to the castle. We can hold our position from there.
Wait a minute! Not so fast! What in the world were you doing here!?
What happened to the troops at this pass!?
Oh, those soldiers here? That Republic commander pulled out his forces from all bases. As we speak, he's trying to make a last desperate attack on Herzog.
You liar! Why would they do that? Drakovic would never make such a stupid move!
Ah, the reason for it? They probably hope to capture the capital and make it their new base.
No longer have a home...? No way, you can't mean...
Fade to black...
Quick! We have to head for the escape route!
Y-Yes, you're right. We can't stay here any longer. Is the route still safe?
I'll go ahead and check. Please follow me, sir!
I'll take it that's a "no," then.
Colonel Newick. Am I so intimidating that you can't say a word?
Y-You... who are you?
I am General Castor of the Rosehart Royal Forces, leader of this liberation army.
Your citizens are now our citizens, so they will be treated well. You, however...
Newick tries to sidle away, but Castor's partner stops him.
Please? Are you really begging me?
Fade to black...
It's all gone... everything we fought for, fourteen years ago...
Yes. We're going. It's not over yet. We'll be waiting for your army at the imperial capital.
What happened? Do you know anything?
Yes, but I don't really understand. It's the Kingdom. They've gotten involved in this as well.
They... they invaded the Republic.
The Republic? Invaded? Hmph... so the country that tried to take advantage of this civil war got stabbed in the back themselves. They won't get any sympathy from me. They got what they deserved.
That's not all though. The remaining troops here are being gathered for all-or-nothing attack on the capital.
What!? We have no time to waste here. We must advance immediately!
Yes, but we should be careful. There were Kingdom agents here. It looks like they're on the Emperor's side.
I wouldn't be surprised if he was trying to sell out our country. We have to hurry.
Fade to black...
Control is returned to us following the scene. I don't know about you, but I think we need to get to Herzog pronto.
The Republic army is closing in on the city. I want you to send out a strike team to make a quick attack. Their morale is already low. If we can break their spirit early on, we can defeat them. After that, I think we can just stay here and protect the city. They'll give up before long. Those Kingdom bastards... This is supposed to help us? We're only further from home now.
I'm not here to talk about the siege.
Well? What -are- you here to talk about, then?
Look at what we've done to this country. It's shattered, on the brink of destruction. What good is this? What is it all for?
It's temporary, Felgorn. Temporary. There can't be a revolution without some chaos. We just need to overcome this small obstacle. It's for the good of the country. You know that, right? The failing old dynasty had to be replaced.
So you keep telling me, but is that really the reason?
Felgorn, would I lie to you?
You lied to me about Leopold. I refused to believe it at first. I wanted to believe I did it for the good of the Empire. But he didn't cause the war with the Republic. I killed him for crimes he hadn't committed.
Leopold, what was he? A mediocre, forgettable emperor, who never did anything remarkable. He was getting old and weak, barely able to rule anymore. We only sped up the inevitable. Helga would come to power sooner or later. Don't you see? It was necessary. One man's life is but a minor sacrifice for a suffering nation.
To Wilhelm? What are you saying?
That boy is innocent, yet we accused him of Leopold's death only to protect ourselves. He is the rightful heir, he's smart, and he has already rallied most of the people behind him. If you yield to him, the civil war will be over. The Empire will be one, and we will have a good emperor. You may even keep your position as Prime Minister.
Haha... You're serious, aren't you? Felgorn... they know what we have done. They are no fools. The lie that we built in order to save the empire... it will become too large to contain. Do you understand? If we relinquish power, the truth will come out, and the people will not accept it. There is no turning back. There never has been. If it's me or Wilhelm, then it will have to be me.
Yes, I understand now. If only I had understood it earlier. You were right, Augustus. Both of us had our hands stained with blood. We've committed terrible crimes. It doesn't have to come out. If I keep quiet, my reputation as the national hero may remain intact.
When I was young, I swore that I would change things in this country. That's why I followed you. But nothing has changed at all. I gave up everything I stood for, for what? For your quest for power? I can't keep living like this. I followed you silently because I thought I was already beyond redemption. No, it was just that I was afraid, afraid to be seen for what I really am. This pathetic man. I was too concerned about myself, about my own reputation, to see the obvious. I am already too far gone. I realized I had to throw away everything to redeem myself.
If the Empire is in danger, it's my duty to take responsibility. And you, Augustus, are a danger.
Felgorn, do you know what you're doing?
Haha... Of all the people I surrounded myself with, you were the only one I trusted completely. Maybe my only mistake was to think you'd follow me to the end. Felgorn, you were just like me. We were both born with nothing. We achieved everything by ourselves.
I really love this line. He may be a conniving bastard, he may have been willing to say anything and sacrifice almost anyone in his quest for power, but when Augustus told Felgorn that he deserved his position, he honestly believed it. Now that I see this, I realize it's quite likely that that's what drew Augustus to Felgorn in the first place.
But you know... All those nobles, the high and mighty, even Helga herself... They were the most powerful people in the world, but when faced with death, they all groveled before me. They were afraid of dying because they had accomplished nothing in life. I am not like them. I refuse to die in such a way. I'll face my end with pride.
I proved my superiority. I have already won. I regret nothing.
But this isn't enough. I have one more thing to do. Captain!!
Sir, you ca-- Th-The Emperor!? What happened here?
Augustus has been executed for his crimes against the Empire. However, I am guilty as well. Go back, and tell everyone to surrender to Wilhelm. He is the only one who can restore the Empire. That is my last order as your Chief General.
Next time: The Imperial Civil War comes to an end.