Part 55: UPDATE 50: Adversaries
Not a lot to do before we move on. These maps are really giving diminishing returns -- I already have all the really cool stuff; all there is left to do is pass out a Ring of Branding and a Celestial Mace.
I'm impatient to get this done. It's Castle Talpaea. I've already TAKEN this place. And I doubt it's as impressive as Winnea was. Remember, Procus sent Yumil here because he didn't like him. Let's get it over with.
Update 50: Adversaries
Man, I must have done SOMEthing wrong. Update 50 is the second-to-last main-game mission. If I'd just crammed one of those text-dump updates into a mission update, everything would have synced up so perfectly. At least 51 is divisible by 3. That's KIND of cool. I GUESS.
We open on our two favorite people in the whole world. Richard has apparently just helped himself to the throne room. Typical.
: "You were unable to stop the Revolutionary Army? ...I cannot understand why my own brother could be so incompetent. Do you want Thamuz's death to be for nothing!?"
oooooooooooh, baldwin's in trooooooooooouuuuuuuuuble
: "At least you came back alive. ...Head for the ruins. I will stop the Revolutionary Army here. Get out of here! I... don't want to see your face."
Y'know how in TV shows and stuff where the little boy can't keep his puppy anymore but he can't convince the dog to leave because it has a very poor grasp of economic realities, so he has to yell at it and throw rocks at it and stuff until it thinks he doesn't like it anymore and it just breaks his little heart but he has to do it? Yeah I'm having trouble with this metaphor myself because it involves comparing Baldwin to a puppy. At least I managed to restrain myself from making a Game Of Thrones reference for at least the twentieth time even though it would be totally appropriate here also Baldwin is totally Tyrion and Richard is like half Jaime and half Tywin ANYWAY Let's cut to the briefing.
: "I'm sure you're aware that this battle will take place in the castle."
"but i'll say it anyway because i do so love condescending to you"
: "...Let's discuss the situation. Allow me to outline our plan for taking the castle."
: "Our goal is to liberate the castle, and prevent the Caliginous Order from going through with their plans."
What happened to that ninja guy? Wasn't he able to sneak into Winnea before? How can this be any harder than that?
: "We're also limited by there being only one castle gate, in the front of the castle."
awww only one gate to knock down
: "The situation doesn't look good. Be extra careful when breaching the castle gate."
Meh. One gate means my forces don't get split. Fine by me.
Correlation doesn't imply causation, Hugo.
: "Do not worry, Freddie. I've already disbanded the legions for you."
...Hugo, as soon as we're done preventing the apocalypse I'm putting you in a home. The cheapest, sterilest, most dehumanizing one I can find.
: "Of course. I'll be back."
SUMMARY OF THIS BRIEFING: "We're going from here to here. Expect to fight some people in the course of this battle. No legions, try not to fuck up!" Hugo's just phoning it in now. He's not even trying anymore.
Same drill as before: the castle closes at 7 PM, so we better take the place over by then or we get kicked out. Those rent-a-cops are MEAN.
Upon dispatching my troops, I was immediately presented with two units -- a Saturos guarding the one gate semi-ineffectively, and one dude meandering down the street in my general direction.
I guess their idea is to hold out on me until AFTER I get in the walls, and then try to take me out then? You'd think they'd try a little harder to keep me from taking the gate at all considering it's the one place I have to go, but I guess they're aware of how utterly useless it will be as a fortification.
Let's be honest, neither of these guys was gonna slow me down at all.
Before I was quite done mopping up their charred remains, I met Drake -- I guess he was Andy's westerly counterpart and we didn't see him until now on account of our encampment being slightly askew.
I commend him for very creatively managing to make the standard Black-Knight-and-two-Ogres formation worse via the innovative inclusion of a Mature Dragon, but that's about all.
My guess is that those guys all got stuck on duty outside the city on account of being terribly awful. Let's see if the troops inside are any scarier.
...So yeah, so far that's a very definitive "no."
I think this might be the second-most-one-sided battle I've ever seen in this game, after that one fight in Celesis against the unit made up entirely of Clerics. Hell, Jager's unit could have held its own, and that thing's only still around so I can use it to dupe stuff.
I think they might have forgotten to make this one section of wall passable by Flying units or something. Both Sheen and Ironside here had to detour through the gate on their way through.
No big deal. Sheen held the gate admirably. Mine now.
Ingram didn't appear to have similar problems crossing the west wall. He apparently has his heart set on Leia's tent down there in the southwest -- she'd wandered over there chasing somebody else and was a bit worn-out.
I was distracted by giving other people orders and forgot to wake her up in time. Whoops! vv I'm not really worried, though.
Yeah she killed them all anyway. In one battle. Didn't even need all three White Mutes.
See, by now I've totally turned the corner on this game. I've used every trick it has (other than Witches because meh) and it just plain doesn't keep up with me most of the time. There are a few things it can throw at me that will still keep me on my toes, but nothing we've seen so far is one of those things.
I dunno how I've managed to not get one of these spears by now because it's totally outclassed by all the spears I do have. Not impressed.
Venturing inside the gate, I'm greeted with the sleeping form of Salome, a patrolling unit apparently not given any Fatigue items.
Easy prey. Maybe I should have waited for her to wake up to make it sporting. I just can't stop powergaming!
Venturing far enough into the city to trigger that fight prompted Abel the Black Knight to burst out of that building to avenge Salome's death.
I think this is actually the first time in quite a while I've killed a unit leader using run-of-the-mill solo tier-2 magic. Feels nostalgic.
At this point I brashly/boldly sent Troi up to get some rest at that courtyard area, only to find that I had blundered into a cunning trap! These guys sure are good at concealing huge monsters inside civilian houses.
Silkie's using the worst dragon, but Feldman here is packing one of the only things this game has left that I can't necessarily handle with my eyes closed (the Sphinx, not the Ogre, duh). They can reliably cause three-digit damage in an area, meaning they can kill multiple people over the course of two attacks if you let them! I am NOT putting Troi up against that thing.
Which means he has to cut his way to freedom by savagely electrocuting Silkie's entire unit. Easily done.
I want my anti-Sphinx unit to have a healer. That means I'm pulling Troi out and sending Leia in his place, and her hour-long hike has tuckered her out so much that I'm gonna need to burn her Power Fruits. On any other map this would wipe out like eight hours of marching, but not here for some reason! No big deal, I've got like a billion of those things.
First things first: Feldman needs to die.
Yeesh. Okay this here is why I need a healer. I think this attack brought the Interrupt Meter all the way up from Retreat to Elem Pedra level by itself.
Better put this thing out of its misery sooner than later.
Meanwhile in the east the other half of my army happens upon
BAM. Not quite sure why that dragon is so incredibly resistant to Jihads, but I'm not too worried about it in this context.
Killing Kasha brought forth Atreyu, who's probably the first demon we've found with a sufficiently fantasy-sounding name for my tastes. He's got another Dahaka, but he's so close to everyone else that I won't be able to call in Sheen in time. Hector can probably handle this, though.
Two reasons: (1) he can kill Atreyu before everyone gets debuffed; (2) since everyone in his unit is positioned on a corner they won't take much damage from the Earthquakes themselves.
Predictably, resting on this courtyard resulted in an ambush just like the other one did. This time it's demons all around.
Wow, these guys really like Cerberi. Well, that Tiamat will be KIND of a problem, but I'm mostly worried about the Sphinx again. I've got three Priest units, remember; one of them's guarding my HQ and the other two are both in the west.
Well, the easy part comes first.
Meredia wiped Destro out. She wipes everything out. I got a second Totila as a reward.
Now, the hard part. First, shut up and jam a greatsword into Barkley's face.
Next, tank a MONSTER magic attack from his Sphinx, which appears to have filled the ENTIRE interrupt meter by itself.
And finally, get the HELL out of there. That Sphinx will be much easier to deal with when it's in the front row.
See? LOOK HOW EASY THIS IS.
Now then, we've cleared out the town and it's about time to think about getting into the castle proper. There are two gates; each one is guarded by a Saturos unit.
Both of them are the same sort of generic demons-and-templars mishmash we've been seeing way too much of ever since we took Winnea.
If you would please excuse me, gentlemen.
And boom. I'm left wondering why people in this universe build castles at all.
At this point I decided to sacrifice my everyone-at-equal-levels strategy in the name of drama, like I did last time I had a siege mission. We're gonna have an epic battle very soon. I guess it wouldn't KILL me to have Freddie do the honors. Yer out, Gillie. Go guard the camp.
Our last two units are standing around in the castle courtyard waiting for us.
Same mishmash again, only this time the Templars are in charge.
And the same result. This felt slightly more epic, though -- I sent in my Dragoon and my Princess, my right-hand men (right-hand people?) to take out the final two Templars.
You are, of course, fully aware that our boss tonight is Richard. He gets his own class name; it's pretty metal. I expected his unit to be a little less Dragony and a little more Templar/Demony, like Baldwin's unit was last mission. I guess this is a change of pace!
Man, he lets those things walk around in the throne room? On this nice carpet and everything? Hope he housetrained them, I don't even wanna KNOW what Ahzi Dahaka crap smells like.
: "I never have thought that you would fare this well against the Caliginous Order."
: "Do you realize what it means to resurrect Danika? You're going to start the Ogre Battle and involve the entire world, just so your goal can be attained!?"
: "Haven't I told you enough, that the end justifies the means?"
uh actually i think this is the first time that's come up but please go on
: "With the ultimate power, we will build a new, perfect world! Those who are superior cannot put their abilities to good use, while worthless fools reign only because of their lineage... Do you not think it is wrong? I am sure you are already aware."
So if Procus and Amrius represent absolute monarchy, Ankiseth and Yumil represent constitutional monarchy, and Freddie and Frederick represent radical liberalism, we can now definitively paint Richard (and by extension Baldwin) as the game's token fascists. Except in this case they have dragons. Spooky.
: "Perhaps it is wrong... But that doesn't mean you're right!"
: "Absolutely. But at the same time... it is difficult to practice ideals. While you seek a better path, the world continues to degrade..."
: "Power unattainable by mere humans... We are worthy of holding it! We will lead this world!"
: "Perish with your corrupt world!"
Time to show this chucklefuck a thing or two about power.
You'll want to make sure you can deal damage to Richard quickly -- he and his dragons both deal damage out the wazoo, and he has a tendency to block everything. Also, protip: Richard tanks Elem Pedras like a champ. I got lucky this time-- I didn't have all my attacks blocked, but also JUST BARELY avoided killing him before he could do anything, either of which would have made me very sad.
Rather than stick around, get hit with scary burny breath, and then end the mission, let's start over to see if Freddie gets any unique dialogue, since I went to all this trouble to get him here. That first scene sounded a little generic-y.
Ooh, looks like he does! Sweet, he hasn't been getting ANYTHING lately.
: "You are both culturally and ideologically advanced, compared to us. So why do you try to rule only by force?"
You were trying to kill this guy five minutes ago, Fred, no need to be so... NICE.
: "After numerous battles, you still have not realized? Let me ask you a question. Why do your comrades stay with you? ...It is because you are strong. If they follow you, they can be victors."
: "That is the simplest, the most solid thing you can rely on."
: "No, that's not true. ...We pursue the same goals..."
: "You don't want to accept the reality. ...Is that not true? The weak perish, and the strong survive. This is the most natural form of society. Even if they acquire the ultimate power... the weak are destined to fall."
I thought that was an inherent contradiction and then I remembered what happened to Yumil. Touche, Richard.
: "That isn't strength! That's nothing but violence! Strength for defeating others isn't important. The courage that overcomes your heart's weakness, that produces true strength!"
Yeesh. I'd blame this on a crappy translation job but I doubt it sounded any good in Japanese either.
: "I don't have time to listen to your ideals. I don't need your words! Show me... your so-called true strength!"
And we're back. Let's see if I can do this again.
Hm. Not quite dead after one go-round. AGAIN. Curse my luck.
Certainly doesn't help that this dude is an even better physical attacker than Ankiseth or Biske. He's approaching Asnabel levels.
Luckily I was able to tank the dragon attacks without anything TOO terrible happening and knock him down immediately afterward. If you're even less lucky than me Richard can block everything you throw at him and then you're in trouble.
I doubt it, you're standing up straight and I don't see any ellipses.
: "No, not yet. If we can gain the ultimate power, then..."
And he's gone.
But I get an awesome sword anyway! This is the best sword in the game. It's got one less attack power than Fafnir, but (a) Fafnir is non-elemental where Oracion is Virtue-element, and (b) I missed out on Fafnir this playthrough anyway. Richard spoils me rotten. I guess it makes sense -- we've got one mission left, if they're not gonna give us this sword NOW when are they gonna do it?
We catch up with the game's only remaining interesting characters in what appears to be the same damn introspective forest where we had two or three Important Conversations with Ankiseth a couple chapters ago.
: "What do you think you are doing? Go, and break the seal!!"
: "I'm sick and tired of you telling me what to do!"
Baldwin has a point, Richard is being SOOOOO demanding. He won't stop getting on Baldwin's back about receiving the Ultimate Power and becoming as a god. It's really obnoxious.
Richard delivering this line and Baldwin drawing his sword happen concurrently. It matches up pretty well with those ellipses.
Important people who have died in cutscenes independently of my actions:
I got Godeslas and Amrius, but let's face it, those guys weren't actually IMPORTANT.
: "Tell me, what am I to you!? ...You never change. You look down on me and others, thinking that you're superior. ...Thamuz took care of us since our father died, but you didn't care when he was killed. Not only that, but you used his death for your own end."
: "I will become a god."
hahahaha okay this is reeeeeeally ironic considering the contents of Richard's internal monologue.
The moral of the story is that communication is of the UTMOST IMPORTANCE, especially when you're operating from the center of a tangled web of lies and betrayal.
We don't actually get to see Richard die, but he's got the ellipses, he's been run through while alone in the middle of the forest, and he's slumping pretty badly. We can pretty much just call this one a wrap.
We're almost done. The site of our last* mission in the game is... Mount Keryoleth. Yeah, we were here once before. Remember, it was full of demons talking about resurrecting somebody and we were all like "yeah whatever can you give me directions to wentinus" and then after we took the West we just kind of left? I'm thinking we should probably have taken that whole deal a bit more seriously.
NEXT TIME: Shit gets REAL.