Part 23: UPDATE 18: UncertaintyHm. I find myself making UPDATE DOUBLE POSTS more and more often. Troubling.
Anyway we've got a lot to do tonight, let's get started!
Very short organize-screen session this time.
Meister is next in line to become a Paladin, officially making Troi's unit the most overpowered one I have.
Of my two healers, Katreda is the one that sucked more, so she ended up being the unlucky one to clear a spot for Aisha. No worries, though: we certainly haven't seen the last of her.
Anyway, now that we've cleared out more or less the entirety of what was once Nirdam, it's time to take the fight to the Western Division.
Update 18: Uncertainty
First "Thoughts." Now "Uncertainty." I swear to God it's like they're not even trying anymore.
In something of a change of pace, this mission starts off with Hugo and Freddie chilling outside their HQ rather than in the briefing room.
: "Once we liberate this area, Castle Talpaea will be just ahead of us. It won't be long 'til the confrontation with the Western Division..."
: "...Do you think there's a way to avoid battle with the Western Division?"
"What, you mean those guys we've been fighting for like five missions already? Sure, why not?"
Man, you free ONE enslaved ethnic group instead of fighting them, and all of a sudden General Peacenik over here wants to avoid fighting EVERYBODY. If I wasn't so keenly aware of Freddie's skills as a murder engine I'd accuse him of going soft on me.
: "It seems to me that the Western Division is not inclined to fight, either. If either side is willing to talk, then perhaps......"
You too, Hugo? Maybe you guys could have thought of this before we started the mission where we go fight the Western Division, just sayin.
Seriously though, all they're driving at is that we have an in with high command thanks to Freddie's Rich People Connections, and maybe just maybe we can use it to weasel out of doing our job.
Enter some generic.
: "We have a messenger from the Western Division. He says he was sent here by Prince Yumil. He is asking for an audience with you. What shall I do?"
Speak of the devil.
: "...!! Messenger? From Yumil!?"
: "I think it's best that you see him, Freddie."
: "...Yeah, I think so, too. Tell him that we'll listen to what he has to say. ...We'll be right there."
"i'd go with you right now but i have to fix my hair"
"hugo and i like to sit around and braid each other while listening to abba "
: "Yes, sir."
Uh yeah I guess there are actually two messengers? For some reason I guess that Knight we were using as our receptionist didn't think the Sorceress counted as a messenger, I dunno. Anyway we meet them in the briefing room which already has this area's map helpfully plastered to the board. I don't think it's too spoilery for me to say that means this negotiation won't exactly go as planned.
: "This message is from our general."
: "...Am I reading this correctly?"
(There is no 'picking the message up and reading it' animation, Freddie and Hugo just incline their heads for a second)
: "Our general is very kind-hearted. He wants the fruitless battles to end. He also accepts the justification of the Revolutionary Army, and he hopes that this reconciliation will be the first step toward peace."
Well that whole "I'll do anything to win my father's approval" idea went away in a hurry when Yumil heard Freddie was in charge here.
: "Does the Central Division acknowledge this? ...And what about the Nirdamese troops?"
: "We are currently negotiating with the Central Division. The Western Division has decided not to involve the Nirdamese troops in any further battles."
Right, you "decided" that. It's certainly not 'cause I freed all the hostages and they won't do what you say anymore, sure.
: "But that doesn't mean they will be freed. I must assume that the Western Division has no intentions of defying Lodis..."
: "N, no, that's not what was meant. In order to approach the matter peacefully, some things need to have higher priority than others."
To end slavery we'd need, like, a whole 'nother war after this one.
Oh, it's one of those little pointy-hatted dudes. We're KIND of BUSY, plebe, what do you WANT.
: "The enemy troops have begun advancing on us. It appears that the troops are mainly Bolmaukan!"
OH COME ON GAME <>
: "What!? ...You deceived us!?"
This would probably be my first reaction too, but these messengers really don't have any reason to tell Freddie lies that he'd find out weren't true five minutes later. I mean, this could be the enemy commander getting our hopes up and going "PSYCHE" on us for no real reason, but Yumil really isn't that much of a dick. But you know who is?
: "It can't be! The decision was already made not to involve the Nirdamese... It must be that knight from the Central Division... Sir Rhade. He must have pulled rank..."
To clarify: He apparently somehow "pulled rank" on a prince, as in the son of the king, who is in charge of all military operations in this quarter of the country. Yeah I dunno.
: "...We will believe your words. We will believe Prince Yumil. We cannot make the decision; we must speak with our superior... Is that acceptable?"
SPEAKING of which, Hugo, I don't believe you asked if I believed them.
(no seriously though "rhade is being a douchenozzle" is the most believable explanation for anything ever)
: "Most certainly, sir. We will be waiting for a favorable reply."
With that immensely helpful pearl of wisdom dispensed, Hugo launches straight into the mission briefing. Good thing I have him around!
: "Let's get started..."
: "Our plan is to take the fort."
: "It seems that they're setting a trap for us. Be careful approaching the area."
ah yes, the infamous "put a bunch of our guys in a place and wait for them to go there" trap, a cunning ploy indeed
: "There are unconfirmed reports that they did something to the bridge. Be careful crossing it."
i can't tell which bridge you're pointing at if you're still sitting at your chair, perspective doesn't work like that, you'll have to get up or something
: "Rhade will do anything to get revenge for the shame of his failure at Castle Burgund."
fine then i'll just have to GUESS
According to Hugo Rhade is always waiting to get revenge for the shame of some failure or other. ...He kind of has a point.
: "Let's get to work!"
You mean, let's have ME get to work while you go take a nap for two weeks straight. Sure, whatever.
About half a day north of my starting position is the Lawful town of Bella Cula. For my own reasons I'm going to choose to send some people straight there immediately.
While on the way, Dio found a Buckler on the ground. It's both rollerblading equipment and a slight upgrade to the Round Shield, equippable by Fighters, Valkyries, and Leia. Leia's got an elbow with this thing's name all over it. Also, my nothern excursion group, consisting at this point of Dio and Guy, runs into Valleth on the road. Really thought I was done fighting Grapplers by now.
Oh, also there's... these two guys. Maybe I was being a BIT reckless sending two units up here alone immediately. Eh. Amal's unit is boring and we've seen like three exactly like it already.
Heinlein's unit, on the other hand, is so interesting that it requires me to write up not one but TWO new class descriptions. Man, we JUST saw a new Golem species, I gotta write up another one already?
These guys are pretty cool. They're the advanced Doll Master class, they have pretty much the most well-rounded stat gains in the game (second perhaps to Valkyries and their advanced class), and for some unfathomable reason they get three attacks in the front row (two everywhere else). Not entirely sure why you'd put one there, especially since "well-rounded" means "not particuarly optimized for melee combat," but the option's there!
The third tier Golem unit, they just sort of skipped from "clay" to "rock" to "MAGICAL METAL." Note that Baldr is bright green in this instance and in Baldr Shields, but in no other circumstances. Yeah I dunno. Anyway the way you get one of these things is to have a Stone Golem get hit with a combo Wind/Fire magic attack and survive. Yes. NOTE: Have you seen AI mages use ANY combo magic as yet in this LP, let alone that particular combination of elements? (No, you have not.) Much, much easier to catch new ones than to make your own.
While this is going on, there were also a couple of dudes attacking from the East. Lloyd came at me first; while I was ordering Ivory to track him down and finish Dark Blazing him to death, I found the others. Let's take a peek.
Leinus is notable for one thing: what probably started as a full load of Fatigue-decreasing items (you can tell those because their pot icon thing is red while healing items are blue). On a flying unit this is not what you want to see. He's gonna be a huge pain to finish off. Meanwhile, I dunno what the hell Colin was thinking when picking his formation, but his class sure is new.
Like a Phalanx but more so. Bigger, tougher, with a larger shield; still pretty unimpressive offensively. They make good bodyguards in units with a heavy back-row payload, but honestly the other frontliner classes perform passably in that role while actually contributing on offense. These guys ARE pretty visually imposing, though. Two attacks in every row.
Meanwhile on this Stronghold down here we have the second all-Grappler unit we've seen all game. Hmm. That leader's dialogue portrait looks different from the usual Grappler portrait. HMMMMMMM.
Back up in the North, an arrow from Liedel's nasty Earth-element bow knocks Valleth off. That's one down.
I was distracted enough by events in the north that Amal was able to make it all the way to my HQ. Yeah, he's probably made better decisions before, but he sure won't be making any more of them now!
Remember how Ivory was trying to chase down Lloyd and finish him off, like, fifteen screenshots ago? WELL SHE FINISHED.
Next up: I sent Leia up north because in terms of fighting Heinlein's unit, one mage is better than Dio and Guy's combined total of zero mages. The second or third time they met up, he was being a scaredy little baby and it killed him. Bella Cula is mine, and there's one more unit left in the attacking wave.
Strike that. No more units. You call that an attack, Rhade? Here, let me show you what a REAL attack looks like.
First: Shopping! This inexplicably Friendly stronghold located to the south of my HQ is where the shop is located, presumably to make it a huge pain in the ass to get new stuff. I sent Troi down to take a look. He enjoyed it way too much.
The shop has a variety of items required for advanced classes that we found for free on the ground all over the place last mission. Meh. I do have the option of buying as many Fools as I can carry. I'll, uh... I'll pass.
Asnabel had to chase Leinus down to the edge of the map to kill his stupid Wyrms because they still had like three Power Fruits left. Fatigue items are the best way to make flying units even more annoying to clean up.
Oh right, there was one more unit in the attack wave. Colin did NOT have any fatigue items, so he's been either camping or hiding out at Vad's town this whole time. Bring it, punk.
Don't matter how big you are, purple fire will still burn you. Don't matter whether you Fatal Dance my unit leader or how many times in a row she gets critted or
KILL HIM KILL HIM KILL HIM
Man, I haven't had a unit leader die on me in... I don't even REMEMBER the last time. Well, let's say I'm "showing it off." You guys deserve to see what happens. Honestly it's what I get for making a Dragon Tamer a unit leader in a Cleric-less unit and putting her in the center, even with a Sorceress behind her.
What happens, apparently, is that she gets the same skull icon over her that enemy units get when I give them this treatment, only instead of sitting there doing nothing she heads straight back to HQ and retreats. Much more useful that way.
Especially since at that point I'm able to use an Altar of Resurrection on her and send her right back out into the fray. There's revenge to be had!
In slightly happier news, Guy found one of these things. They're pretty much the best Robe, better than Robes of the Wise even.
Hm. Vad's still... just kind of sitting on his stronghold. Let's... uh, let's leave him to it. Note up at the top of the screen, Ivory is already waging a terrible campaign of destruction and revenge on Lloyd's hapless subordinates, who are fleeing the length of lesser maps to get away.
TO NO AVAIL The Thunder Spear is not quite as good as the Earth Javelin, but better than anything else we've got. Required for an advanced class we haven't seen yet (in other words, not Cataphract). Also Lapidz was sitting there completely unguarded so she just let herself in.
While that group is on the move in the east, this one is also marching forward ever forward in the north. They found this fancy stick. Required for Archmages and Sirens, but we won one off of that crazy guy who wanted to kill Yumil forever ago anyway.
Oh, yeah. This is good. Remember that unit from last mission that would have been a problem if it were facing the right way? This one is facing the right way. This'll be a challenge.
Meanwhile, the Eastern group is facing Dionne, who doesn't look nearly as tough. Let's just go get her.
Oh no, an ambush; what a cleverly executed ploy; etc, etc. Pretty much the only useful thing Hugo does is tell you where these will happen about half of the time. If you weren't paying attention (or if you forgot) you might be tempted to send a unit against Dionne alone. Of course, at that point you could, y'know, have it withdraw and there wouldn't be much of an issue. Still, though. Challenge!
The two units we see in this ambush are Eric, who I'm pretty sure we've seen the likes of before, and Bif, who seems not to know what the hell she's doing with anyone other than herself.
Now pay close attention here, kiddies. Dionne is the last one left alive in her unit, and she's still in the back row. That means that even after I killed everyone else, she kept on coming back at me, over and over, tenaciously, even though she can't actually deal any damage herself.
Conversely, Bif, who is a healer, took a couple hits in one battle and immediately got trapped up against a river while fleeing for her life and sobbing uncontrollably. Yeah she died pretty fast.
Meanwhile, in the northern theater, a lot of, well, this. Aisha and Rebecca are pretty evenly-matched in healz, and Leia's unit has a slight edge in defense on the Grapplers, meaning the battles are very slightly going my way, but it'll take a while to come to a head. Let's go back to the east where stuff is happening.
One more ambush unit, who was behind all my guys when the shit popped off earlier: Feldman, the very Jewish-sounding Ninja Master. True story: I took karate classes when I was a kid, like all the other kids in my class did starting when they were six, and because I was a huge dork who played video games, I stuck with them for longer than second grade (like almost nobody else in my class did). I ended up quitting them at age 12 though, when I didn't have time for them anymore due to Bar Mitzvah lessons. Judging by how quickly he went down, Feldman did the same thing.
Eric the Black Knight was the toughest ambush attacker, which is why Freddie was assigned to deal with him and which is also why he took the longest to kill. The Baldr Mail is the next tier of medium armor, required by the same class that required the Thunder Spear.
None of the strongholds in the area have a suitable Morale to be liberated by my army, but these guys all need a break after fighting off that ambush, so I just bit the bullet and captured Lachook. Like I said last time, those playing without the option of customizing their Chaos Frame will probably want to be having their own little Reign Of Terror right about now anyway.
FINALLY, Priest Wars comes to a close. By forcing Rebecca to divide her healing attention between herself and her front lines, Leia was eventually able to finish her off. Her reward was the AGI-boosting disposable item: a rock. Okay, sure.
The local stronghold of Ketican is ALSO way too Chaotic for me to liberate it anytime this year, but we have just finished a terrible battle, and we are tired, so tired. Its warm beds look so inviting.
There aren't any enemy units around for days. Surely it couldn't hurt if just this once we allowed ourselves to
Oh NOOOOOOOOOOOOO the nearby bridge has been immediately destroyed without even requiring a dedicated unit to plant the charges this time!
: "...It looks like they've got the upper hand."
While Hugo might be INCREDIBLY WRONG about that, this is certainly an annoying situation. Half of my forces are stuck on one side of a river that, while the source appears to be like twenty feet away from them, they cannot cross, because that's off the edge of the map. The enemy HQ would be a hop, skip, and jump away if only that bridge was still there!
So let's just pretend that never happened and leave that stronghold well enough alone.
On the other side of that TOTALLY STILL INTACT bridge, Sergei, who appears to think he's the previous mission's boss or something, is the only thing left between me and my goal.
He's tougher than that boss was, due to (a) being an Enchanter rather than a Doll Master and (b) like Rebecca, being smart enough to point himself the right way, but he's still critically weak to combo magic. He gets poopoo-watered to death and that's that. The Bluemage/Tallgeese magical superteam sure is working that sewer flood.
Rhade's unit is exactly the kind of boss unit you want to attack from behind. I'd much rather have those Paladins attacking me three times each than have them healing Rhade over and over, even if they're not as good at that as a Cleric would be. I had Freddie sneak around the back way; let's get this party started.
: "...What's the Western Division doing!?"
: "...No reinforcements were sent. The Western Division remains."
: "Ankiseth, that son of a bitch! He's just gonna watch? Curse them, both him and his smartass kid!"
Well, you see, here's the thing:
(1) Since you have no idea they were currently in the process of initiating peace talks, I'd venture to guess that you didn't ask them before starting this little escapade of yours.
(2) You co-opted a bunch of their own forces to pretty much directly make them look bad and like they were breaking promises at a crucial point in the negotiations
(3) Neither of them like you in the slightest and you have on at least one occasion called Ankiseth "Ankiseth the Murderer" to his face; also there was that time you had your friend hold Yumil back while you killed a guy who was tied up despite him ordering you not to
In closing, counting on them to come bail you out was probably the worst idea you could have possibly come up with.
: "...Where's Sir Baldwin? What happened to Sir Baldwin!?"
: "...He withdrew a while ago."
Oh hey, I stand corrected! Counting on that guy to put himself on the line to get you out of your own bad situations is the worst idea you could have possibly come up with!
"not the only one, sir, we're all still here for you, no matter what happens"
"try again when you get a name, redshirt"
Sounds like it's about time for Freddie to ride on in and start the murder.
: "Come on, fight me! I don't need anyone's help! I'll take care of you myself!"
Two thoughts here: (1) I find it very disappointing that Freddie doesn't get a unique dialogue with Rhade. What do I have to do to get a little recognition, Rhade? Do you at least remember my name? (2) Remember a quip a while back about how if he could, Rhade would personally stab every rebel his own damn self? Yeah, apparently it still applies.
Rhade still hits pretty goddamn hard, but I don't find it nearly as hard to deal him significant damage as I did last time. Either I'm less underlevelled now, or using Freddie makes the difference. Probably both. And thus, with a mighty thunderclap, a douchebag douches his last.
: "The Revolutionary Army endangers the existence of Palatinus itself... Ha! Your victory is useless... ...See you... in... hell......"
And just like that, he's gone.
Somehow I pictured killing Rhade would be a bit more satisfying than this. Remember that scene from GTA4?
Fun fact: If Dio chose to leave your party way back at the beginning of the game, Rhade would not die here. He would (alternate-plotline spoilers) run off and swear revenge, AGAIN, and in an unrelated cutscene Dio would come out of nowhere and backstab the shit out of him. No matter what, Rhade is disgraced -- Dio would just take the opportunity to step in and fill the void. It's a nice touch, but I'd rather have him still working for me.
Rhade's sword is okay-not-great. I seem to recall it being roughly equivalent to the Sum Mannus; we're going to give it to Freddie anyway, though, because (a) it matches up with his innate element better, and (b) WAR TROPHY.
Well, time to move on I guess.
Oh hey, it's that guy who hung out on that stronghold the whole battle! Hi, Mr. Lazy!
: "I thank you for what you've done for us."
: "We only did what we thought was right. ...What are you planning to do now? If you'd like, how about joining the Revolutionary Army... joining us?"
"No, Bolmaukans, we're not going to make any demands on you; we only wanted to make things right for our fellow man, wrongfully oppressed by Lodis! GO AND BE FREE. Except you five. One of you has a unique portrait for no adequately expressed reason. You want a job?"
: "I appreciate your offer, but we have to decline. To the west of here, there are still many who are held captive. ...They're waiting for our help. We will go west, to rescue our fellow Bolmaukans! ...I'm sorry."
They all leave. Except one of them. Guess which one!
: "Please, let me fight with you! I can't bear it any longer... I must... I must seek revenge against those who enslaved us!"
: "Aren't you the leader of the Nirdamese troops?"
: "I've already discussed this matter with the others. ...I beg you!"
Vad is a bit of an odd duck. To get him to join the army, two things must happen: (1) You cannot have taken the EVIL path earlier or he decides you're a douche. I think Neutral is still acceptable, but no storming Audvera head-on or no Vad. (2) He has to be, y'know. Alive.
This second one is problematic because other than his unique dialogue portrait, which you only see if you inspect his unit, there is nothing in particular to distinguish Vad from other grapplers. He gets three attacks in the front row, and some fancy claws, and he gets a brief scene where he yells at you if you fight him, but even if you do notice those things you could be forgiven for not immediately concluding that you should let him live. Another instance of OB64 being too opaque for its own good.
Also, in this playthrough he just sat on his stronghold all day and night, but the truth of the matter is that after a certain amount of time, he will attack you -- RELENTLESSLY -- until such time as you have liberated the (completely unrelated) stronghold of Bella Cula, way off to the north. Which is why I hauled ass to get up there ASAP. If you're not quite able to get someone up there to take that city before he comes knockin' at your HQ, you have to throw on the Attack Strongest battle strategy and pray you can keep winning victories without killing him over and over until Bella Cula falls. No matter what, AIs don't get Witch Dens, so if he dies, he's gone. If you'll recall, he was alone in the center column. Yeah.
My first time through this game, I didn't know Vad was recruitable or even remember he existed. There was one funny-looking Grappler who got a dialogue with me for some reason, then the mission ended.
Luckily this time around I know better.
At this point we get an emergency meeting with Destin and Saradin. Tension music all up in this bitch.
: "What brings you here, Destin? Did something happen in the Central Division?"
: "No, we received orders from headquarters to head west and prepare for Lodis' invasion."
to prepare for what now???
: "Has Lodis initiated an attack against Palatinus?"
: "...No, not yet."
DUDE you SCARED me <> NOT COOL
: "Freddie, this is the official statement from headquarters. 'We will accept nothing less than unconditional surrender from the Western Division. If the Western Division is unwilling, use the full potential of Generic Army to liberate the Western Region.'"
Frederick is capable of being a douchebag? HOLY SHIT
: "What!? That's their intention!?"
: "Unfortunately, I believe it is the intention of the entire Revolutionary Army. We have won numerous battles, and succeeded in liberating the Bolmaukans. There are many among the Revolutionary Army who believe that they can accomplish anything. And, they are more concerned with the overthrow of the upper class than the revolution itself..."
Hm. Nagate may have had a point. If I'd known this was gonna happen I'd have tried to suck a little more.
: "In order to lead a large group of people... it's occasionally necessary to accept things that go against your beliefs... To boost the morale of the Revolutionary Army......"
: "But this is not the time! Why must we fight those who do not wish to fight? Besides... Lodis will not remain quiet!!"
: "That's why... we came here. We left the revolution to help the people of Nirdam. Freddie... You must go to Castle Talpaea as ordered... and find your own answer! What needs to be done now? What do you want to do? ...You must decide on your own."
Kind of contradictory advice, Destin. "Choose your own destiny by following orders and fighting your best friend because your boss said so!"
: "...I was ordered to use the Nirdamese to fight Lodis. I understood its importance, but it nonetheless went against my belief. ...I was in the same position as you are in right now. ...And my decision was to leave the Revolutionary Army. I will fulfill my duty, regardless of my desertion. But, I fight Lodis for neither the Revolutionary Army, nor for the people of Nirdam. I fight for all the people who suffer! For myself, I follow my heart! ...I hope you understand."
"now go be a good little soldier boy and storm the castle"
With Rhade dead, the amount of moral ambiguity in the story only increases. Get used to that.
: "I would like to remain here... in your battalion, with Aisha. Of course, if that is acceptable to you."
"destin's crazy, i for one like getting paid"
"plus i heard aisha works for you now and i still need to get me some of that"
: "We welcome you, Saradin."
I don't think you need Aisha to get Saradin, but you definitely need to have answered "I can't do it" to killing Frederick.
: "Thank you, Freddie. I will do the best I can to support you."
: "The decision made by the Revolutionary Army, and your own beliefs... Neither can be said to be wrong. What is your goal? If you know what it is... then that should guide your path."
Speaking of paths!
Two possible choices here: Azure Plains, in the Northwest, and Mount Keryoleth in the east. The game doesn't tell you what either of these means, of course. Pick one. Next time: We kill and kill until the world makes sense again.