Chapter 12 is the first glimpse we get into laguz types other than Gallia’s beasts, and since it’s not going to be a friendly meeting, we’re going to make good use of that Laguzslayer sword that the (now dead) vigilante idiot gave to Ike in the last chapter. But Ike won’t be using it, obviously, since his level is maxed and it’d be wasted experience. Instead it’s going to go to Zihark so that he can try to catch up to Mia.
We get a helpful map that’s finally filled in with all the major countries/areas of note in the series, and apart from the nations we’re already familiar with, it’s helpful to have a sense of where Goldoa (home of the dragon laguz) and Phoenicis/Kilvas (homes of different types of bird laguz) are. Since we’re traveling from Crimea to Begnion, we’re going to be going through some those territories on the way.
The captain who Ranulf set us up with was kind of revealed in the last chapter, but it’s here that we finally get a good look at him. If you’re thinking, “hey, he looks vaguely familiar,” it’s because he was the guy who gave Titania an elixir in chapter 3. It turns out that he’s a laguz named Nasir who’s altered his appearance to allow him to operate among humans. As for the green-haired kid, he’s a stowaway thief who boarded our ship in Toha because he’s looking for someone. He’ll be one of the major characters of the next game who helps get us through some early chapters, but even there he’ll eventually be outclassed and replaced, so putting experience into him here isn’t crucial and would probably be a waste of time and energy.
Since we’ll be facing laguz that don’t have indirect attacks in this chapter, we can stock up on healing staves and create a little barricade around Mist that ensures that she can easily heal everyone while the characters protecting her get attacked and gain experience. The trick to making that work is to use fewer characters than you’re allowed to bring. That way there’s less to manage and you don’t have one or two characters too far away from the huddled group that they can be swarmed.
It’s not long before it becomes apparent that the ship is being tailed by ravens from Kilvas. Nasir recognizes that they operate as pirates, so he tries to get away from them, only to run aground and fall into their trap. One of the ravens mentions that they don’t have long before Goldoa or Phoenicis notices, suggesting that their acts of piracy aren’t something that’s backed by the dragon or other bird laguz.
Soren mentions that, like flying units, bird laguz are weak to wind magic and bows. We won’t be using Soren for this chapter (and his wind magic broke from overuse awhile ago, anyway), and there’s no way I’m ever using Rolf for anything, so that information isn’t something that we’ll be making any use of here. Instead, I’m going to use Zihark, Mia, Marcia, Nephenee, Titania, and Mist. Also Ike, who’s mandatory and who will allow us to recruit Daein bigot Jill during this chapter.
Before the chapter started, I forged a sword just like Mia’s for Zihark, but he won’t get much use out of it yet. Like I mentioned earlier, he’ll be using the Laguzslayer sword here that does bonus damage to laguz. Mostly because it’s funny to give the fiercely pro-laguz character a sword designed to kill them. Some of the enemies here can hit pretty hard, though, so he’s not going to be a huge focus yet. Believe it or not, Marcia’s going to play a bigger role here since she’s fast enough to not get double-attacked, but weak enough that the boss will prioritize attacking her (because Mist will constantly be covered up by units to where enemies can’t reach her).
Jill shows up at the end of the second turn, having pursued the ship against the Black Knight and Haar’s orders, and joins up (as soon as she flies up to talk to Ike on her turn) because she’s ignorant enough to side with humans for the sole reason that they’re not laguz. Even humans she was chasing after on behalf of her country. I really don’t like Jill. The depressing thing is that right now she’s at a lower level than Marcia, but has arguably better stats. I’m not making Jill a valuable part of my group and you can’t force me to, game. She makes a decent meat shield for now, though.
One last thing: ships are always really weird in Fire Emblem games. You can have a raven one space away from being inside the ship (or at least that’s how it looks) and move a melee character to the edge of the ship to attack, but you’ll quickly realize that you can’t because it counts as two spaces for some reason. The ravens can’t attack from that distance either, though, so staying huddled up works in our favor and keeps us from having to work around the weird spacing.
With the ravens defeated and the ship unable to sail, Ike gets frustrated that he can’t do anything and disembarks, only for Nasir to realize that they’re in Goldoa and that doing so is a really bad idea. Ike is almost immediately confronted by hostile (and incredibly rude) dragon laguz, but the dragon laguz prince, Kurthnaga, shows up and tells them to stand down. He offers Ike water and food, and orders the dragons who were going to attack to instead help move the ship back into the water.
The artwork of the dragons moving the ship is pretty cool. Also, this screenshot is kind of misleading because it looks like I’m suggesting that Titania knows more about the dragon laguz than she’s letting on, when she actually answers that it was in a book she read. She also follows that up by explaining that the dragon laguz are known for being incredibly insular, which is one of those things that we won’t really understand the reasons for until much, much later. No, the real reason I’m posting this shot is that it offers a little bit of information about the goddess Ashera, as well as providing some context as to how long-living the dragon laguz are.
The prince mentions that our ship wasn’t too damaged to sail and that he’d love to spend more time with everyone since Goldoa has been isolated for so long, but that his father wouldn’t approve. He doesn’t ask for anything in return for the food and water he provides, though, and he’s totally polite about the whole thing. Nasir sends Titania out to tell Ike that he wants to depart as soon as possible, so Ike and Kurthnaga say their goodbyes and our group resumes sailing to Begnion.
Another of the reasons I don’t like this game as much as the sequel is that it can get a little preachy. The beginning and end of this chapter include weird conversations about prejudice, with this particular conversation steering into how easy it is to assume that certain laguz are good (like the dragons) while others are evil (like the bird laguz) because each race has such distinct shared traits, but that it’s probably not a good idea because all groups have good and bad members. Like how Crimea is supposedly the “good guy” of this whole conflict, but those Toha people were total dicks. Which is fair, but it’s not an especially subtle way of approaching the subject.
Nasir was absent while Kurthnaga was around, and Ike points this out, to which he mentions that he’s uncomfortable around dragons. Wasn’t Nasir a laguz himself? And didn’t the dragon laguz we just met have similar head markings to his? Dun dun dun. This doesn’t get turned into some huge dramatic thing like it would in a modern Fire Emblem game, though. Every character here has their own interests and motivations that sometimes clash, but that are nevertheless understandable.
Except for Jill. Her motivations are stupid and shallow and I hate her.