I’ll warn you in advance: I went through this chapter while incredibly tired and ended up making a sloppy (non-permanent) mistake. Basically, I lost track of one of the stronger mounted enemies and was left with no characters who could finish him off. Meanwhile, Mist was in his attack range, so I had Volke rescue her. The funny thing about that is that I took away his weapon because I didn’t intend to use him and only deployed him by accident. Instead of attacking the rescue-slowed character who couldn’t counterattack, however, he targeted Soren. It was pure luck. Then again, I was owed some luck, because the level-ups everyone got on this map were atrocious. Chapter 11 was kind of a fiery train wreck in general.
Ike and company arrive at the port town of Toha to catch a boat to Begnion. Ranulf is in disguise because the alliance between Crimea and Gallia is only observed between the ruling classes and there’s still a lot of bigotry there. As for the citizens, they’re so unused to the idea of war that they’re going about their lives as normal.
Brom, Nephenee, and Kieran all join up without weapons, so it’s important to arm anyone you plan on using before starting the chapter. It’s surprisingly easy to send them out, only to realize that they have nothing to actually attack with. Personally, I gave Nephenee some lances and decided to use both her and Marcia. I’ll probably keep whoever has the best level-ups and abandon the other. To make sure the competition is fair, I put a couple levels of bonus experience into Nephenee.
The base conversations focus pretty heavily on the anti-laguz bigotry of those living in Toha, including this one guy who asks if Ike is headed out to sea. Eventually he bribes Ike by giving him a Laguzslayer sword on the condition that he considers joining up with his vigilante group later on. When conflict eventually breaks out, Ranulf will request that we avoid killing the town vigilantes since it would screw things up diplomatically between Crimea and Gallia. We’ll be ignoring his request and counting them among our first victims, so there won’t be a vigilante group later. But thanks anyway for the sword, soon-to-be-dead guy! You’ll wish you had kept it!
Nephenee is good with normal lances, but Marcia needs a forged weapon like the one Mia got in the last chapter to shine. Her damage output is so pitiful that even attacking twice because of her excellent speed isn’t enough to do any significant damage, and that makes leveling her up incredibly difficult. I figure that if she levels up a bit and still sucks, I can give the lance to Nephenee instead. Part of the reason why I’m making the custom weapons iron is that iron weapons have many more uses (and a better hit rate) than steel stuff, and that means that it won’t be burned through so quickly that it’s wasted money, even if Marcia doesn’t become useful.
I had intended to forge more than one weapon anyway to be on the safe side, but the game only lets you forge one per chapter. That’s one of those small details that I had totally forgotten about in the years since last playing these games.
Naturally, Daein soldiers show up before long and block off all of the exits. Then a citizen bumps into Ranulf, knocking off his disguise, and a crowd forms to beat him up because Toha is full of a bunch of rage-inducing bigots who’d rather side with Daein’s king (because he’s a human) than a chill laguz bro. That’s when the vigilantes show up and the townspeople start alerting Daein soldiers to Ike’s group’s presence. Obviously everyone must die, though there are two pretty major exceptions that we won’t be engaging at all for reasons I’ll get into later.
Among the mercenaries is a character named Zihark who’s pretending to hate laguz in order to help protect them from the mercenaries. Zihark will team up with a laguz character introduced in the next game and have a ridiculous evasion support bonus that makes both of them so untouchable that the laguz character can dodge attacks from end-game enemies while untransformed. Since Zihark is therefore going to be a big deal, we obviously have to recruit him and try to cap his stats so that he’s even more ridiculous in the sequel, and that means using Lethe or Mordecai to move up and slaughter the mercenaries. Personally, I chose Lethe for this because I like their conversation better. Zihark will engage her in dialogue even on his turn rather than attacking, so we don’t even need to worry about accidentally murdering him.
There’s a lot going on in this chapter. The goal is to “arrive,” which is kind of like the “seize” clear condition except for the fact that any of your characters can do it rather than just Ike, but moving up to the top-left of the screen and engaging the boss will cause the Black Knight to show up on the map (he also shows up after a certain number of turns). He can’t be defeated, and he’ll straight up murder a bunch of your characters if you give him the opportunity. That means the goal is to quickly take out small groups of enemies and visit houses for the items (though not with laguz because the people living in Toha won’t give them anything), but also avoid moving so far that you accidentally spawn the Black Knight and risk him killing someone.
The Black Knight is the first character it’s unwise to engage. The second is Jill, a Daein soldier who shows up at the end of turn 4 with a guy named Haar (who will be effortlessly great throughout both games). Haar is sleepy and disinterested. Jill wants to kill laguz because she’s stupid and uneducated. She’ll sit at the bottom-right of the screen with some other enemies waiting for you to attack, but it’s best to leave all of them alone. She has to survive this chapter if you want to recruit her.
Ranulf decides to take on the Black Knight and quickly realizes that he’s in way over his head. That’s when Sephiran shows up. Remember? That weird monk we saved in the last chapter? The Black Knight refuses to attack him for reasons that aren’t immediately obvious, and he also obeys his command to withdraw. This doesn’t just save Ranulf, but also gives Ike’s group the opportunity to sail away.
Meanwhile, Jill is all giddy to go off and follow Ike’s ship despite the retreat order. Haar tells her that it’s a stupid idea and she appears to back down, but we’ll be seeing her in the next mission anyway. Like I said, stupid and uneducated.
We finally get a scene with Ashnard, Daein’s king, and he talks about how he’s glad that Ike-dad is dead and that they’ll no doubt get their hands on Mist’s glowing medallion necklace soon. He also claims that there’s a traitor in our ranks, though unlike modern Fire Emblem games, it’s not immediately obvious who the traitor is. Especially given how many random characters we’ve been recruiting.
During this conversation, the Black Knight finally explains who Sephiran is: the prime minister of Begnion. That certainly explains his reluctance to kill him; were the prime minister slain, it would unite Begnion, Gallia, and what’s left of Crimea against Daein. Killing a potential claimant to the Crimean throne wouldn’t be a worthwhile tradeoff.