Part 25: Free VeronaI realize that I forgot to explicitly mention this last time: Aegil has no Card abilities.
She can still be sent on other Quests, but she isn't allowed to leave on Card Quests. You'll get the same message if you try to send Marie. Those two (and Serdic, since he can't be undeployed on a map where Errands are available) are the only party members where this is the case. Even some of the Grands have Card abilities, and they're enemies!
Chapter 18: Free Verona
We have no choice, then. Prepare the prisoners for execution.
Church Knight: Yes, sir.
Watch and learn. First we lure out the Pope with the executions, then we kill her. Once that's done, the Bretwalde Army's morale will sink like a stone.
What a pointless waste...
Oh, it's you from the Empire. General Alber... Albor...?
I'm very sorry. I'm terrible at remembering people's names... Is something wrong, Albaricht?
...Uther has plans to execute the both of you.
Would that make you the executioner?
You know Alberich is the stronger mounted knight because his Knightly Hair Strand is longer. (Seriously, even Kay has one. Look!)
It's the shortest, and he's also the weakest knight. There are no other mounted knights with portraits, so there are no exceptions to this rule.
No. I came to let you escape. There's no point in slaughtering the two of you.
But if there was a point, you'd be the one to do it?
I'm a soldier. If those were my orders, I'd carry them out.
...But I mean what I said. Killing you two now serves no purpose. Now quickly, get out of the cell.
Don't mind if I do. Thank you very mu--
You wouldn't happen to be letting the prisoners escape, would you? I'd call that high treason! Escort this man to a cell!
Thank you very much, Lord Ernest.
There's no need to thank me. I always thought there was something suspicious about him. And now, the rest is up to you.
Standard assortment of Quests. Most importantly, Alhambra has finished her Quests. She has now more than permanently doubled her damage! She's much less point-and-delete than Ansom, but she's still quite strong.
This is probably the weirdest team you will ever see me use. I want to train Aegil, having long-range magic is useful in this specific stage layout, Marie needs to come along to fuel Igraine and for recruitment, and Alhambra's combination of high power and high move range is incredibly useful here. All of these selective pressures combine to eliminate Margus, of all people. I don't think you'll see the like of that again.
Marie gets the Black Ring to help her keep up with Igraine, Alhambra gets his amulets, Serdic gets the regeneration Medal.
As you'll also notice, Errands are grayed out this stage. As noted last time, we won't get them back until chapter 22.
I give Aegil a level in Cure Drop and three levels in Prowess, increasing her experience gain by 15%. The rest I save for Arcane Light/Invoke Mana/Oratoriorae. (Ora-tori-orae. Ora-tori-orae. Ora-tori-orae...)
As with the last stage, the intro changes if Marie is absent. The first two lines are the same either way, though.
But without having been coronated, I wonder whether Verona will still assist me...?
Then, if Marie is absent:
...No matter. We must concentrate on liberating the Holy City, which stands before us now. Here we go!
If Marie is present, however:
What do you think, Marie?
...Marie? Is something the matter?
No, it's nothing. Really.
This has been an arduous journey... You must be tired. Then, let us finish this!
Again, the stage is a little complex to describe. Let's go from the bottom up.
The stage is roughly mirrored, so:
You have the same sort of enemies on either side. So that's where all of Ernest's mages went! I have no idea where Ernest himself went, though. He just sort of vanishes after throwing Alberich in the dungeon.
The leftmost War Mage has Yumil Magna (linear ultimate ice spell), the rightmost has White Dust, the ones in front of the doors have Meteor Gate, and the two between the other two sets have Taion Raioh (3x4/3x5 box in front of caster). Taion Raioh is an utter joke, so there's really no point in worrying about it.
Yumiluna and Simon are in this room in the center of the stage. You have around eight to nine to turns to open the doors and save them, during which time no one in the room will move. If you fail the time limit, then they're executed and instantly die. You recruit them by talking to either of them with Serdic, but Simon is only recruitable if you brought Marie along.
You might be a little worried about Yumiluna being in range of one of the Archers, but, well...
One enemy shooting Yumiluna isn't really very worrying.
Similarly, Simon is pretty tough, so there's no need to worry about him.
All four Armors have ZOC. The left Armor in Uther's group has Melee Guard, the right one has Arrow Guard.
You might look at the central group and think, "three clerics? pssh."
enough, he led a group of church knights in revolt.
Wait, so his problem is that he thinks they didn't persecute the Order of Anrah enough, so he decided to ally with the Empire, who is allied with the Order of Anrah. So he's allying with the enemy so he can gather the strength to kill said enemy. Sure, that makes perfect sense.
Remember, Oratoriorae is a straight linear AOE. Now look at the terrain again. The Armors are just there to slow you down and line you up while the priests get into position, cast Oratoriore, and nuke the hell out of you. Take them lightly at your own considerable peril.
That said, this stage just requires high move and good positioning. Those corridors make Oratoriorae scary, but if you can circumvent them then the enemies are utterly harmless. It's all just a matter of finding a way.
Or just shoot them with Ansom. That works too. His Instant Death Threshold is up to 440 HP+Defense now!
One minor obstacle if you want to do that, though: Uther's starting position has a Pure Amulet (+14 defense). It's not vital, but it's very nice to have. I won't go out of my way for it, though.
This is the basic strike plan. Alhambra is going to take out the Attackers on the left side, since Yumil Magna is easier to avoid than White Dust, while Serdic, Ansom and Aegil move to free the prisoners. Igraine is going to use her long-range magic to attack through the walls and take out the bulk of the right side while Marie keeps her MP topped off.
If this plan isn't fast enough to save them before the execution event, then I'll fold Alhambra into the rescue team. I don't expect Igraine and Marie to have problems.
None of the enemies move on their turn. At the start of the player turn, this event triggers if Marie is in the party.
Simon? Who is he?
A Veronan knight. When I first arrived in Verona, sobbing with homesickness...
He would often lend a sympathetic ear. From thence forward, he was always watching over me from the shadows.
I see... Do you love him, Marie?
But not precisely the type of love you imply, elder brother.
Not at all!
Well, that was awkward. Anyway!
Meteor Gate 3-4 would kill Aegil if she moved one square further forward. Meteor Gate 5 will kill her here, but it's incredibly unlikely that they'd have it. Serdic's positioning is to determine exactly what spell level they DO have. Ansom, meanwhile, is just moving on with the murder.
Alhambra moves to the very edge of the enemy attack range. If he moves forward, she can attack him and then run out of his attack range.
Igraine is exactly seven tiles away from the second Meteor Gate mage.
And... none of the enemies attack. Huh. Meteor Gate 1 or 2? That's kind of pathetic.
Alhambra isn't really a one-woman army; her strength is more an excellent combination of high mobility with good attack and survivability. She's a support unit first and foremost, finishing off weakened enemies or killing more fragile ranged enemies.
Aegil is playing double duty here. If Alhambra moves next to the wall, then Aegil can heal her even while in a different corridor.
A demonstration of the limitations on bows. Ansom kills the Taion Raioh Mage.
Igraine, meanwhile, has very few problems with all the walls. One Meteor Gate Mage down. Level 24 now. Marie brings her up to full MP.
Not a problem.
At the end of the turn, we get an event.
These four Attackers appear (some of them set to appear in places where characters already are, because they're ninja, I guess?), and:
He says this even if you've stayed perfectly still, which makes no sense. Yeah, let's just ignore that little detail, shall we?
Begin the execution!
So my life has finally reached its end...
You mustn't give up! If you believe, help is sure to come!
...You're right. Let's place our trust in them.
I don't know if "waltzed elegantly" is the description you want to use for someone else springing your trap. It's evocative of them dancing right through it and then kicking you in the face.
Appropriately enough, that's pretty much just what I plan to do.
...as soon as I reset (+1) and give Igraine Aegil's +6 Magic ring, anyway. He has 10 HP left. Multiply 262 by 1.06 (the rough effect of a +6 magic ring) and you see that if I had done that, the spell would have cleared the HP gap by 5. I could also buy another level of Invoke Mind, but that probably isn't necessary.
The second time around, Alhambra attacks on the second turn, Serdic and Aegil move as far forward as they can, and Igraine and Marie also move one square further forward.
Alhambra dodges on the second enemy turn! This is a major boon.
The right-side enemy doesn't use Meteor Gate either, so he also has level 1 or two. Weak.
Alhambra gets countered and placed RIGHT in the path of Ymir Magna. Yeah. That's would be reset number two, because the two incoming attacks will kill her, except...
They used Yumil Magna before Alhambra's turn, so she's perfectly fine. As opposed to, you know, attacking, moving him out of the way, and THEN nuking her.
I continue to be baffled by the wildly varying competence of this game's AI.
Meanwhile, over with Igraine...
Ansom kills the Attacker threatening Aegil, Aegil heals Alhambra, Serdic moves to the safe spot furthest up-field, and Alhambra kills the Mage.
During the enemy turn, both remaining Attackers move left.
Igraine kills that one, Aegil runs from hers.
Back with Serdic's group now. I need to figure out how to move Ansom.
There's really two options here: 1) Have Ansom run far forward, kill the Meteor Gate Mage, take a hit from the Attacker, then open the door next turn (he can only reach it if he moves that far forward), or 2) move six squares instead of seven, kill the Attacker, have Serdic tank the space rock, and then have him open the door the next turn.
I go with B. It sounds like a generally better plan.
The plan is for Alhambra to run down after the attacker harrassing Aegil, kill it, and then return to finish this one off. With the amount of health she has, she should just barely survive the two hits she'll take before Aegil can heal her.
Marie can restore MP for quite a while, but even she has limits. Thankfully, the need to reposition should give her a bit of time to get her breath back.
At the end of enemy turn, we get another dialogue event.
Our rescuers still aren't here?
Hmph. Pray all you like, but help will never come.
I'm pretty sure you could clear the room you're in, Simon, and I don't see you doing it. God helps those who help themselves.
(The fact captured units can fight the moment you talk to them is very silly sometimes. Why did the Imperials let Simon keep his lance, armor, and horse?)
Serdic took 150 from a space rock. He won't be in range of any Archers when he opens the door, so I feel fairly safe sending him to do that.
Ansom deletes the Mage, Serdic opens the door.
It's the Bretwalde Army! Now, Lady Yumiluna, let us give the Empire a surprise.
Yeah, they don't even try to justify Simon being able to fight here. They really did just put him in a room with four Archers he can kill in one hit, mounted and armed and armored. Was the execution working on the honor system or something?
There are three conversations with Yumiluna and one conversation with Simon available. Let's get the obligatory one out of the way:
Yumiluna and Margus
Oh, you're the one they call Margus, right? I've heard a great deal about you.
Really. What did you hear?
Who told her that, exactly? Aegil? Marie seems much fonder of him than that, judging by their conversation in Jaglat's chapter.
Or maybe Yumiluna is faking her airheaded behavior and she's just really mean.
Oh! I suppose I suppose I shouldn't even be talking to you like this! Well, good-bye!
Can't Margus just hit on one girl without a crushing blow to his ego, Success? This is just mean now.
Yumiluna and Aegil
Yes, thank you very much! ...Huh? Haven't we met somewhere before?
No, we haven't. You must have me confused with someone else.
Really? Oh, do forgive me, then.
She's so proud of her disguise. The disguise that includes two braid hairclips with giant blue-white crosses on them.
Admittedly, she is right in the middle of Popeland, so maybe that's a common fashion statement. I wouldn't know.
(It's kind of weird how Aegil's normal sprite has no cowlick, but one springs up the moment she goes into her "smug" or "embarrassed" portraits. Probably riffing on the Japanese notion of an "idiot hair.")
Simon and Marie
Oh, Simon! Thank goodness you're all right.
Thanks to all of you... Forgive me, Princess. I vowed to protect you, and here you are rescuing me instead.
Simon! Please don't look so downcast. You have never broken your word this entire time. I'd never punish you for a single slip in keeping your vow.
Your words are a relief, Princess. Now, let us address the enemies still within the cathedral. And this time, allow me to keep my vow.
Teehee... I'd be delighted if you'd excuse me.
Well, that was a boring conversation! Kind of a low note. Let's move on. (I'll cover the last Yumiluna one in a bit, these were added after the rest of the chapter.)
If you don't rescue them, then one turn after the "serenity of the great light/still not here?" lines:
Then the turn after that:
Please let Pope Aegil be safe...
I'm sorry, Princess Marie... I wasn't able to keep my vow.
Then there's a REALLY FREAKING LOUD sort of "thwack" sound and they vanish. (It made me jump.)
Isn't the whole point of the "start an execution so the Pope charges into a trap" thing to lure in your target? Why would you execute the lure on a timer? That makes your trap worthless. Nothing about this execution makes any sense, guys!
Anyway. Moving on!
Alhambra moves to the edge of Cure Drop's healing range, which is also just outside the Attacker's movement range.
I'm pretty sure the rest of the right side is going to be kind of boring, so I'll probably skip it. Assume Igraine kills everyone with magic while Marie fefills her MP.
Yumiluna moves into range of two Archers, which is almost infuriatingly stupid...
...but Simon kills one of the two Archers threatening her and it's okay again.
Oh, right, I forgot. Yumiluna is the only mage/healer in the game who's figured out armor. She's fine.
Aegil heals Alhambra, and since the enemy strolled up right next to her, she's able to hit him and move next to Aegil, way the hell out of his five move range. Ansom kills one of the Archers, Serdic talks to Yumiluna. This is a fairly important step! If you rescue Yumiluna, she'll actively attempt to get to Serdic to initiate this conversation, but she's slow enough that it's easy to miss.
Please, call me Serdic. What's the matter, Yumiluna?
Before you rescued us, there was a man from the Empire who tried to help us escape. But a very treacherous-looking man spotted him first, and took him away... If you should happen to see him, would you please rescue him?
I understand. Do you know his name? Does he have any distinguishing characteristics?
Ulberith... Noted. I'll tell the men.
Thank you very much!
Her Bio suggests she may be forgetting names on purpose, which I think is a much more amusing image. It also means she might be canny enough to realize, "hey, Serdic's a lot less likely to set him free if he goes there knowing who Alberich is."
That said, she apparently forgets about him the moment Uther dies if she doesn't talk to Serdic, so I guess she doesn't care that much.
On their turn, Yumiluna heals Serdic and Simon uses his OB.
The labels are very convenient.
Simon takes 9 less damage from an arrow than he did the turn before (60 -> 51), which suggests level 1 OB is about 15% damage reduction.
Ansom kills the last left-side archer on his way out. Simon can kill the last right-side one by himself.
Deliberately letting Alhambra get hurt fort healing experience. Strategy!
(She dodges anyway. Curses!)
Yumiluna's casting animation. It is less angry than Aegil's and therefore much less interesting, much like Yumiluna herself.
All the non-Uther enemies are on the move, leading them to squander their positional advantage.
Alhambra moves forward to lure the Armor into Ansom's 12-square Murder Sphere. Aegil immediately moves next to her to ensure that the enemy ends turn in the right place.
Then Alhambra counters and knocks him out of the Murder Sphere, presumably because the game enjoys making me suffer.
Simon is serving as an excellent distraction.
Oh, so she can one-shot the High Priests even through Melee Guard? Good to know. Maybe I'll be able to get the Pure Amulet after all.
It looks really goofy when healers heal themselves. The first part looks exactly the same, it's just that the cutaway goes to the exact same character.
(No, they didn't goof on the terrain. That's because I'm reusing an earlier screenshot.)
Ultimately, though, I decide not to bother. Uther and the High Priest ran too far away; I'd have to tank multiple turns of laser beams to get the Amulet.
(vocal) Have I reaped... what I sowed...?
Well, deciding to end turn less than 12 spaces away from Ansom was pretty dumb, yeah.
Nice touch: You're all-but guaranteed to get the three Proofs Aegil needs to promote between last level and this one.
You have the gratitude of I, Pope Aegil.
Pope Aegil...? What?
Well... that is...
Serdic's level of education on political affairs bounces all over the place. That does make sense, I suppose.
I don't think that's quite true, but...
As Supreme Pontiff, I recognize you as the sovereign king of Bretwalde. You know the reason why, yes?
The Holy Blade.
Aegil doesn't know about the curse on the blade yet -- that's the reason behind Serdic's reaction here.
Rest now. You can use this time to consider what happens next.
If you save Yumiluna and Simon and have Serdic talk to Yumiluna, you unlock the optional stage Hidden Prison. If not, you move directly on to the next story stage.
There's two new characters to talk about this time.
for the rest of the battle.
A priestess of the Divine Nation of Verona. Though she travels with the Pope, she seems unable to remember anyone's name. Some suspect her of doing it on purpose.
Card abilities: Experience Gain +50% (3x), 5% HP Regeneration (6x)
Yumiluna is really boring. On one hand, she's the only mage of any stripe who starts with a decent defense score, and Stand Fast and Magic Guard help her to become surprisingly durable. On the other hand, there's absolutely nothing to set her apart otherwise. She learns Will of the Magi, I guess? Oratoriorae at level 36, faster than Marie, except that Marie doesn't need to promote for it and Yumiluna is past the halfway mark of the Seal order. So Marie will generally get it first anyway, provided Martyr usage doesn't keep her too far underleveled.
There's also one substantial loss Marie's MP regeneration may blind you to: Holy Favor is expensive, and that matters a lot more for people without that innate. Marie can cast it four turns in a row and still do all of her healing duties afterward, but Yumiluna or Aegil barely have the MP to cast it twice. It's hard to compete with that alone, and that's ignoring Marie's join time, her resulting level advantage, Martyr, and... You get the idea.
The problem is that Marie utterly dominates the conventional healer niche, and Yumiluna simply doesn't have the tools to compete. Aegil, at least, can carve out her own interesting little niche of "highly mobile healer/mage." Yumiluna doesn't have that ability, and that means it's hard to justify using her.
Church knight of the Divine Nation of Verona. Very chivalrous, and always willing to listen to the stories Marie tells of her childhood.
Card abilities: MC gain +1 (3x), Move +1 (6x)
(Good thing Marie doesn't love him "that way"; he's twice her age.)
Simon is much more interesting. He's basically Kay+, having better stats and one of the best defense growth rates in the game -- four points over five levels, up to nine points over ten levels after promotion. If he had the defensive skills to back it up, he'd be Margus on a horse. Like Kay, however, his skills are somewhat sparse. (Also like Kay, he learns Duelist, and at around the same level. It's weird. Why give Duelist to such mobile characters...?)
Speaking of skills, though, he does have one really great ace in the hole:
Starting with Melee Guard is incredible; only four units learn it, two are mutually route-exclusive, and every non-Simon user is a tier three. There's not much that stands out otherwise, but he does learn Desperation (temporary ZOC in exchange for defense) and one of the best activation abilities in the game, High Barrier. It increases the defense of all allies in its AOE, and at max level it gives up to +50% of base defense and lasts three turns. That's really good. It's a shame those two activation abilities come after level 40, when the game's already winding down.
Simon can stand on his base stats and Melee Guard alone. If there were more character slots, he'd practically be a shoe-in, requiring no work for an amazingly solid character. Unfortunately for him, Alhambra fills the same niche better, and you've only got six slots. If you use him, it's because you think he's neat, not because he's the best option.
Total number of resets: 9 (+1)
Next time: Underground Prison
The next two updates are short ones, so you'll see chapter 19 tomorrow and chapter 20 the day after that.