We’re getting to the point where stages require multiple attempts to get through them without losing a character. Chance is less of a factor here than series detractors would have you believe, but every once and awhile something crazy and unexpected happens. In this case, I steamrolled the stage and got a bunch of great level-ups, then had the boss crit against Mia despite having a 28% hit chance (which is even less than that because like I mentioned toward the beginning, there are some shenanigans behind the hit rate numbers that cause high ones to be higher than they appear and lower ones to be lower). She’s significantly less godly in this game than in the sequel, so that was enough to kill her. When I reset the game and went through it again, the house-destroying enemies were much more aggressive about reaching them and I got lucky that no items were lost. Also, the level-ups weren’t quite as good the second time around. That’s how it goes sometimes, though, especially when trying to level up especially weak units during harder chapters, and it was ultimately my fault for putting Mia in danger in the first place.
We already know that Sephiran is prime minister of Begnion, but that’s only because we’ve seen the Black Knight and Daein king talking about it. Ike and the others find out who he really is here for the first time, and Sanaki explains that he’s been traveling to the other countries in disguise to gauge what life is like for the people.
Sanaki also messes with Elincia by pretending that she has no evidence that she’s actually the heir to the Crimean throne, and when Ike finds out that Sephiran had already vouched for her, he flips out at everyone. One of the dickbag senators threatens Ike, but Sanaki tells him to stop and calmly (and super passive-aggressively) points out that Elincia needs the support of Begnion and is therefore at their mercy whether they like it or not. Elincia privately approves of Ike’s outburst, but they have no choice but to play ball so that they can have Begnion on their side.
This chapter’s base conversations aren’t thrilling, but we do find out that some laguz don’t transform. As tends to be the case with so-subtle explanations like this, we’ll soon be encountering a small number of these in battle. It’s best to approach fights with laguz like they’ll remain transformed forever anyway, though.
Astrid has a pretty good perspective on the world considering that she’s a Begnion noble, and she also comes with the Paragon skill that gives her double experience. The first time I played through Path of Radiance, I turned her into a killing machine along with Lethe, and the two of them murdered just about everything. Sadly, like Lethe, she’s not nearly as useful in Radiant Dawn, and that means that trying to cap her stats for bonuses in the sequel would be a huge waste of time.
Once we leave the base menu, Ike and the others complain about having nothing to do, only for Sigrun to show up and claim that the apostle has an errand for them. Ike accepts, recognizing the importance of getting Elincia in Begnion’s good graces.
The job is basically as explained in the picture above: stop some merchants and take their stuff. It’s not immediately obvious what the stuff that they’re taking is, but they’re mercenaries, so they set up an ambush point and wait to strike.
We get some dialogue revealing that the “merchants” are in fact laguz slavers, so the murdering we’re about to do is morally justifiable. That’s the best kind.
There are three houses with items here: two at the top-left of the stage, and one at the bottom-left. You can easily reach the bottom-left one right away like I did, but I wouldn’t recommend it; visiting makes houses indestructible, which causes the house-destroying enemies to all swarm the top-left and make things difficult. Instead, it’s probably better to use a throwaway unit (someone like Astrid who’s only there in case of an emergency) to get the item inside toward the end of the map.
Marcia can recruit her brother here, who we’ll be using approximately zero times outside of this map. She just has to be careful and avoid a nearby bow unit. She’s also weak enough right now that getting attacked by a bunch of enemies is a problem. Doubly so because they’re axe-users and have a weapon triangle advantage in addition to being strong to begin with. Her speed is useful, but relying on it too much is an easy way to get her killed. Other than that, this map is pretty straightforward: move two teams up and kill everything in the way. Zihark, Mia, Boyd, and Titania have the right side covered (with a little help from Lethe to be on the safe side), while a weaponless Gatrie—he’s here as a just-in-case meat shield, so there’s no need for him to attack—and the others move up the left. In hindsight, I probably should have sent more characters to the left, but it worked out in the end.
The boss and the rest of the enemies at the top-right of the stage don’t seem to move closer to attack. Not even the laguz that eventually come out (the ones that don’t transform). I didn’t want to kill the laguz for reasons best described as pity, and it’s not required since beating the boss ends the stage, but I made sure that everything else died. The boss is a little tricky because he has a Killer Axe and that can one-shot pretty much anyone on a good hit, so weakening him with indirect attacks first helps a ton. Mia was pretty fast by this point (and the chances of her dying to a 28% hit chance twice are virtually nonexistent), so I had her finish him.
Ike and the others aren’t aware of what the cargo is even after delivering it, and neither Tanith nor Sigrun are in a rush to provide answers. Suspicious, suspicious.
We cut to a meeting of all of the laguz kings, which is apparently their first in decades. Caineghis (*cough Simba cough*) finds out here that Elincia made it safely to Begnion, but Naesala explains that Daein already knows that she’s there and has sent people to kill her. Dragon prince Kurthnaga’s father, the dragon king Deghinsea, makes his first appearance and criticizes Naesala for preying on ships, pointing out that he’s been doing so in Phoenicis waters. Needless to say, Phoenicis king Tibarn isn’t pleased to find out about this despite Deghinsea mentioning that he causes similar hostilities with Begnion by constantly preying on their ships.
Tibarn is unapologetic, claiming that he’ll continue until Begnion apologizes for the slaughter of their “brother herons,” and one of the few remaining herons is present to chime in. Needless to say, he’s not in a good mood. Turns out that Begnion burned down the forest in which the herons lived and massacred most of them at some point. This has been vaguely mentioned before (the group of “merchants” Ike’s group just slaughtered mentioned something about it), but this is the first time what actually happened is explained. The heron massacre will be fairly important.
This is the most important bit of information, though: something about “Lehran’s Medallion” and the need to avoid war because of it for some reason. Simba refuses Tibarn’s aid in defeating Daein and Deghinsea agrees with the decision, explaining that a laguz alliance could cause Begnion to side with Daein and risk causing a bigger conflict. Hey, wasn’t Daein’s king after a medallion? And doesn’t Mist have a weird glowing necklace? This could be the greatest jewelry-related conflict ever!