Chapter 18 is a bit of a relief after the craziness of chapter 17. Not a lot actually happens apart from the game teaching you how to use herons (basically, they’re like better dancers who can’t fight), and there’s a focus on setting the stage for things that won’t happen until later on. Oh, and Shinon can be re-recruited during this chapter. I’m only choosing to do so out of OCD and because he shows up in a prerendered cutscene in Radiant Dawn (which is to say deaths here don’t carry over into the sequel). It’d be a little weird if I murdered him and he came back.
I found a typo! This conversation is mostly just Sanaki thanking Ike for everything and telling Elincia that she’ll have the support of Begnion (as much as can be given while Sephiran remains elsewhere) and that she hopes that the two of them will work together to make a better world for both humans and laguz—that being a dream of her assassinated apostle grandmother—once Crimea is restored. She also explains that Ike will be leading the armies, and that he needs a title since giving that job to a random mercenary would look bad and have a negative impact on troop morale.
That means that it’s finally time for Ike to get his class change. Now he can start participating in combat again instead of continuing to fulfill the role of meat shield and glowing spot camper! Also, I didn’t really notice until this point, but Ike is outclassed by Nephenee. I wasn’t even trying to make her godly. She’s just so effortlessly awesome that she eclipsed the main character. A main character renowned for being absurdly powerful even by Fire Emblem standards, no less.
As mentioned before, this is a rest chapter where not a lot happens, so I’m going to take this opportunity to point out a few things. For one, there are these explanations of what’s happening/what just happened between chapters that have really nice art. No voiceovers (we’ll get those in the sequel), but the general composition and unobstructed view of character art are really nice. That helpful map I posted way back toward the beginning of progress log 12 came from one of these.
We cut back to the Black Knight and Ashnard, who appear to be wrapping up the conversation they started in progress log 11. Daein’s king is a chatterbox. Seriously, though, there’s a lot of stuff that comes out of this conversation. First we find out that their embedded spy has told them exactly where our new army is going to hit (we’re being risky and fighting through Daein to reach Crimea). Then Ashnard expresses curiosity about Ike’s fighting ability compared to Ike-dad’s, and the Black Knight throws shade, explaining that he’s “not worthy of his father’s name.” That’s unfair; he’d be way more impressive if he didn’t have that early level cap. Finally, Ashnard expresses surprise that there are two living herons and demands that the Black Knight brings one of them to him along with Mist’s medallion.
This is another screen that I don’t think I’ve shown off yet. Ever since Ike took over the mercenary group, he’s received reports from Soren about various things. The amount of money earned (it shows 20,000 because that’s how much I made selling all of the gems to afford Marcia’s custom javelin), the amount spent, the current amount, and also how much normal and bonus experience was gained in combat. It also shows the MVP of the previous stage—which was obviously Nephenee in that last stage—as well as any new allies gained or characters killed. No one has died, though, and no one will die. If Shinon and Jill are allowed to live, so is everyone else.
One of the most interesting parts of this chapter is a base conversation with Tanith (who we can now use as a playable character) in which she details Ashnard’s rise as Daein’s ruler. She explains that he was coronated 18 years ago after a plague struck the capital, killing the king, queen, and around 20 princes and princesses who stood between him and his distant claim on the throne. He was renowned as a fighter at the time, considered capable of taking on an entire squad of pegasus knights alone, and he was responsible for Daein taking a small bit of Begnion land over a number of skirmishes. That’s all interesting and worth remembering for later on, but far and away the most interesting part is the offhand reference to a devastating “great flood.” No details are given, but it’s worth keeping in the back of your mind because this event will tie pretty heavily into the lore once we start getting into the sequel.
Before starting the stage, Tibarn, Janaff, Ulki, Leanne, and Reyson show up unexpectedly. Reyson explains that he feels indebted to Ike for protecting Leanne and that he’s made up his mind to join, and while it’s possible to turn him down, there’s no real reason for doing so. Granted, Reyson is incredibly weak and won’t be able to survive physical attacks, but his actual role is one of support because he allows units to act a second time. Untransformed, he can refresh a single unit. When transformed, however, he can refresh all adjacent units, which means (potentially) having 4 characters acting twice every turn. Double the Nephenee, double the fun.
Tibarn also gives us Janaff and Ulki to protect Reyson. They won’t see much use.
There are some flying units to the right of where the stage starts that can overtake your party fairly quickly, as well as numerous reinforcements that show up around the area where you start. I used Mia and Zihark to block off the entrance just in case, while Boyd stayed near the start point to help finish reinforcements off. I also played around with Tanith’s “Reinforce” ability, which allows her to summon three computer-controlled allies. I totally forgot she could do that. These reinforcements could come in handy later on for distracting enemies, but here they just end up stealing kills.
There are a few characters who can speak with Shinon, but apparently Rolf is the only one who matters. You have to talk to him with Rolf, then have Ike defeat him. This is complicated slightly by a mage near his position who has long-range magic, but I was lucky and had most of my low-resistance characters guarding the front. Luring Shinon without killing him is easy—you only have to make sure that the character you put in his range can’t counterattack a bow and can survive a lucky critical hit or two. Nephenee it is, then! There are also three chests here that I had Volke open. I should probably start giving characters keys, but it worked out either way. Lastly, Naesala is working with Daein again, so there are some bird laguz reinforcements that move down through the fort. I had Ike and Nephenee block the hallway, though, which was a nice and easy way of keeping everyone else safe.
Since we fulfilled his weird recruitment conditions, Shinon survives the chapter and rejoins our group. Enjoy being a bench warmer until the end of time, jagoff.
Nasir tells Ike that his victory here was impressive and that similar victories are bound to galvanize Gallia into joining the fight. Ike gives all of the credit to his dad, then mopes a little about being an orphan. Not really the time or place, but okay.
Shortly thereafter, Soren confronts Nasir and claims that he’s long suspected that he was up to something. Soren reveals that he’s worked out that Nasir was sent to tag along by Gallia in order to determine whether or not Elincia was worthy of their support, but that he’s accomplished that mission and remains in the group anyway, hinting at another purpose. Nasir responds by blackmailing Soren about a secret he doesn’t want revealed, and then leaving to go to bed. Talk about suspicious.