Part 29: The Divine EmperorChapter 22: The Divine Emperor
(Or, "Seven Sins")
In the early spring of Vern 383, the snow blocking the way from Verona to the Central Plains thawed, and the Divine Empire began its march to Bretwalde.
Pope Aegil is no one's fool. That said, it doesn't matter who the real Serdic is so long as their Serdic is the one with the Holy Sword and the crown.
Like I said, they give you a lot of priest-related Proofs. If I had one more Vow Proof, I could promote every single cleric-type in the same playthrough. (Once I got the Seals, anyway.)
The next two levels have Quests that also give Chrism and Vow Proofs. The one in this level is a Continuous Quest. The other two Quests that Quest unlocks also give you Chrism and Vow Proofs.
Don't ask me, man. I'm as confused as you are.
Compare that to the thief-type Proofs I have.
We'll make do without those two. Serdic needs to level anyway; he learns ZOC at level 27, and that makes getting there a priority.
If you're less concerned with maximizing Serdic's potential, then getting him to 27 before promotion really isn't very hard. As the tutorial states, higher MC gives an experience bonus, and Serdic has a high base MC and a good growth. (For comparison, Serdic's base MC was 38 at the beginning of the game; now he has about 47.)
Yumiluna starts with exactly enough points for this set-up. Remember, Holy Favor is a panic button for non-Marie clerics; Yumiluna can use it twice before she's out. Cure Drop is 25 MP and Holy Favor is 82 (-18% MP cost from Arcane Light 3), so I can cast seven Cure Drops, four Cure Drops and one Holy Favor, or two Holy Favors. One level will get her to two Holy Favors and one Cure Drop, but that's unlikely when she's at 11/100 experience.
No one else learns anything. Serdic exchanges his Ebon Amulet for the Pure Amulet of last time (+9 defense gain), Margus gets the Black Ring back and the rest of the amulets.
This is actually a pretty excellent map for Cotton to be subbing in. It works out.
The Mounted Guard is the Trooper at the bottom-right. Kill him and the stage ends instantly.
The enemies here are all slightly weaker than enemies in 17 or 18. They're still giving you time to adjust for the loss of Marie.
This is why having two sources of ZOC would be very nice right now. If you do, you can have Serdic take one side and Margus the other, relying on ZOC to delay the enemy's advance long enough for you to magic them down.
Sure, we can still pretty much do that, but it's the difference between having that be "incredibly easy" or "possibly problematic."
Note the terrain at the bottom-right screenshot. Some of the rocky patches are Wasteland terrain, with the customary 2 movement cost and defensive penalty.
The Attackers, Archers, and most Armors have no skills. The Armors do, however, have Glow Amulets (+6 defense); remember, accessory defense affects spell damage. Due to how the formula works, accessories actually offset spell damage more than physical damage.
That just means the Glow Amulet blocks about 10-12 damage instead of 10, though. It's not really a problem.
The Armor at the bottom-left has ZOC, though. Watch out for that, and by "watch out" I mean "nuke him as an example for the others."
All of the cleric-types have Cure Drop and only Cure Drop, even the High Priest. The Mages all have Fire Raid and are therefore laughable. The terrain is the only thing that makes them any threat at all.
Both of the Jousters have Arrow Guard. I'm willing to bet Ansom can still one-shot them, thanks to Invoke Might + South Medal + 6 Card, but it's a good idea to have a back-up plan. (Map 16 Ernest and his magical anti-arrow powers have made me paranoid.)
For reference, this boss will do about 80-90 to Serdic. This less than a fourth of his health, and Serdic regenerates 10% every round. Serdic against the boss alone wouldn't be a fight, it'll be a slaughter. The map will almost certainly end with Serdic tanking a hit to lure it into range, then using Seven Sins for the fatal blow.
There's five conversations this time around. In no particular order (because I couldn't find a good one):
Igraine and Elmer
There's no need to worry about that impostor.
C'mon, it's the Rightful Emperor versus the Divine Emperor! Doesn't that get your blood boiling?
It's like the Holy King versus the Demon King!
Serdic and Alhambra
I wish I could honestly say I wasn't worried about him. But I have to think about how the things I say could affect the troops. It helps to have someone like you around, Alhambra.
I'm not worried about the troops, Serdic. I'm worried about you.
I'm all right. You needn't worry.
Oww! Have you lost your mind!?
And that's why I have none.
Not even about Marie?
...I'm sorry. I crossed the line with that one. Here, you can belt me one too, if you want.
...You're a valued soldier. I wouldn't do something like that for a trivial offense. What I'll do instead is make you work twice as hard.
Alhambra, you're good people.
Aegil and Ansom
Impossible to say. I can't tell anything at this remove.
Do you think they have some proof to back it up...? Or is this just a last-ditch ploy of the Empire's?
If their story is true, it means our Serdic is a phony. What would you say to that?
I didn't mean to say I doubted you, Pope Aegil. If our Serdic is genuine, then there are no problems.
Correct. No problems...
Ansom, if you're going to subtly sound out others to confirm your particular suspicions, you really should choose better. For better or worse, Aegil tied her political future to Serdic the moment he was coronated. She can't just say "oops, got the wrong guy" now, so any threat to his legitimacy is a threat to her position.
Igraine and Galahad
Their timing isn't very good. If they'd been faster, they could have done it before Serdic was coronated. That could have been really bad.
In other words... We should be grateful that Marie and Serdic came to such a quick decision.
Grandpa... please don't say that.
I'm sorry, Princess. It was thoughtless of me.
Simon and Yumiluna
This can mean nothing but trouble for the Pope.
Really? I think it's a much better arrangement than to have her moping in her room.
I grant you that, but...
After all, it seems Pope Aegil has a special place in her heart for Serdic... He may even be her only friend. I wouldn't argue with anything that helped the two of them come closer together.
I wonder if you realize how cruel that wish really is...
Simon still seems to be nursing a grudge. This is actually his last conversation in Route B, so far as I can discern. It's interesting that they never really show him forgiving or forgetting.
Aegil and Igraine
I have no idea what she's talking about here. Something off-camera, probably. Or it's a translation error.
Serdic doesn't belong to you. You just have to let him do what he wants.
I'm the one who legitimized his status as Emperor. His actions are my responsibility.
Then you can sit back and relax. Serdic's not a kid. He can do things without being told.
This, meanwhile, is almost certainly a reference to last chapter's Serdic-Igraine chat. Not all conversations that reference other conversations actually require those conversations.
Sometimes, Aegil has to be reminded that most people her age don't understand conversational dominance games. She sometimes forgets, what with the whole "being Pope" thing.
Now, on to fighting.
Serdic and Igraine are going to take the right side while everyone else moves down. Three low-movement Armors without ZOC are easy pickings for Serdic and Igraine's particular skill sets.
The enemy passes turn.
The bottom Armor could attack from the side and then stop in front of Serdic, but the other one will definitely end up in Sedna Prison territory after its turn. Cotton's position allows her to threaten both fronts of engagement; if the bottom Armor on Serdic's side attacks through the front, she'll Fire Dragon it. If not, she's in position to cast casting on the lower front.
The lower Armor is unlikely to attack until we advance further; I expect he has a defensive AI. Margus is there in case he does.
Ansom is going to make the lower part of the map much, much simpler.
I really, really don't like four movement.
He does charge ahead, though. So do all of the Attackers. The High Priest cures the dying Armor.
The Mages all retreat. This is going to be a recurring theme.
More importantly, Sedna Prison can hit three Armors, killing the one Ansom wounded and cutting the other two down to 1/3 life.
(Igraine's +1 Move Makes Her Better Than Arios counter: At least 4)
Serdic kills the two injured Armors and reduces the survivor to about half. Cotton finishes the job.
(He's at two OB now. Level 2 Seven Sins will almost certainly kill the boss, let alone level 3.)
Fire Dragon finishes the job. Yumiluma moves forward, Ansom kills the foremost Attacker.
Now, Margus could advance. But regardless of what he does, the Attacker will be in Sedna Prison range, as will the right-side Armor after he charges in. Advancing further is just going to make the Mages run even further away, and that's a waste of time.
Basically everyone advances, including the troops on horses. That... could be a problem.
Cotton eliminates the two Attackers below her with Thunder.
Now, in terms of what's left over...
I think I see a way to deflect the Attacker with Margus. The armor to the right of Serdic isn't really a problem, because he can't reach any of my mages. The one above Serdic, however, can. The two Jousters could be a problem, but I think they'll go after Serdic instead of the mages if Serdic is on their right side.
I start by having Yumiluna heal Serdic. He could be taking quite a bit of punishment this turn.
This allows the Attacker below Margus to theoretically draw a line through Margus' back, Yumiluna's back, and Igraine's side. I think that's too tempting a target for them to simply ignore.
Serdic has two potential lines of attack here. Let's call the first Defensive and the second Aggressive.
Defensive allows Serdic to be exposed to much less fire. Igraine and Ansom allow me to choose two of these four targets to kill this round, and I'll probably pick the lower Armor and one of the two Jousters. This means Serdic will only take attacks from a Jouster, an Armor, and the Trooper; he'll be out of range of both Archers and all of the Attackers. The downside is that this puts him directly in line with the mages, meaning they're more likely to come under fire. If Serdic had ZOC, Defensive would be the inarguably superior choice. He doesn't, though.
Aggressive will make Serdic the priority target. He'll take the fire of an Armor, a Jouster, a Trooper, an Attacker, and two Archers. However, the Archers and the Attackers are fairly weak (52 and 65 attack, and Serdic has Arrow Guard), and while all of the rest hit pretty hard, they don't hit fatal levels of hard against Serdic's 87 defense -- I'd estimate Serdic will take about 300 damage this round. He has about 380 health. That's doable.
Besides, I've been practicing excessive caution for the last twenty maps. Aggressive it is!
Fearless doesn't take effect until the second enemy in a chain, so the top Armor definitely needs to be weakened first; we don't want him countering. Ansom might kill him outright, but we can't afford to have him survive, and he isn't in range for Sedna Prison.
I decide to have Igraine target the top Jouster.
Almost to level 27. Excellent.
Maybe the enemy can see ZOC? Sort of? The really wonky behavior seems to be caused by the proximity of a ZOC user. I dunno.
Cotton kills for experience. Igraine is out of MP, so she can't really do anything.
Do you remember what I said about level 3 Seven Sins?
A lot of levels are going to end this way.
The Quartz Amulet is +21(!) Defense. For reference, the highest possible boost is +25, and that's from a Quest at the very end of the Quest list. The Quartz Amulet is probably going to be on Serdic up until the very end of the game. The Crimson Ring is +4 Attack. The Dragon Medal is +10% flat accuracy.
They would like to meet with you on their own ground.
This raises nothing but suspicion in my mind...
It's fun when gameplay and story line up so well, isn't it?
Kay, let them know that I accept their terms.
Serdic hopes it's a trap. A trap lets him show everyone just how unimpressed he is with their attempts to kill him.
Especially now that he's level 27. Just in time, too! Having two sources of ZOC is near-obligatory for the next chapter.
Total number of resets so far: 9 (+0)
Two problems. First, Alhambra. The Trials screen yes/no dialogue defaults to "no," and it turns out that I didn't actually send her. Oops.
Two, Aegil. You see, like Serdic's Prince class, Aegil's Healer class learns skills past left 15 -- Serdic up to 20, Aegil up to 21. However, Aegil's first class is unique in one regard: It learns skills her second class does not. This Is Bad.
If a promoted class has a skill, then it doesn't matter when you promote; it'll be placed into your skill list so long as you're above the required level. For example, Prince never learns Invoke Life or Fearlessness, but Cold Monarch learns both at level 21. Serdic promoted at level 23 but still has both learned and equipped.
These are both pictures of Aegil at level 18. (That's when her High Priest class learns Magic Guard.) See the two additional skills? By promoting before level 18, Aegil misses out on Aggressor and Arcane Light (18) as well as Stand Fast (21). Arcane Light drops the MP cost of every spell she ever learns, so leveling to 18 before promotion is highly recommended. Stand Fast is a modifier on the base defense stat, and, well, Aegil's barely into the double digits right now.
Aegil was at 17.90. One healing spell is anywhere from 40 to 70 experience for her, so even one more cast would have gotten her to 18 and saved a lot of time. This is fine, because I definitely did this on purpose as a demonstration. Definitely.
I'd forgotten this was the case. At least I got to point it out, I guess?
So I knew I'd have to do the last two levels over. Then I remembered that the retreat function exists. Problem solved! I had Aegil heal once, retreated, and did the map over again. I had to reset once during that replay (Serdic countered before Igraine's first Sedna Prison, which effed that all up but good), but everything went pretty well on the second go-round. We'll count the retreat usage, stage replay and that reset as +3 resets.
(If nothing else, it lets me confirm that there really is no penalty to your Victory type or rewards for retrying a stage.)
Of course, there was a minor ethical dilemma after the stage ended. You see, some of the exact rewards are variable. Very variable.
In this case, I got a Ruby Amulet instead of a Crimson Ring, and +10 Defense beats the pants off of +4 Attack. It isn't even close. +8 attack damage or -10 enemy attack damage and somewhere from -15 to -20 spell damage? Ansom doesn't need 16 more damage, and even Alhambra prefers the durability boost to 16 more damage. It's nice to have.
(It'll also let me show you one of the game's unfortunate translation quirks later, when I get another Ruby Amulet.)
Eh, whatever. Using it.
The nice thing about screencapping as I go is that I can always use it as a walkthrough second go round, in the event that I have to replay it. Things go much faster when I don't need to screencap or think.
Total resets so far: 12 (+0/+3)
Next time: Cost of Betrayal