This is the chapter where we recruit the easily-missed character Stefan, which is one of the weirder character recruitments in all of Fire Emblem because of how random the requirements are. Stefan could be massively helpful in this game because he shows up strong and has the powerful Vague Katti sword, but we already have Mia and Zihark fulfilling that “absurdly fast sword-user” role, and Stefan shows up so depressingly late in Radiant Dawn (more than three-quarters of the way through) that he won’t be useful there. His sword, on the other hand, will probably end up in the hands of either Zihark or Mia at the end of both this game and the sequel.
After the meeting of laguz, that angry heron Reyson (who is/was a prince of the herons) visits Naesala to ask him what the goal of all of his weirdly shifty behavior is. Naesala gets a bit indignant that Reyson is siding with Tibarn given that both he and his sister—the latter presumed dead after the massacre—were taken care of by Naesala when they were young, and Reyson brings up that he doesn’t approve of Naesala consorting with humans given that his people were, you know, massacred by humans and all. One of the more memorable Begnion senators named Oliver (or Duke Tanas) shows up as Reyson leaves and it’s revealed that Naesala has been stealing artwork on his behalf in return for money. As for the next piece of art, Oliver strongly hints that he’s willing to pay a lot for Reyson since herons are rare enough to begin with, and a prince would be even rarer since they were thought extinct.
The base conversations here are surprisingly interesting. This servant mentions an ancient race known as the Zunanma whose ruins we’ll soon be traipsing around and looting for treasure, as well as mentioning that there have been reports about a “strange figure wandering the dunes in the northeast” of that area. That’s the only hint we get about how to recruit Stefan, and it’s more complicated than simply moving to the correct area; no, you have to have a laguz unit step on the right tile, or else you’ll merely be given the Vague Katti sword. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s annoying when you have an OCD character recruitment thing.
Sigrun is also a base conversation, and she mentions that the desert terrain of the next area slows movement for different units to varying degrees. She also uses the term “laguz” where most still refer to them as “sub-human,” and Ike is confused when she turns out to be a noble (as apparently only nobles can serve the goddess). Sigrun’s pretty cool, all things considered. She even tells us that there’s treasure in the desert, though the fact that you have to step on certain tiles and even then only have a chance to pick up the treasure isn’t really explained. But hey, more loot.
Marcia’s awful brother Makalov has a base conversation where Ike tells him that the mercenary company paid off his debts and that he’s now indebted to them. Makalov is the very definition of unimportant, however, so I instead want to direct your attention to how many awesome stat-boosting items are already sitting in the convoy. That’ll make it easy to cap certain stats for sequel-important characters at the very end, even if they have some bad level-ups in the meantime.
Chapter 15 is another weird errand for Sanaki, this time tasking us with dealing with some bandits hiding out in the desert. Needless to say, they’re not pleased with our arrival and act like they have the moral high ground, calling Ike and company the “senators’ dogs” when he explains why they came. Things take a confusing turn when the enemies turn out to be a whole bunch of laguz, but Sanaki’s motivations for sending us on all of these errands will make a bit more sense soon.
This is another stage where you only have to beat the boss to end the chapter, and while I imagine that not killing the other enemies would net you a fair amount of bonus experience, they’re hostile and there’s treasure littered around the level. Since abusing bonus exp is boring and our level-ups will therefore be random either way, there’s no reason not to just kill everything and get the experience that way. It’s much easier to grab the items hidden in the ground without enemy interference.
I don’t really plan around the reduced movement except to throw my hands up and be like, “yeah, I guess I’ll just move everyone forward incredibly slowly, then.” There’s nothing especially notable about this chapter except for Stefan’s recruitment, buried treasure (the locations of which I looked up to refresh my memory, but didn’t memorize the exact placement of), and slow movement. Most of the laguz in this stage are beast-type laguz, which are vulnerable to fire, and Soren has plenty of fire magic after I bought him some more of it. That means that he was an absolute superhero for this one. The only other thing I can think of is that the boss can be tricky because of how hard he hits, but one of the chest items from chapter 13 was a Laguz Axe, so Boyd can stand in front of the boss and let him attack first (otherwise he’d die when attacked on the enemy turn), then do tons of damage. The hit rate isn’t great, but Soren is behind him with fire magic, and Mist is also nearby to heal.
Oh, and class changes happen automatically at level 21. That’s definitely something I forgot about. For some reason I thought that you had to use Master Seals. I probably should have had Boyd use one once he hit level 20 so that he didn’t need 100 points of experience to hit the class change, but hindsight is 20/20.
The boss is Muarim, a future laguz bro who survives the chapter. We also meet fire mage Tormod, who turns out to be the leader of what he calls the “laguz emancipation army.” There will be slightly less emancipation than expected given that we just massacred a bunch of his people, but we needed the experience. I’m sure he’ll understand. Anyway, Tormod’s defining feature is showing up in Radiant Dawn on maps where keeping his squishy fleshy self unmurdered is a chore.
Tormod explains that laguz slavery has been a thing for a long time, and while it was outlawed in Begnion 20 years prior, the nobility don’t actually observe the law. Case in point: Oliver. That’s why Tormod and Muarim started this whole liberation thing. To break into houses with laguz slaves in order to free them, which obviously causes them to be branded as thieves. Ike mentions that he’s sympathetic, but that their methods aren’t going to actually change anything. Then he claims that he can help.
We cut to Naesala and Reyson, with the former having lured the latter out to the Serenes Forest, the herons’ former home and spot of the massacre. Reyson apologizes for being so harsh with Naesala earlier, and Naesala mentions that it’s getting dark and that there’s a nearby villa owned by a noble where they can sleep.
IT’S A TRAP IT’S A TRAP IT’S A TRAP IT’S A TRAP IT’S A TRAP IT’S A TRAP
Naesala’s people tell him (away from Reyson, obviously) that everything is ready and that Oliver is excited, with Naesala obviously feeling bad about what he’s doing, but not bad enough to avoid going through with it. He kind of makes Shinon seem like a well-adjusted and generally reasonable individual by way of comparison.
But he has his reasons like anyone else, and it’ll eventually (much later) be difficult to hate him for the things that he does. So be sure to hate him now while you can.