Part 54: UPDATE 49: Pressure
Observe the final state of my claw-wielders. Yeah, Marty seems better suited to Lfal than Vad did. Something with that much of a flame motif needs a ninja master or a Viking or a Night Elf or SOMETHING sufficiently metal. Meanwhile Vajra matches Vad's outfit.
Remember when these guys were bros? Well they've been torn apart by the needs of the battalion, but at least they're compatriots in awesome-staff-wielding. Yeah maybe the Totila would have matched Tallgeese a bit better thematically but eh. He needed a bit of Virtue to balance out all that Bane anyway. Plus it's MORE ULTIMATE.
I had a bit more trouble figuring out what to do with the Dainslaif, actually. Turns out it's not quite as much of an endgame-level weapon as I'd remembered and this playthrough actually features fewer one-handed-swordsmen than my typical save would. Everybody in Europea's unit is still using a Blessed Sword, of course, but that's their thing.
Something else besides the usual equipment-shuffle this time: you may recall that I loaded up on items during the last mission, and I took the opportunity here to actually distribute them now that I've got everybody in one place. Your preferences may vary, but I'm just an absolute whore for Heal Packs. Three or four of those, one or two single-character heals, a couple Power Fruits, and one Angel Fruit and Quit Gate each is my usual loadout. Alternate schemes may favor single-character heals more heavily than I do or include a Revive Stone just in case you're really worried about petrification.
Anyway we've been to Wentinus before, but we weren't playing for keeps then because that was back when Lodis was actually in any way frightening. They're pretty much all dead now, so let's just go help ourselves.
Update 49: Pressure
OR: The only update in this entire LP wherein Freddie doesn't get any lines
THIS IS OUR LAST DANCE
Man if Matsuno had worked on this project there is absolutely NO WAY this mission name wouldn't have had an "under" tacked on to the beginning.
We open on another fancy office set. If you'll recall, this one is at Castle Talpaea, seat of the Western Division. Many a great stomach punch happened in this room. Richard's really come up in the world from that swamp.
Anyway Richard is totally engrossed in what I am guessing (based on his character) is a really fancy copy of The Da Vinci Code when his little brother runs in and disturbs him.
WE HAVE REVOLUTIONIZED THE FIELD OF BASTARDRY
: "What are you doing here? ...Baldwin!! We have no time to waste on such matters! Do you not realize that!? Return to your post! Prepare to engage the Revolutionary Army!"
"No time to hear about which of our childhood caretakers just died to protect us, I'm busy learning about ancient Catholic conspiracies while humming Queen songs. It's almost like those are the activities I was made for or something, it's insane. Anyway since Moustache Man is dead you're next in line for meatshield duty so go get killed in battle quick-like, chop chop"
: "But Richard, ...Thamuz..."
: "I will not repeat myself again!"
Richard gets cranky when storytime is interrupted. Baldwin knows better than to bother arguing with him like this.
: "...Don't get yourself killed. You must come back alive. There are still things that you need to do. ...Understood...?"
"remember, no dying until you pay me back my twelve bucks"
: "Your death will not be in vain. We will acquire the ultimate power, and make our order immortal. Our beloved Caliginous Order... will be succeeded by Baldwin, holder of the ultimate power! Watch over us... Thamuz. ...I will join you soon."
So yeah, about the Ultimate Power. We know of two people in all of history who've had it: The Progenitor, and Yumil. One of them conquered an empire or at least killed a bunch of people with blue hair, and the other one became a messianic figure for a couple of months before succumbing to a regular run-of-the-mill Cutscene Death. Yumil received the Ultimate Power as the price the Progenitor paid for his power, which was a pretty goddamn good deal for that guy. Dude must have maxed out his Haggle skill.
Back in the present, Zeda wants to resurrect Danika. Richard seems perfectly aware of that now, and he's counting on it. He's hoping Danika's terrible negotiation skills will allow Baldwin to make a deal with her like the Progenitor did, hopefully for similar gains. He appears to have decided to sacrifice himself to allow Baldwin to make that deal, which makes his current decision to sit around in Castle Talpaea reading crackpot mystery books while sending Baldwin into the fray against a pretty goddamn invincible enemy (if I do say so myself) a bit mystifying.
At any rate, we're not going to let Baldwin get that power because (a) he'll kill us and annex Palatinus for Lodis, and (b) that guy is a total patoot. That's YUMIL's power, dammit; all gel-haired douchebags need to STEP BACK.
: "Let's get started..."
: "Our goal is to liberate the strongholds around Castle Talpaea, and then strike Castle Talpaea itself."
Hugo is being misleading here: you really don't need to liberate any non-HQ strongholds any more than you usually do. That's just his way of hinting that our third and final siege mission will immediately follow this one.
The same two strongholds on this map are in our control as last time, but we're starting from where Ankiseth started from last time. It's a small map, meaning it'll probably be completely packed full of enemy units. Fun!
: "Something's not right. If they know we're here, why don't their defenses reflect it? I suspect they're up to something."
Or... uh... that. Okay. I'll believe it when I see it.
: "I believe two are left... Sir Richard, their leader, and his brother, Baldwin. They are both powerful knights of the Holy Lodis Empire."
WOW, THANK YOU FOR THE VALUABLE INSIGHT, SIR HUGO THE TACTICIAN.
Yeah that is apparently our cue to end the briefing and get to work. I guess the designers thought you might need a quick refresher on what country Richard and Baldwin come from before fighting one of them for like the third time. But that's the closest Hugo has ever come to actually telling me I could handle a mission before it started, so I'm not complaining! Much!
Uh. Was he pulling a fast one on me or what? This isn't really a human wall of slowly-advancing death by any means, but I wouldn't call it only a few enemy troops either. Granted, none of them appear to have the ~*~super important tactical advantage~*~ of being in a Legion. Maybe that was it. Let's start in the Northwest.
Or maybe THIS was what Hugo was getting at. A unit full of goblins and zombies in this chapter really only counts as like a third of a unit anyway.
Because WE want to see some OGRES, dammit. ...Man, for being a higher-ranked demon, Burton here sure doesn't know what the hell to do with his Ogres! Maybe he's just really protective of it?
Rapidly advancing toward the unprotected friendly stronghold of Reliance, where we started off last time we were here, is
Meanwhile we're also under siege in the east by a Saturos who presumably has a lot of fond memories of that dog.
Ever since I gave her a Crown and loaded her down with Books of Meteor Strike Meredia has been particularly reliable at wiping out whatever she fights. This makes Europea's unit a bit obsolete (since undead can't come back if they don't have a unit to come back to), but hey, she lasted longer in this playthrough than she usually does.
Indy was next closest. Liedel turned him to Stone; Destin added some injury to that insult.
It is at about this point that Reliance fell. For some reason not immediately clear to me this allowed Lowell to pull a whopping four reinforcement units out of thin air. More expees for me! We'll get to them in a second, we have more pressing concerns at the moment.
Ankiseth's reward for taking care of the Ogre in the first battle before it could become a pain in the ass while running away from me is a second Ring of Branding. It's nice, but we're really so late in the game I can hardly get excited over a fancy ring anymore.
Two feasts of delicious pumpkin pie later, the first wave is over and we can focus on our newcomers!
Due to their ability to fly directly over those mountains, the two flyer units are our more immediate problem.
Once again, though, this is only for a certain definition of "problem" due to the recurring problem of flying units never ever getting any better. That Cockatrice might eventually be a problem, but only if I manage by some dark miracle to not be able to kill it immediately.
I guess it's not technically shown in either of these screenshots, but you can probably infer that I was in fact able to do that.
Oh, this guy died too. A Wyrm? Really? Y'know, I got a Wyrm for free at the beginning of the Prologue. I disbanded that unit. Because it was worthless THEN. I've got the thing fetching me my morning paper. Get out of my sight.
The two ground units are still on the march, and they've been joined by a Saturos named Glazerook. You can tell him apart from Bernarle, the Black Knight from earlier, because he's the one who doesn't wear pants. Otherwise they and their units are pretty much identical.
The ground units themselves are Nathan and Estevez here. Estevez gets points for a cool name and a cool Dragon, but loses points for not being the right kind of Tamer. Nathan would still be ignorable even if he didn't put that Goblin in the middle row for no obvious reason.
Look at Estevez's angry, angry dying pose!
I throw my hands up in the air sometimes
Sheen's unit hasn't really changed much since its inception -- Jihad gets a better damage spread than Thunder Arrow, but isn't really a heavy-hitter attack anyway -- and yet it's still wrecking shit with alarming efficiency. I blame the best-in-class axes.
While all this has been going on, of course, Gilbert and his mountain-walking unit have been able to sneak right in behind the attacking wave and get Reliance right back from them. All according to plan~~~
No unremarkable AI units are gonna hold completely strategically irrelevant strongholds while I'M around. My HQ is no longer in immediate danger, time to grab me some land.
CAN'T LET YOU DO THAT, STAR FOX
I've been finding second copies of decent greatswords and spears as unit rewards basically this whole time. Nothing we haven't seen before. Might be I'll find a use for some of it, but maybe not.
Guenther here guards Yves Guibiques in the northwest. Remember Yves Guibiques? That pseudo-French sure hasn't started making any more sense.
Tempest is probably my favorite Drakonite book. I've always been unfairly biased toward Lightning-element stuff. It's just so zappy! After Troi cleared the way, Guy did the honors. When we rule this area I'm gonna change that stupid name.
While this was happening, though, the happy-go-lucky duo's lovable shenanigans attracted the attention of one Fink and his Templar buddies.
Mary Jane managed to save herself from probably dying again with a couple of well-placed Petrification effects. That's still good EXP I don't wanna waste, though, so Fuzzums takes the opportunity to bite the statue really hard anyway.
I'm positioned pretty well to march on Talpaea at this point, but notice over on the right, under the speech bubble, I'm being attacked again. It's actually three units, all overlapping each other. Man, I miss AI legions. They're so much more photogenic.
Shirley and Clyde sounds like a vaudeville troupe or something.
Shakille doesn't really fit that theme, though. Dio, go take care of business.
Hm. Maybe they'd actually be 1920s bank robbers or Pac-Man ghosts or something? Well they're dead now anyway.
Dio took advantage of my recent generosity with items to freshen up a little bit after the previous two fights in a row, before showing off a little Shaq-Fu.
I gain nothing from this Stronghold -- hell, even my CF is probably maxed by now. Old habits die hard. Time to go for the boss --
OH WHOA A SURPRISE TWO EXTRA UNITS I HAVE TO DEAL WITH FIRST
THIS IS TOTALLY UNEXPECTED AND UNPRECEDENTED AND NOT TEDIOUS AT ALL
The worst part is I'm pretty sure we've seen two other units almost exactly like Bruce's in this mission, and Bridd's just like that Daemon from before only switched backwards to a formation that makes slightly more sense.
It makes just enough sense that Katreda wasn't able to Shower him to death immediately, and I don't want him to run back to the HQ for healing because that would be a HUGE pain in the ass, so let's show off the last Elem Pedra. Pretty sure we've done all the others already.
So, to recap:
1) Wind: Thunderbirds
2) Fire: Lizards or something
3) Water: Ice wolves
4) Earth: GOLEMS WITH BITCHIN' WARHAMMERS
Yeah that's reason number 2 why Earth is the best element to pick for Freddie. Sayonara Bridd.
Bruce, this unit wasn't a challenge the last two times I beat it either. Get out of my way and let's fight a boss.
As you may have inferred from Richard's remarks in his office before the mission started, our boss tonight is Baldwin, accompanied by a squad of Saturoses and Templars. Because I don't think I've done it yet, I'm gonna kill him with dragons.
When our intrepid young dragon master meets Baldwin, it is of course outside the castle gate.
: "Foolish souls who dare defy Lodis... You have no future. Your lives end today!"
: "You even use the denizens of the netherworld to accomplish your goal? I'll stop you, no matter what!"
Hm. Increasingly wishing I'd brought Hector to this fight, but unfortunately he's not even dispatched. He'd almost definitely have the same line here -- recall how hard it is to get a Saturos in your battalion at all, meaning they wouldn't write a special case for that -- but it'd be funnier coming from him!
: "You don't understand anything... There really is not much difference between us and them. ...Besides, they are quite sensible. They've contributed the fruits of the netherworld, and released our power... These were gifts from them."
: "Is Lodis... Are you that desperate to rule the world!?"
: "For Lodis, or not, doesn't matter anymore..."
Oh right, something approaching a legitimate motivation. Kinda. Anyway, note from that conversation that that artificial power cap Saradin was talking about that time has apparently been lifted for Baldwin and Richard, and they (possibly) didn't even have to eat any hellfruit. Not a bad deal.
Well, let's see if I can beat him with a couple dragons anyway.
Baldwin hits reasonably hard. The first time, anyway. Thank god for Earthquakes. Boudica might be in trouble otherwise!
And TWD comes through in the clutch! The last attack Boudica gets polishes Baldwin off. Well, that does it, he's DEAD NOW. For good! Whatever nefarious schemes Richard had in mind for him will never come to fruition now!
hahaha no of course he's not dead yet
He ports away and we're left with nothing. At least we can start sieging this castle now.
The primary downside of not being able to kill him, of course, is getting this redundant non-reward instead of his cool zigzaggy sword thing I've been eyeing all game.
I honestly have no idea why we apparently waltzed unchallenged right into Castle Talpaea last time we attacked it and this time we have to do a whole second mission just to get inside the damn thing. Or even why we're bothering. Let 'em have the damn castle and move on with our lives, I say. But WHAT DO I KNOW ANYWAY. NEXT TIME: Our third and final siege mission!