This chapter can get slightly tricky because the enemy forces have a small number of ballistae that can hit units from far away, and there are also numerous raven laguz (including Naesala himself) who show up as enemies. Nephenee will effortlessly solve both problems as she’s wont to do, though she’ll have help from Janaff and Ulki and Reyson to a certain extent. This is a chapter that’s quickly finished, at least compared to some of the chapters that have preceded it, but it’s here that we finally start to see why everyone’s so obsessed about Mist’s glowing necklace.
The boss character here is named Homasa, and it’s kind of interesting that he has unique pre-battle conversations for a small handful of party members (Ike, Zihark, and Stefan). I had the opportunity to engage him with Zihark toward the end of the stage, but he had a 60% chance to hit and a 10% critical hit chance, which felt a little too risky for one or two lines. Ike had enough health to survive a lucky critical, though, so he got his special line of dialogue and was the one to finish him off.
Characters have picked up a few “Occult” skills from chests, and this is slightly misleading since there’s no actual Occult skill. Instead, Occult allows class-changed characters to learn their class-specific skill. For Zihark and Mia, that’s Astra (I chose to instead make sure that both of them have the Adept and Vantage skills—this causes them to attack first as though they initiated combat when engaged on an enemy turn, and also to occasionally get an extra lucky attack). For Ike, however, this is Aether, a move that can do massive damage while healing him. Later encounters are going to be made much easier because of his Aether skill.
Base conversation time! Jill is visited by Haar, who gives her a metaphorical pat on the head for being slightly less of a bigoted idiot now. Then we find out that there’s a Daein general named Shiharam who’s Jill’s father that we’re on a collision course with. We won’t be killing him in this chapter, but he’ll show up soon. Then Haar tells Jill that they’ll be enemies when they meet again and flies off to go be awesome elsewhere. Jill will soon fulfill her purpose by recruiting Haar and disappearing to our back burner of useless characters forevermore, but that’s still a ways off.
There’s also an interesting conversation with Ulki where he explains that laguz kings are chosen based on strength rather than being born into nobility, though that raises the question of who leads the herons since none of them possess any kind of combat prowess. They really are ridiculously powerful, though, which will be proven in Radiant Dawn (and Path of Radiance to a lesser degree) when they become playable characters. It’s an interesting way of assigning value that’s worth keeping in mind, because the laguz aren’t the only ones who view the world in this way.
Marcia is only a few points away from leveling up to level 20, so I use a tiny bit of bonus experience and the result is underwhelming. It’s a typical Marcia level-up, basically. I’ve heard other people say good things about her, but this is what Marcia was, is, and always becomes for me. Fast, weak, and so lacking in defense that she’s borderline unusable. Nephenee has proven superior in every way imaginable.
All right, so either Janaff or Ulki can talk to Naesala, but this doesn’t recruit him. Instead, he rushes to Reyson (so be sure to have him nearby, though obviously still out of range of the ballistae) and then orders his forces to abandon Daein for the fight. They become green “allied” units after that and start escaping from the edges of the stage, which not only means that they won’t attack you, but also that enemies will go after them. This really helps in luring certain enemies closer to your group.
I played with Tanith’s Reinforce skill a little more, but kept forgetting to have Ike direct their movement, causing them to steal a little experience. Oh well. Basically, anything winged needs to avoid the ballistae because it does bonus damage like a bow would, though Janaff survives a single bolt after moving to talk to Naesala (Nephenee lures him closer so that it’s slightly safer) because he was too heavy for anyone to rescue. Turning on the danger zone for the ballistae and making sure to slowly deal with nearby groups of enemies while trying to initiate the conversation that causes the laguz enemies to leave is the key to making this stage a cakewalk.
After the stage, the mercenaries find a ton of money that the Daein people were sitting on. I’m assuming that this was what Petrine planned on paying Naesala with. Whatever its origin, Ike suddenly has enough money to pay Volke for the information he claimed to have back in chapter 10 (we’ve had 50,000 gold prior to this point because I’m a hoarder, of course, but this is magical story-progression money).
Volke explains that Ike-dad hired him to murder him if he ever went crazy, and reveals that Mist’s necklace is called “Lehran’s Medallion,” with the original owner Lehran being a distant heron ancestor of Reyson. It was said that a group of heroes defeated a dark god and trapped it in the medallion, and that’s backed up by the effect it has on those who touch it; a single touch magnifies the worst aspects of a person, so the only people who can safely handle it are Mist and Elena (Ike and Mist’s mother) who are/were balanced enough for this to have no effect on them.
Ike-dad is revealed to have formerly been a general of Daein named Gawain. For some perspective, Petrine is one of the Four Riders now, so Ike-dad was a huge deal in Daein (and according to Volke, absurdly powerful back in those days). Volke then explains that Ike-dad touched Lehran’s Medallion once and went into a frenzy, killing everyone around him. Elena managed to snatch it away from him so that he regained his senses, but not before he had inflicted a fatal wound on her. In response, he entrusted the medallion to Mist and severed the tendons in his sword hand to cripple himself so that he’d never be able to do that kind of damage again, then hired Volke to kill him should doing so ever become necessary.
At the end of his explanation, Volke offers the option of hiring him in case Ike ever goes crazy like his dad did, and choosing to hire him results in a class change. I don’t think he’s gained a single level in all the time he’s been around, so his stats after the class change aren’t anything special, but at least he’ll be slightly less likely to die if we ever need him to sneak around and open a door or chest. Then again, we can probably just start using door and chest keys instead of relying on him.