Part 67: By The Holy BladeWell, my absence was long and entirely unplanned, but it's now over! Naturally, this calls for a good chapter.
Unfortunately, we're just about out of those. Have this instead! While this would have been a more appropriate pausing point, I'm very glad I didn't leave you all on this map.
Chapter 34: By The Holy Blade
All that's left is to drive the Imperial Army out of the Central Plains! Everyone, lend me your strength a little longer to save Bretwalde once and for all!
I'm not sure you realize what an undertaking you've set for yourself. Men! Show them the fabled strength of proud Grand Meir!
No Errands again, not that it matters much now; I've got enough Amulets and everyone's promoted. It's much, much more annoying when you're not cheating. The constant absense of Errands at the midpoint is just one more reason I don't like Route A's gameplay as much. Route B is much more solid.
This map drives that home. Remember the big, interesting map from the midpoint of Route B, where you faced Gauss and all of his Grands in a map full of varied terrain? Sure, the execution was a little rough, but you could instantly look at the map and think, "Man, this is going to be cool."
That sure is a big, empty plain. Clotho and Matthias are dead, Alberich has defected, and Ernest seems to have bailed from the sinking ship. So it's just Gauss. Are you excited? I'm excited.
All of the Guardians have the same skills and roughly the same stats. (Most of them have Volcanic axes instead, giving them 5 more attack.)
This is the first time True Arrows has shown up in Route A, at least so far as I can recall.
All the Jousters are the same.
All of the Priests have Cure Drop, and the one in the bottom-right corner also has Oratoriorae. The top-most War Mage has Ice Spear, the one below him has Fire Raid. All of the Mages at the bottom-right corner have Abyss Gate, while the top one also has Magna Volt and the one just below him also has Yumil Magna.
Finally, we have Gauss...
...who is missing his Griffin Ring. And two-thirds of his skill set.
Seriously, what the hell? You could have just copy-pasted his first Route B appearance instead. There are generic Guardians who are scarier than this.
One more piece of disappointment for the road: There's just one conversation this time.
Kay and Alberich
I'm worried that you might betray us to the Empire.
I've already betrayed Emperor Gauss once--you think I would go crawling back? Impossible.
I can't say it any other way. If you think I'm lying, well... use that spear you carry.
...I've heard a lot about you. You don't seem like a man who would lie about this.
It's best not to judge someone by what other people say.
That's why I've been watching you as well.
I'll be heading to the front lines before you change your mind.
I'm counting on you.
Praise me all you like, but you won't get anything else out of me.
I meant it.
I see. Well, I'll do my best to live up to your expectations.
Let's get this over with.
There's about two to three turns of charging through the plains before anything actually happens. This mostly serves to make your mages useless.
The Snipers are aggressive. No one else is.
Altrius is eight squares away from the first Sniper. If the first Sniper shoots him or Sasha, then they have True Arrows 1 or 2. Alicia has the highest MC and is 9 spaces away; if they shoot her, they have True Arrows 3 or 4.
They shoot Altrius, so the skills are low. He regenerates it back.
Sasha's in range of the first Guardian, but I'm not very worried. She has plenty of Topaz Amulets.
She's also surprisingly evasive.
She also got a random lucky critical here, doing a comparatively massive 340 damage. Duelist + Back Bonus + Critical isn't a small sum -- I think that's actually the LP's record for a single non-spell non-OB attack.
Almost level 42.
The goal here is to play teleporter leapfrog next turn with Marie and Selmer. Having both Marie and Selmer with the team is definitely worth losing an Izuna turn or two.
None of the enemies are aggressive yet.
Marie pulls Selmer forward, Selmer moves one square within the foremost Jouster's attack range, Izuna and Sasha block off his sides. Alicia and Altrius should be fine, especially Alicia -- she has Mount Guard 3.
Just fine. Altrius takes even less -- 42.
Everyone kills the Jousters. Then Selmer moves to put Gauss at the very end of Yumil Magna's range.
One shot, one kill.
Glory to Grand Meir...!
The Gold Amulet is +12 defense -- it's not especially impressive, even if you're not buying Topaz Amulets en masse.
And in their place, peace has returned to the Central Plains.
It's finally over, isn't it?
I wonder if Prince Serdic is satisfied now...
The Prince... I'm sure he is.
You did it, Altrius! I'm so proud of you!
Altrius... Congratulations. I'm truly glad the two of us could meet.
So am I. But... I'm absolutely exhausted...
I think the time has come for you to take a long-overdue rest.
Great job, Altrius!
Congratulations, Altrius! That's Route A, folks.
Is Altrius dead? Probably! I guess it was more important to remove the curse from the Holy Blade than we thought, huh?
Okay, okay, enough pretending: as you've doubtlessly surmised, this is Route A's bad ending. It's obtained when someone other than Altrius lands the final blow on Prince Serdic, resulting in continuing onward with an unpurified Spanta. As previously mentioned, the Bad Ending route skips Premonition (the chapter after the fight with Prince Serdic), and it ends here in By the Holy Blade.
There's only two save slots, and there's three maps after the fight with Prince Serdic. If you use one save file, then you're screwed. If you use both, you probably alternate after every stage, so you're also screwed!
Admittedly, they really pound on the "give me an honorable death" thing, so it's kind of on you if you fail.
In the real run, Selmer doesn't quite have enough power to one-shot Gauss like this; I gave him a couple extra +magic rings in the Bad Ending run.
Normally, though, you won't see Gauss's death message. When you advance too close to him, this cutscene triggers:
Cardinal: The Empire has outlived its usefulness to us. As per Lord Mephreyu's orders, destroy them along with the Bretwalde Army.
What!? Damn you, Mephreyu... Our presence is no longer required here. Continuing this battle would be an exercise in futility. All troops, evacuate as quickly as you can.
So not only is the map design boring, you don't even get to play most of it. The moment you get close, you trigger an event and then they run away. Marvelous, isn't it?
Following this change of alliance, the Anrah cultists reveal their true colors:
How very... festive. To my knowledge, this is the only time that there are neutral units who don't have unique sprites. I guess they didn't care enough to make a palette that doesn't make the Order look like the Order of Evil Christmas.
Satan's Little Helpers are the Shin Megami Tensei kind of Neutral, not the Switzerland kind: They'll attack both you and Gauss, and they'll start moving after this. Theoretically, anyway. Gauss, as his dialogue indicates, will start booking it for the top-right corner, and his troops will follow right along after. The Order starts far enough away that it's very unlikely they'll ever reach him.
This conversation happens even if you're on the Bad Ending route, despite the removal of Premonition, when you're supposed to find out that the Order is still up to Bad Things. It's kind of odd.
There are two battle conversations with Gauss. They're the same before and after the Order's betrayal. Since one of those conversations is with Altrius, it's extraordinarily unlikely that you'll see both -- sure, Gauss might take a while to get to the exit, but the "run away" trigger is fairly far from Gauss, and one Black Ring probably isn't enough to catch up. You have to bring Altrius north earlier and try to cut him off.
I just cheated in four Black Rings. These two conversations were all I was missing all this time; at this point, I just wanted to get these out and be done with it!
Alberich and Gauss
I'm only doing what I think is best, Emperor.
Hah... I cannot argue with that. The two of us will finally be able to test our strength against each other. I'll show no mercy.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Altrius and Gauss
Serdic... no, I suppose you're Altrius now. You're asking the impossible. It will be you who withdraws!
You stubborn fool!
Pretty strong language by Altrius's standards.
As mentioned, seeing this conversation typically takes quite a lot of effort to see, and it's the same regardless of whether or not the Order's already betrayed him. This makes the conversation completely absurd: Altrius is chasing after a fleeing Gauss, who refuses to retreat and then runs away.
I could show the battle, but there isn't much to it: The Order very slowly advances towards you, Gauss runs away. You might fight a Guardian or two, if just to give you something to do, but you can run away from them very, very easily. Gauss takes about ten turns to reach the edge of the map, so let's skip to the end, shall we?
Bretwalde and Anrah... I underestimated you both...
Yes, Gauss is apparently unimportant enough to the plot from here that you can choose to let him live or just kill him here. No reward either way, though...
...you more-or-less need to kill him for the Complete Victory here.
Mephreyu still remains.
But... where is he?
Well, where do you think?
I agree. He couldn't be anywhere else.
Yeah, it's the only place that makes sense.
Wh-What...? You all know?
Don't you, Altrius?
I... I guess this is one of the those things I can't remember.
Rather conveniently selective amnesia... Mephreyu's goal is to obtain the power of the Darkness, which has been sealed away. In other words...
Resets since chapter 20: 4 (+0)
Next time: To The Sealed Cave