This is a surprisingly deep chapter. The strategy required to finish it without killing any innocents is complex, the story developments reveal Ike-dad’s reasons for leaving Daein despite being one of their top generals, and the populace of Daein is cast in a slightly more sympathetic light (especially as far as Sothe is concerned). This is also one of the more fun chapters to play through because it’s filled with treasure chests and you get to punch a bunch of priests around. Good times.
A large number of Begnion reinforcements arrive led by General Zelgius, a renowned Begnion knight. Remember when Sanaki explained that she would provide as much aid as she could while Sephiran was gone? Well, he came back at some point and used his authority to send even more soldiers to aid us.
Soren isn’t impressed, recognizing that Begnion forces now make up the bulk of the army. He explains that this would make it easy for Begnion to take credit for retaking Crimea, allowing them to rebuild it however they want with Elincia installed as a mere figurehead. The conversation gets a bit heated when Soren brings up Nasir’s betrayal to highlight the fact that unchecked optimism isn’t really a great idea in wartime, but things quickly deescalate and Ike considers his perspective.
Way back when Ike and company were on a ship en route to Begnion, there was a base conversation where one of the merchants talked about a wargame him and his brother were playing. I didn’t post a picture of it because the takeaway advice boiled down to “use units that can take a hit to block the path of enemies,” which is painfully obvious. This conversation is a much more useful followup, though, because it highlights the fact that you can shove enemy units just like friendly ones. That’ll be required for getting through the upcoming stage without killing any friendlies.
The other base conversation here is with Sothe, where he talks about how he used to live in Daein and that Ashnard isn’t as terrible a king as you’d expect. Remember when I talked about the laguz kings being chosen based on strength rather than birth? It turns out that Ashnard views the world in much the same way, with even the poorest of individuals having a chance to be lifted out of poverty if they’re strong enough to be useful to him. For those born disadvantaged, that glimmer of hope (unique to Daein—remember, your opportunities and general value in both Crimea and Begnion are largely determined at birth) can mean everything.
I could have sworn that the Corrosion skill was unique to Radiant Dawn, and yet here it is. Huh. I’ll probably end up putting one of these on Mia in the sequel, but she doesn’t have any room now that she has both the Vantage and Adept skills, so I give it to Nephenee instead here. Basically, Corrosion sometimes activates and reduces an enemy’s weapon durability. That’s not always a huge advantage, but you’ll occasionally evaporate an enemy’s weapon in its entirety so that they’re unable to attack. This makes it easy for lower-level characters to get some free experience.
Mia’s weapon proficiency went up during the last stage, so she can now use the special silver sword that I forged for her in the last chapter! Lucky timing.
Since Soren used up several of the long-range Meteor spell’s charges dealing with a Sleep staff-wielding mage during the last chapter, I figure it’s best to send it to the convoy for now and replace it with new magic. While doing so, I notice that there’s some unused long-range thunder magic in there. Soren has been using fire magic almost exclusively, though, so he’s not able to use it. I give him an Elthunder tome to start to get his thunder magic proficiency up, and also craft him a more powerful Thunder tome. That should help the next time we have to fight dragon laguz.
Titania had conversations available with multiple characters, but after choosing Mist (to get my first A-rank support in this playthrough), she ran out of support conversations and couldn’t talk to anyone else. I initiated the conversation with Mist, too, so the conversation limit counts against both parties. That’s why I’ve been playing it safe with Ike and ignoring most non-Soren support conversations despite him being able to talk to Lethe and Oscar and a bunch of other people.
Ike ditches Zelgius to take a small group on a personal mission, which is obviously to go to Palmeni Temple like Nasir told him to at the end of the last chapter.
Inside the temple, there are a whole lot of bandits who are holding the priests inside hostage and forcing them to fight against their will. We get some nice bonus experience in addition to a useful staff if we can finish without any of them dying, which means that shoving enemy priests around is a necessity (long-range magic would work too, but that’d mean missing out on a lot of combat experience since this is one of the stages that ends as soon as the boss is defeated).
Most of the priests function as healers, but there are also a small number of them who attack with magic. The more turns you take, then, the bigger the chance that a stupid mistake causes one of your units to counterattack a priest to death. There are 6 chests here, which means that giving units keys is a valuable way of speeding things up. The combination of chest keys and Volke will ensure that we can end this chapter as soon as possible without having to leave any items behind.
Most units make a beeline for the chests, while Tanith summons reinforcements who act as a diversion to lure certain enemies closer. This is admittedly risky; some of the reinforcements have javelins, and you can see that they almost kill a couple of priests. They still prove to be an incredibly valuable distraction, though. Not only did physical units not target Soren, but there are two priests hidden away with Silence staves who didn’t bother using them for some reason. I’m certainly not complaining.
You can really start to see the value of Vantage on both Mia and Zihark here, as enemy after enemy attacks them, only to be immediately killed with a critical before they can get their first attack off. There are some reinforcements that come from the rooms with the chests (including some beast-type laguz who hit hard), but they didn’t prove to be much of a problem. Other than that, it was just Ike and Soren moving up the middle while shoving enemies around. Enemies who didn’t seem to care about their presence much because of all of the reinforcement units. Eventually Boyd circled back to help them while Tanith (with the help of Reyson refreshing her) dealt with an uncomfortably close archer. You’d think that taking out an archer with a flying unit would be a bad idea, but I don’t really care so long as it all works out.
The boss hits pretty hard, but one of the items Volke grabbed in the last chapter was a Brave Sword. I gave it to Ike before the stage, and it gave him two immediate attacks in addition to two more after the boss’ counterattack. A counterattack that never happened since he hit Aether on the first two and that proved fatal. Like I said when I put Aether on Ike, this skill makes certain fights so much easier.
I think this is actually the first time I’ve ever managed to avoid killing any priests here. Got it on my first try, too. And of course, we get rewarded with a staff that cures 100% of everyone’s health (on the entire map) as soon as it’s used. It also fixes annoying statuses like sleep, again for everyone on the map. That’s exactly the kind of ridiculous effect you’d expect from a staff named after a goddess.
Looking around the area a bit, Reyson and the others stumble upon a strange script written along the walls near a bed. It appears to be the herons’ language, and Reyson shuts out the world entirely as he reads through all of it.
After finishing, he explains that his older sister Lillia was imprisoned here by Ashnard after the heron massacre—which was two years before he even became king—along with the heron clan’s treasure (Lehran’s Medallion, which makes sense since Lehran was a heron). He continually demanded that she use her magic to revive the dark god within it, though Lillia didn’t actually have the ability to do so and eventually became sick and died. Before she did, however, a human woman with blue hair and eyes began to take care of her, and they became trusted friends over time despite the language barrier. It turns out that this was Elena, Ike and Mist’s mother.
It eventually became clear that Lillia wanted Elena to take Lehran’s Medallion and the “song of release” (the song Mist knows that’s similar to the heron one that revived the forest) and return them to the Serenes Forest. Mist explains that she’s sung that song near the amulet many times without anything happening, and Reyson explains that the song’s power comes from the singer and only has its effect when sung by someone named Altina. That’s why Lillia couldn’t do what Ashnard demanded of her, even if she wanted to. Which she very clearly didn’t.
All of the pieces suddenly click into place: Elena took care of Lillia and formed a close friendship with the captive heron, only to be trusted by her to take Lehran’s Medallion (Lillia probably read Elena’s mind and recognized, despite the language barrier, that she could safely handle it) and leave. This caused Ike-dad and her to both flee from Daein with it, hiding in Gallia and elsewhere until Ike-dad touched the amulet and killed Elena in a maddened state. In response, he crippled himself and entrusted it to Mist instead, with her having inherited her mother’s ability to safely touch it. Which means Ashnard has been trying to steal it back ever since so that he can proceed with his plans, and the Black Knight is now looking to kidnap Leanne to force her to do the same thing Lillia was tasked with doing: release the dark god.
Dun dun dun.