Part 60: The Crown PrinceChapter 27: The Crown Prince
the Royal City of Egvard alone.
To Egvard. Prince Serdic is waiting there.
You're going alone? That could be very dangerous.
...Didn't you hear me? Prince Serdic has appeared in Egvard. I'm only his double.
I knew anyway.
At first, I didn't understand why you were masquerading as my elder brother. But after talking to you, and seeing the sword you carry... I knew on some level that my elder brother had died. So... granted that my elder brother was supposed dead... Do you know why he would turn up in Egvard?
No, I don't. But there is one thing I do know. Something suspicious is definitely happening. I don't know what it may be yet, but... I'm going to end this. The real Prince Serdic said to me...
As I said way back in chapter one: I seriously doubt Prince Serdic meant ??? to take that literally. He would have reacted to ??? running off and leaving him to bleed out otherwise.
Although, that said, if he had requested a mercy killing, then everything would have been sunshine and rainbows; the curse would have been broken before chapter one even started. So, uh. Oops?
No, it wouldn't. You'd be walking into your own death.
Then I'd be doing no more than you.
...Do you know why I became Prince Serdic's double? He took me in while I was critically wounded. On top of which, I had lost all of my memories.
So... since you don't know your true name or origins, that makes it acceptable for you to die?
It isn't that I wasn't using ???'s name. If he had one of his own, I'd have used it, reveals be damned. "???" is an awkward necessity, because no one ever gave him a name.
Let's think about the implications of this revelation for a moment. ??? is a capable sword fighter, and swords aren't easy weapons to learn. He's also learned enough to pass convincingly for Prince Serdic, at least for a short time, which encompasses a great deal of knowledge: Social graces, knowledge of politics and all of the local and national players, mimicking a greatly different personality. (The last is particularly impressive on Route A, considering.) Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that ??? picked all of this up in a year, which would make him an incredible prodigy.
??? was living with Prince Serdic for a year without a name and no one ever gave him one. Prince Serdic is an asshole. If that's typical of his treatment, then it's no wonder ??? has self-esteem problems; they show through even as Route B's Serdic, and they're all the more pronounced here.
Well, now that you've explained it to me, I understand perfectly.
You're a double? You have no name? Why would that matter? You said it yourself... You swore to protect me. Your words were, "Any method that requires the sacrifice of one so dear is wrong on the face of it." Were those words a lie?
It was then, when you spoke those words to me, that I first realized.
You were right. Sacrificing those dear to you is wrong. And for me to allow you to go to Egvard alone would be equally wrong.
Is that how you feel, Marie?
You may recognize this line from 20A.
Nothing I say can change the way you feel, can it?
And no matter what I say, you're coming with me, aren't you?
I see. Then I won't say anything.
Before we go, I have a gift for you.
Now, Altrius, let us go to the place where this began, that we might end it.
...Right! Let's go to Egvard!
Altrius's change of name is permanent and reflected fully in all appropriate places.
His new name is also a magnificent gesture. It's safe to say Spanta serves as a kind of divine mandate; the holy blood is a real thing with traceable effects, the holy sword is the strongest weapon in the world, and only those with the holy blood can wield it. The Holy Blade serves as a proof of their descent from the hero Altrius. (Although they might doubt that now, since they have no reason to believe the double has holy blood. Route B tells us that he does, though.) That's why it was such an insult to have a no-name pretender appear and lay claim to the crown and sword.
And Marie not only continues to accompany him and to allow him to wield Spanta, she just named that no-name pretender 'Altrius.' That is the single most transparent "fuck you" possible from someone in her position, and I love it. Never change, Marie. Never change.
When it said the army disbanded, they meant it. Over half of our roster is gone outright, and they took all of their equipped items with them. Including, sadly, the Black Ring and the vast majority of our amulets. The only people left are those who are accompanying Altrius for personal reasons.
You'll notice that I was very careful to include characters that I knew would stick around when this split happened, both in my first playthrough and this one. It's a good thing that most of these characters are good enough that you'll use them anyway!
Okay, I could not use Igraine or Alhambra here. But I've been giving them constant Training behind the scenes and it's more amusing this way.
(Notice that Errands still aren't available. What the hell, devs? This is promotion time!)
Altrius just hit level 30, so he picks up Vital Power 4. Alhambra learns Adamancy 4, because using her as an insane suicide attacker sounds amusing. She can pick up Adamancy 5 next level. Igraine learns Sedna Prison 3, with Sedna Prison 4 possible in two more levels. Alhambra gets +22 in Amulets, Owl doesn't get any.
Probably should have put them on Owl instead, since he isn't the one with "-80% penalty for dying" equipped. Oops.
You've just lost half your roster, likely including main-team characters. You'd expect the game to take it easy on you at this point, even though story-wise they shouldn't. Story-wise, this map should be harder than just about any we've had so far.
It isn't. The Priests have Cure Drop, the War Mage has Spark Edge. No one else on this map has skills.
There's a lot of conversations this time. Just about everyone who stayed has something to say, sometimes multiple somethings. Let's get to it!
Marie and Rukia
I thought you'd tell the fake prince to stop fighting. Then, once he didn't need the sword anymore, I thought I might be allowed to take it.
I'm sorry that reality did not conform to your expectations. But even had Altrius decided to abandon the fight, he had no intention of giving you Spanta.
Really? Hmm. I guess I've got no choice. I'll just have to stick close to him until he's ready to give it up.
I doubt that day will come, but... Why do you want Spanta so much?
Well... You see, my homeland is under attack from Order initiates who fled the inquisition.
Although it's only recently that I've wanted the sword.
So that's the reason...
Is that truly your reason!?
Heeheehee... It's human nature to be driven by your impulses, whatever they are.
You are serious!? This is beyond the pale...
Aww, don't say that.
So then, which reason is true?
Both, I guess. That's why the sword isn't my only reason for sticking around.
I see... Then can I count on you a little while longer, Rukia?
Yep. You know it!
I hate you slightly less now, Rukia, but you've got a hell of a lot of ground to make up.
Altrius and Izuna
: Huh? What do you mean?
I thought you might be sobbing like a newborn. 'Cause, you see... You seem kind of weak-spirited.
Do I really seem that weak...?
Well, if you're fine, it's no biggie. C'mon, let's go!
: Are you saying you'll remain with me?
: That was a fast decision...
Aww, who cares.
So c'mon! Everyone's waiting.
: W-Wait a second...
Altrius and Shino
Ugh... I-I'm sorry.
Oh... you seemed angry.
...... It takes more than this to see me angry.
It's minor to me. I don't care whether or not you're the real prince.
Are you serious?
I see. So in that case, can I count on your support for a little while longer?
Right. It's a pleasure working with you, Altrius.
Sadly, seeing Izuna's conversation first has no impact on Shino's.
Altrius and Alhambra
I'm sorry I lied to you.
Aww, I don't mind. It's not like I came along just for the chance to hang out with royalty. If you want to apologize, tell the other guys.
I'm also sorry we couldn't restore your body to normal...
Well, I didn't expect you to just snap your fingers and take care of it. Hell, I'd have been annoyed if it had been that easy!
Well, all right, then. Let's go kick the Prince's ass!
Still the best.
Marie and Owl
I told you at the start that I'm not in this to help out Bretwalde, didn't I? I'm in it to help you. Anyways, I've already done what I wanted to do.
You refer to the Red Lion?
This kid is fixing to do the same thing, so make sure you give him your support.
...You're right. Thank you, Owl.
And Owl, meanwhile, is still a pretty cool dude.
Brace yourself for a Route A Galahad conversation! Don't worry, it's actually pretty good.
Igraine and Galahad
Well, I did decide to follow Prince Serdic. Master Altrius, I mean. I'll at least stay around while you're here, Princess.
But we'll probably run into people from the Order at Egvard... Is that okay with you?
If we do, so much the better. We'll need to mete out some harsh punishment, so we can snap them out of it.
But that's probably too much to hope for.
You're right. Well, now I know why you're staying with the group, Grandpa.
And what about you, Princess?
Don't even ask! Raine is really hurt right now. I feel as if my heart is adrift in the Veronan Sea!!
Ohohoh! My apologies.
Usually, characters stay in their previous pose until the next time they talk. Igraine goes back to normal here.
I like this conversation. Next!
This upcoming conversation in particular benefits immensely from having seen Route B first.
Altrius and Igraine
What's the matter, Igraine?
Marie's cheating! She's trying to get ahead of the rest of us by giving you a name.
: Get ahead...?
You're mine, Altrius! Mine!
This, for example. It seems like weird possessiveness, but... Do you really think Igraine spent a long while around him without giving him a name? Very unlikely. But she can't tell him that unless she wants to reveal his past, and Route B tells us that she's leery of that. For good reason, considering Altrius's severe self-esteem issues.
So not only does she have to deal with someone usurping "her" place in general, it's also likely that they're also replacing his "real" name with their own creation. That's got to sting. If anything, she's being very mature here by putting Altrius's mental well-being over her own wishes.
Mind, given that his issues partially rest in his self-conception as "no one," knowing he has a past may actually help. People are complicated.
Although the real Serdic is a dead man walking now...
Then that really is Prince Serdic?
Yep. It's probably Mephreyu's work.
A notable choice of language. The Prince of Route B didn't seem "controlled"; he seemed like someone with a grudge against Serdic. It's possible he's on a tighter leash here.
How dare they defile Prince Serdic's body like that?
Are you really going? I don't think anyone would say anything bad about you if you just ran away.
I'm going, no matter what. I made a promise to the Prince. Maybe I will end up causing problems for everyone, but that's my decision.
And this part of the exchange becomes utterly adorable once you've seen Route B.
So what are you going to do, Igraine?
Isn't it obvious? I'm going with you. I can't leave you alone with that Marie!
: I-Is that the only reason why...?
Well, I'm glad to have you along anyway, Igraine.
You're not going to try to stop me this time?
Igraine spends a lot of time acting her age and yet she's a great character anyway. Take notes, writers: this is how you do young characters.
(I'd also say "or like Route B Aegil," but let's face it, Aegil is the result of writing a character in their twenties and then dropping the age a decade.)
This conversation coming up feels a little redundant. I'm not sure why it's here, honestly; these two said just about everything there is to say at the start, and this conversation seems to contradict that one at some points. Take it with a grain of salt and try not to think too hard about fitting them together.
Altrius and Marie
Because if my elder brother was indeed dead, it fell to me to restore Bretwalde. Therefore...
Oh... so you were using me.
Well... That may be true. But you're the one at fault.
What did I do?
You began to act so much like my elder brother... I began to hope that my dream would come true...
Poor Marie. She thought that maybe, just maybe, five years had made her brother less of a jerk. She was wrong!
(Okay, maybe I'm presuming too much of Prince Serdic's personality from the "no name" thing. But seriously, that's an incredibly big dick move.)
I'm sorry. I should have confided in you, Marie.
No, it's all right.
Now, let's hurry to the Royal Capital!
Whew. That's that! Now for the stage, such as it is.
Izuna will lure out the top group, Altrius will lure out the bottom. Igraine's positioned to make use of Sedna Prison 3; she'll probably hit at least 3 of them with the 5x5 box, letting the others clean up.
Mage stats do matter, but their skills matter a lot more. Igraine would be much more effective with Sedna Prison 4.
Really, skills matter more than stats in general. There's a reason I didn't just stick Alhambra in training all Route B.
Miraculously, Owl manages to hit all three without getting countered.
Comparing a normal hit to a critical. Both are after Lateral Blow.
Alhambra, from the side, with her 6 Card, about +6 attack (she's level 10, so she'd have at least +8 if she was level 30) and no Lateral Blow. Sadly, she only hits one Armor before she gets countered.
Uh, sorry, Igraine. I move Marie out the way, but... I've got limits, you know? Especially when Altrius didn't kill the second Armor here.
I said this level isn't hard, but this is explicitly something you should not do in this game if you're playing well. You should take even the easy maps seriously; the margin between "can wipe out all enemies in a turn" and "can't" is incredibly important.
Igraine goes down. Izuna is a very close call, and Crazed meant one more attack would have been it for Alhambra.
I'd like to get Altrius to a higher level. He may not be very good, but he's still my lose condition.
After lengthy consideration, I decide to heal Izuna.
Izuna kills; the fact he'll be at full HP next turn lets me advance her further this turn.
Alhambra is at the very edge of Cure Drop 4's range.
Marie cures her next turn. The team advances forward a little, trying to lure the top Jouster, while Owl and Alhambra attack the Priests. Neither of them kill.
He took the bait.
Kill the Priests, get ready to move on the Snipers. Their AI and formation means that they have to attack you more-or-less alone, which is awful.
Alhambra takes out a Sniper. Owl continues to play team mascot.
I'm going to play the second half by the book: Lure small groups, smash, move on to next.
A better look at Izuna's dodge animation. She only took one hit this round. Her dodge rate seems very good for someone with so much HP -- it's possible I just don't put dodgier characers out there to be hit, but it's definitely helps with her surprising durability.
Izuna weakens these two and moves to attract the next group.
Altrius takes out one.
Alhambra and Owl take out the other.
Owl has hit one critical so far.
She dodges the first and heals most of the second. I kind of love you, Izuna. I'd forgotten you were this good.
History repeats. The other Armor is dispatched the same way the next turn.
Once you've cleared the Armors, you're more-or-less home free; Vital Power ensures that the War Mage can't really kill Altrius. I probably could have just killed the top group and ignored the bottom Armors entirely, but I believe in being neat.
Resets so far: 4 (+0)
Next time: With His Allies