Part 11: The ValkyrieOur current mission is to meet up with an informant in Lazvil Hills. Upon entering, we're hit with some dialog.
Music: Beyond the Wilderness
Judgement Cliff is to the southwest! We can afford a steady pace, though. No need to be the first ones there. Just make sure you keep up with us, Kiel.
This is the same place we've already trekked through too many times. There's only one interesting thing between us and our destination.
You may remember this cave. There was a soldier trapped behind some rocks the last time we were here, but we didn't have the means to rescue him.
That's not a problem for us anymore! Unfortunately...
(There's a soldier's body... He was probably trapped here by the mudslides caused by the rain. .........)
Record in White Chronicle
We'll need to come back here sooner if we want to save his life. Let's make a quick detour to do that now, then. Our destination is the node: The Closed Mine.
"When Granorg invaded, I hid here, and the rain started a mudslide! I've been trapped here ever since! Let me thank you for saving my life!"
Obtained Right-Cut Scroll!
"Thank you so much!"
We technically could have done this subquest sooner, but that would have meant rescuing him without discovering the body first, so I decided to delay it.
We now have one of Marco's Sword Scrolls, so let's head back to A New Mission and learn a new skill!
"In return, I'll teach you a special technique!"
"Anytime you're ready!"
The screen fades to black, and we hear sounds of combat.
I did it!
Marco learned "Right Assault".
"If you find another Technique Scroll, bring it to me."
As you can probably guess, there's also a scroll for Left Assault. It's really nice for Marco to know these skills since he's a lot weaker than Stocke, so you don't have to waste Stocke's turn moving enemies around, and you can use him to hit the enemies once they're already in a pile.
Okay, that's enough of that detour. Back to Lazvil Hills.
Looks like we made it without incident. Are we... the first ones?
We've only just arrived, so don't let your guard down. ...Still, it should be okay to take a breather. We can't do anything without the others, after all.
Kiel and Rosch step forward to greet the others, and a man steps out of the shadows to address Stocke.
"Lieutenant Stocke? I'm--"
Heiss' Messenger: Ah, I thought I'd managed to blend into the army quite well. Impressive. I suppose men like us have a sixth sense for our own kind.
Heiss' Messenger: What's with the dirty look? Didn't anyone tell you not to kill the messenger? I don't want any trouble.
...State your business.
Heiss' Messenger: I have a message from Heiss. "...It's about time you came back. Play time's over." "If you don't... You'll suffer the same fate as that brigade." ...That is all.
...Is he threatening me?
Heiss' Messenger: That's for you to figure out. Like I said, I'm just the messenger. And I'm impartial.
Then I'd like to deliver a message to Heiss. ...Consider the offer declined. Abandoning this brigade is the furthest thing from my mind right now.
Heiss' Messenger: ......
Get that message to Heiss and do it fast.
Heiss' Messenger: Wait, I have one more duty to perform here. I'm to tell your unit the details concerning the next leg of the mission.
You must be the informant that Lt. General Raul spoke of.
Heiss' Messenger: Your destination is the Sand Fortress. Upon arrival, you are to join ranks with Viola's unit under her command.
The frontlines of the Valkyrie... So we're her reinforcements.
Heiss' Messenger: If you'll excuse me.
The messenger leaves.
Stocke, could I borrow you for a moment? It seems our destination is the Sand Fortress.
...I heard. The same fortress we took back from Granorg the other day, right?
That's correct... It's probably been the most embattled region of the whole war. But I don't understand... If they're sending reinforcements, our numbers hardly qualify. What could they be thinking by sending in such a small number?
Something wrong, Stocke?
...No, it's nothing.
I'm going to inform the men. I just need to wait for all of them to get here.
Rosch rejoins the rest of the soldiers, and Stocke turns to face Raynie and Marco.
Hey, Stocke. Are you sure we should just let that guy go? I don't know why, but I got an odd feeling about him.
I thought you might say that. I got the same feeling.
It seems we're all in agreement.
It looked like he was heading for Judgement Cliff...
...All right, let's tail him.
Rosch is removed from our party, and we head for Judgement Cliff to chase Heiss' messenger. Now is a good time to run back to Alistel for a quick stay at the Inn, if it's needed.
...He must be heading north.
Stocke, be careful. I've got a bad feeling about this.
...Yeah. Something was off about him. You guys should keep your guard up too.
This is the same place we went through to get to the Sand Fortress in the Standard History, so the terrain isn't noteworthy. There is an interesting enemy here, though.
These Cactus Blows have ridiculous defense and will only take 1hp of damage, no matter what attack we use. We could sit here for 10 minutes and whittle its HP down, but a much better solution is to poison it. It'll take about 30hp of damage each turn, and drop to 1hp within two or three turns. Other than that, Judgement Cliff is totally uninteresting.
What is Heiss scheming?
Heiss' Messenger: I've got no reason to tell you...
Stocke draws his sword.
Heiss' Messenger: You guys wouldn't be thinking of trying to kill me here, would you?
If you give it to us straight, we won't harm a hair on your head.
Heiss' Messenger: Well, I'm glad things turned out this way, honestly. I wasn't allowed to make the first move. You intrigue me, Stocke. You're the best we've got in Specint, and Heiss favors you... We're both members... Why should you be the one who gets all the special treatment?
Maybe you should ask Heiss for yourself.
Heiss' Messenger: What, you actually think he'd tell me? ...Besides. This way, I get to test out your skill firsthand... ...And if you end up dead, I'll just report that your ability had its limits after all.
Music: Edge of Green
The Shadow is a pretty easy boss fight. On his first turn he creates a Heal Zone on the center space of the battlefield. If he starts his turn on that space, he'll recover some HP, so we want to move him. I choose to use Marco's Grapple to pull him forward a space, since he'll take more damage in the front row. His attacks aren't terribly dangerous, so there's no reason to push him back.
Once he's off the space, I arrange my turns into this order. You may think it's best to put all of Stocke's turns in a row at the end of the combo, since he does the most damage, but that's not actually the best plan. Every time a new character uses a skill during a combo, the counter increases by one, and then increases again when they attack. So the more you switch characters during a combo, the bigger your combo gets. For example, if Stocke attacks twice in a row, your combo will be at 2, but if Stocke attacks and then Marco attacks, your combo will reach 3. So by alternating characters, we get a bigger combo, and more powerful attacks.
The only condition for this extra increase other than character alternating is that at least every other character uses a skill. If Stocke attacks, Raynie uses a skill, and then Marco attacks, our combo will be at 5. If Stocke uses a skill and then Raynie and Marco attack, Raynie's attack will bring the combo up by 2 points, but Marco's will only increase it by one, leaving us with a combo of 4. If Marco were to use a skill in this situation though, the combo would end up at 6.
Getting a big combo and dealing lots of damage is not only useful, but it's very satisfying as well. Understanding how the combo system works is important for getting crazy combos and dealing mad damage. A couple of combos like this will take the Shadow out with no pain.
As for the Shadow's attacks, he can poison you and he can petrify you, but he doesn't succeed very often. He's really not a very dangerous opponent.
Beating this boss brought Stocke to level 14, teaching him Resurrection. I always look forward to learning revive spells in RPGs, because I hate to use items that are even remotely rare or expensive, which applies to revives in a lot of games. That's not really the case with Radiant Historia, but that doesn't stop me from hoarding my items anyway.
Heiss' Messenger: But as long as you are, your little brigade will always be in danger...
Heiss' Messenger: ...Didn't I tell you? Heiss wants to keep you under his thumb. But Specint is in no position to overturn a personnel request from Lt. General Raul himself. That's why when the time is right, Major Rosch is going to take a little spill. If he goes down now that you've been pulled from Specint, it'll give Heiss the advantage... Haha... You'd best come back on your own accord if you don't want things to get messy...
Heiss' Messenger: Well, this scheme has yet another major player... Someone who doesn't want to see Rosch getting too big for his britches... ...You must know who I'm referring to.
Heiss' Messenger: That's all I know... Now do you understand the danger of supporting Rosch...? If you want to survive, heed my advice... It's for your own--
The screen flashes white
????: Be gone.
Music: To the Battlefield
Heiss' Messenger: Wh-What is this!? I'm being drained...! Ahhh! Arghhhhh! Aaaaghhhh!
The soldier begins to glow black, and...
N-No way! What just--
H-He turned into sand...
You mean like that Sand Plague thing!? I never imagined you could really just turn into sand...
What should we do? Shouldn't we report this?
...This isn't something we want spreading amongst the new men. I'll tell Rosch when it's time. I need you two to stay quiet about this. And don't let your guard down. We need to be cautious of our surroundings at all times.
...Be careful. Our "opponent" is more than likely poised to strike already... It's what we do until he makes his move that will make all the difference.
The screen fades out, and we rejoin Rosch and the brigade.
...And that's all I have to say. This will be a tough fight, but we fight for the glory of Alistel. I expect only the best. Once your unit is prepared, depart for the Sand Fortress!
The soldiers begin marching toward Judgement Cliff, and we return from the same direction.
Hey, where have you guys been? We're just about ready to move out.
Rosch, we need to talk.
Stocke and Rosch turn away from the others.
...What's this about?
Lt. General Raul's concerns weren't far off the mark.
His concerns? ...Wait, don't tell me...!
Our destination is the Sand Fortress... And that's not a coincidence.
Tch... No wonder they're sending in such low numbers... But we can't just defy our orders. We still have to go to the Sand Fortress. On top of that, we'll be fighting alongside Field Marshal Viola on the front lines. Wouldn't you agree that at least that part is in Alistel's best interests?
...You're right. I thought you might say that.
Well, now that we know what's going on behind the curtain, we won't fall for it as easily. Thanks, my friend!
Rosch turns back to the others.
All right, let's head up north through Judgement Cliff. The Sand Fortress is a stone's throw away if we take that route.
...The only problem is Heiss. What kind of trap does he have planned for us...?
Rosch rejoins our party and we set out for the Sand Fortress. For once the game is nice enough to let us skip over Judgement Cliff and just go right there.
Music: Machinist Kingdom
So this is the Sand Fortress?
Something wrong? You look a little disappointed.
Well, I guess I was expecting something... grander. This is a frontline fortress, after all. It's just not what I imagined. Wouldn't you agree, Sergeant?
There's a brief silence as Stocke completely ignores Kiel. He doesn't even give the kid an ellipsis.
...Sergeant? ...? ...Lieutenant Stocke!
Come on, Stocke. I know you're not a people person, but you can at least respond to questions.
What're you talking about?
Is something wrong, Sergeant? You seem especially tense.
Don't let it get to you, Kiel. This is just standard Stocke.
R-Really? But ever since we passed through Judgement Cliff, he's been especially on edge.
Don't let your imagination get the better of you, Kiel.
Stocke's not being curt on purpose, so no hard feelings, okay? You know... He's just shy.
I understand. He usually doesn't seem to care about anyone... But when there's danger, it's always the Sergeant who's first to the rescue!
Sounds like you have a fan, Stocke. Anyway, we should head inside.
Rosch enters the fortress and we follow.
Well, first thing we need to do is report our arrival.
Excuse me, can I ask you something, soldier?
"Yes, what is it?"
I'm Major Rosch, and I've just arrived with a reinforcement brigade. Could you point me in the direction of Field Marshal Viola's quarters?
"Major, the Field Marshal has no personal quarters here. Everyone sleeps and eats together, regardless of rank. Those are the rules."
Is that so? Well, can you tell me where I can find the Field Marshal then?
"I believe she's on this floor, just a little further down. I'll escort you. Please follow me."
"She's in here. Please excuse me, Major."
The soldier leaves, and we enter the nearby door.
Excuse me, are you Field Marshal Viola?
Indeed I am. And you are?
Major Rosch, Sir. I'm the captain of the reinforcement brigade sent to your command. I've come to report that we've arrived.
I see. ...And good timing. We were about to begin a strategy meeting. I hate to impose on you since you've only just arrived, but you should probably sit in. We've received intel that a large Granorg detachment is headed this way.
Rosch turns to us.
Sorry, Stocke, but could you guys check up on the men? As soon as the meeting is over, I'll catch up with you.
Leave it to us. Let's go, Kiel.
Sorry about all this. I'll greet them officially as soon as I can as well.
Rosch leaves our party again, and we automatically go back to the entrance.
"We are currently asking all squad leaders to check in with status updates."
Captain Rosch is in a strategy meeting with Field Marshal Viola and her advisors.
"A strategy meeting the moment we arrive? This really is the frontline, isn't it?"
That's right. You should all get rest while you can. A room has been prepared on the 2nd floor. All units are on standby until further orders.
The men leave.
So that was Field Marshal Viola... I've heard the rumors, but she was truly beautiful! No wonder they call her the Valkyrie.
Huh? I thought you were smitten with Dr. Sonja?
I-I didn't mean it like that!
Huh... Well, then can you explain how it's different?
It's-- Well... I look up to Field Marshal Viola. I've heard about her distinguished military career ever since I was young. So she's like a hero that I look up to.
Look up to, eh? I guess that's true. I get the same vibe from everyone who talks about her.
Well, of course. People often speak of the Field Marshal's charisma, especially compared to General Hugo... That's why the rumor is that General Hugo kind of "banished" Viola to this fortress.
Well, yeah. That's not really a big secret at this point.
It's all right. All that matters is that the Field Marshal is alive and well. She's still the Valkyrie, and she'll keep winning everyone's trust, I'm sure. ...But I must admit, I do look up to someone else a little bit more than her.
Huh... Well, if they can surpass Field Marshal Viola, that's really an accomplishment. ...Who would that be, by chance?
Oh wow, he actually said it!
Hahaha, you really are the fan favorite, Stocke!
...Knock it off. No good would come from following my example.
That's not true! Ever since Captain Rosch told me about you, I've really looked up to you! I've always wanted to become more like you!
There's an awkward silence.
...Anyway, I'm sure Rosch's meeting is just about over. Let's go see if we've got any new orders.
There's some stuff to do around the fortress before we speak with Rosch, but our first destination will be the room he's in. We need to speak with Viola.
We run across this guy on our way to Viola.
"He wouldn't stop crying when I had to go on duty. He wouldn't let go. It's kind of cute, but at the same time, I wish he'd toughen up a bit. Haha."
This guy doesn't have any task for us or anything, but it's worth remembering him.
I met a man in Alistel who wanted me to ask about you.
Hm? What did he want you to ask me about?
I understand. I'd be delighted to help you out. But I'm a bit busy to help you at this moment. I'm responsible for this fortress, so my duty comes first.
Alright, she knows we want the book now, so we should be able to come pick it up later. Talking to Rosch just starts the next plot point, so let's go up to the second floor of the fortress before we do that.
There's a free inn here on the second floor, in the Rosch Brigade's room. There's also a node right by here, so we can come here whenever we want for free healing.
The Sand Fortress has a lot of empty nooks and crannies blocked off by heavy crates. There's nothing for us back here, though. I guess the boxes are just for looks. vv
"The Prophet Noah is on our side!"
One thing you'll notice if you're talking to all the NPCs (which I haven't been showing for length concerns) is that everyone puts a lot of faith in the Prophet Noah. Most of the NPCs in Alistel talk about how incredible he is, and a lot soldiers talk about how we couldn't possibly lose the war, because we have the Prophet Noah on our side. I'm bringing this up because I feel like the Prophet Noah's incredible importance to the citizens of Alistel is an important bit of world-building.
Anyway, you may notice Kiel standing right behind this guy. We've got some free time before our next mission, so maybe we can get him to teach us some fancy sword dancing stuff.
Ah, Sergeant Stocke! Are you on patrol? Thanks for all your hard work!
...Are you training?
Yes. Right now I'm only good at sword dancing, and that isn't good in a fight. I need to learn some practical skills! ...Oh! Do you think you could give me some pointers?
(If I learn sword dancing here, I can put it to use in the other timeline...)
Note that while Stocke specifically mentions the other timeline here, we can still learn sword dancing from Kiel if we haven't been told to yet. Stocke just mentions that learning sword dancing could be useful.
Thank you, Sergeant! I think I learned a lot from you!
No, thank you. I learned a lot from all the footwork you showed. I'll use your sword-dancing movements to enhance my own skills.
The power of "Strike" was increased! With Stocke's improved skills, he can destroy some obstacles.
Learning sword dancing didn't just free up the other timeline, it also allows us to cut down thick vines. There are one or two treasures behind vines in Lazvil Hills, so we can pick those up next time the game needlessly forces us to trek through there again.
And we've done everything we can do at the Sand Fortress, so let's head down to get our next assignment from Rosch.
Field Marshal Viola's assigned us a mission. Come with me. I'm about to inform the rest of the Brigade.
Okay. Let's go.
We cut away to our brigade's sleeping quarters.
Music: To the Future that Awaits Ahead
Rosch, Kiel and Stocke walk into frame.
Listen up, men. We have new orders. Our army will begin advancing into the Gran Plain tomorrow. However, phase one is led by Field Marshal Viola. Only her unit will be on the offensive. We have been ordered to defend the Fortress in her stead.
"So... We're just on guard duty?"
This is the frontline. I don't want to hear that kind of talk. Granorg is constantly looking for a way to take back this stronghold. And don't you forget that.
"Yes, Sir! Please excuse my blunder!"
It'll obviously be tougher for the advance party, but our mission is just as important.
That's right. I want everyone giving it all you've got. I'll be reorganizing the squads, so stand by for further orders.
Meanwhile, outside the Gran Plain exit of the Sand Fortress...
Today we march toward the Dias Knights who have taken position in the Gran Plain! Advance party, on me! Stay in formation!
Viola and her troops march into Gran Plain, and the screen pans down to our party, standing by the Sand Fortress' northern doorway.
Time for us to get to work, too. We can't let Granorg see any openings to take the fort back.
It's so frustrating to be stuck in here while our own men are out there fighting the war.
Don't worry about that. It'll leave you weak when you need your strength the most.
Y-Yes, Sir. You're right.
A soldier suddenly comes running into the room.
"Captain! Reports are coming in of a large number of injured troops returning here!"
What? Are things going poorly on the frontline then?
"Field Marshal Viola seems to be having a difficult time dealing with High Colonel Dias, Sir. Granorg is using explosives, and our side is sustaining heavy casualties!"
Explosives... That doesn't sound good.
(Are Field Marshal Viola's troops capable of holding their ground on the battlefield...? It would be possible to send her reinforcements from here, wouldn't it? I have to think about this one carefully...)
Rosch, why don't we send a unit out as reinforcements?
I understand the sentiment... But wouldn't the defenses here suffer if we did that?
We can divide the brigade in two. I'll head the backup unit while you hold this position.
We don't have time to ponder it, do we? Well, if you think that's what's best, I'll go with it. Let's do as Stocke says. We'll divide the brigade in two! We've got to hurry, or it's useless!
Music: To the Battlefield
The Rosch Brigade sent a portion of its men to assist Field Marshal Viola's troops. The detatchment led by Stocke flanked High Colonel Dias with a brilliant tactical ambush. Shocked, High Colonel Dias had no choice but to sound his retreat. But the trap he had set was already in motion. Granorg was also using a detachment force to reclaim the Sand Fortress. Rosch fought bravely with his limited numbers, but he was quickly overpowered. The Alistel army was left stranded in Granorg territory.
"Front of Despair"
Music: The Melody Connecting the World
It's hard to say whether Granorg or Alistel is the stronger of the two nations... But it seems that this time, fortune favored Granorg.
Granorg has become fully aware of Alistel's strategy. You will have to work twice as hard to stay ahead of the curve.
I apologize that my advice is so cryptic, but please know that we are on your side.
Captain, shouldn't we join the battle as reinforcements?
...No, we can't do that. A losing battle isn't won by throwing manpower at it. Besides, if Field Marshal Viola is in danger, she'd be prudent enough to contact us. We need to stay the course, and prioritize defending the Sand Fortress.
(Rosch seems pretty calm about all this... He probably knows what the best course of action is without having to hear me say it.)
Then it's settled. We should make our rounds to keep the men alert.
While making rounds, something catches Stocke's eye...
Upon noticing Stocke staring at him, the soldier runs in the opposite direction.
Stocke... You noticed too?
Yeah. Let's follow him.
Captain! We're going after that renegade soldier!
Stocke, Raynie and Marco chase the soldier.
H-Hey! That wasn't one of my men... And the advance party should be well north of here in the Gran Plain... That means...
Kiel! Come on! We need to join the pursuit!
Rosch turns to the nearby generic soldier.
I want this entire floor on lockdown! Tighten security! We're going after them! I don't like how this looks. You're in command here, soldier!
"Sir, yes, Sir!"
Rosch and Kiel catch up with us outside the fortress.
...We lost him.
Seriously, he was going as fast as his legs could carry him.
We were right behind you, so there's no way he doubled back into the Fortress!
There's a loud sound and the screen shakes a bit.
Music: Impending Crisis
"Enemy attack, Sir! The Fortress is breached! They must have advanced in the dead of night! We estimate that they're about 300 strong!"
...Then the Dias Knights in the Gran Plain were a decoy!?
What was that noise, though?
"Enemy spies set up bombs, Sir! They're using the chaos to pour into the Fortress!"
Damn it! Set up the main defenses in the center of the Fortress! We'll try to hold the north end where they're strongest, then deal with the ones inside!
We quickly return to the fortress. The stairs are blocked by debris, and the whole place is on fire.
"The stairs are blocked... According to reports, there were five explosions. That means the upper floors might..."
Damn it! They must have known Field Marshal Viola would be heading to the front! Viola and her men are probably in danger too!
"What--!? Then at this rate, our army will be...!"
There's a bright flash, and...
Music: The Melody Connecting the World
It's faint, but I sense black energy here as well...
...The explosives set up inside the Fortress are probably the cause. If only they could be removed...
But the explosives have been made invisible by the black energy.
Invisible explosives... What a pain in the ass.
I love how Stocke reacts to being told about invisible bombs. He's not surprised, or concerned about how to deal with them, he just plainly states what a pain in the ass this whole situation is.
I'm reminded of a skill the Satyros have that can heighten their senses to see the unseen. I don't know how widely they practice it, but it seems like it might help here.
The Satyros, huh...
Well, we should be heading back.
Those traveling entertainers were Satyros... Maybe I could learn something from them...
Looks like we can't proceed down this timeline any more. Next time we'll return to the Standard History and rejoin the traveling entertainers. Look forward to it!