This is more of a nuisance chapter than anything. The short version is that Daein sets up an ambush for us, and going around it would take too much time, so we decide to walk right into it and turn the tables on Daein by sending Ike, Boyd, and Nephenee at them. Meanwhile, unavoidable boulders that make weird 90 degree turns and do 10 points of damage to anyone hit will be pushed down a mountain at the party. Needless to say, we’re finally going to be using some of those vulneraries that have been saved up over the course of the game since they heal exactly 10 HP.
Tibarn leaves Leanne in the care of one of his subordinates for a moment, only for the Black Knight to show up, attack the hawk watching her, and kidnap Leanne. I don’t think I’ve mentioned it yet, but the heron king/father of Reyson, Leanne, and Lillia is alive (though bedridden and not doing very well) and in Tibarn’s care. He’s such an unimportant character that he doesn’t ever actually appear in this game or the sequel, but here the Black Knight uses a threat against his life to keep Leanne from screaming. It’s not long after she’s abducted that Tibarn returns and the hawk who was attacked tells him that Daein kidnapped her, then dies.
This conversation between Ashnard and the Black Knight is especially interesting because Ashnard brings up the fact that many of the things that the Black Knight uses are strange and of unknown origin, which means that the Black Knight is an enigma even to the king he ostensibly serves. He doesn’t mind, however, and mentions that he approves of the Black Knight’s gift of special armor that renders normal attacks ineffective. It sounds a whole lot like the Black Knight’s own “blessed by the goddess” armor, honestly. He also brings up his wyvern mount that’s named Rajaion. This is what he was threatening to feed Petrine to in chapter 21.
Remember when Calill showed up randomly during a base conversation and could be recruited? Well, this Largo guy who knows her has pretty much the same base conversation with Ike. He’s fun and crazy like she is, though I’ve never, ever found a use for him. He’s absurdly strong, of course, and with some good level-ups could be on par with (or possibly even better than) Boyd, but his resistance stat isn’t anywhere close. Boyd’s defenses have leveled out to where he has 13 defense and 13 resistance, meaning he can be thrown into a mixed group of physical and magical attackers without having to worry. Largo has 3 resistance. Add on top of that the fact that Largo isn’t even playable in Radiant Dawn (though any stats capped here will allegedly give bonuses to Calill there) and there’s no compelling reason to use him.
Geoffrey is recruited with a Brave Lance, but he won’t be seeing much (if any) real use. It’d be a shame to let that lance go to waste, though, so I trade it to Nephenee. The only thing scarier than two powerful Nephenee attacks are four of them.
The group notices an ambush ahead while they’re moving to meet up with the Gallian forces that will be supporting the Crimean army’s efforts, and decide that going around it will take too much time. Time to plow our way through an ambush!
Daein’s troops have the high ground here, so non-flying units have to slowly make their way up the path. Meanwhile, enemy units will unpredictably push boulders down, likely hitting multiple characters because the way these boulders turn is kind of insane and nonsensical Flying units are a no-go, though, as there are a number of ballistae set up that shoot bolts. You know, the ones that do bonus damage against flying units? My solution is to sacrifice Tanith’s reinforcements as a distraction.
The great part about using Tanith’s reinforcements to draw ballista bolts (and a mage at the top-left who has long-range light magic) away from your own units is that these are long-ranged attacks. So long as you’re sure to tell the reinforcements to target a certain spot and hover there without attacking, they shouldn’t steal much experience at all. Otherwise, this stage is nice and simple. Ike, Boyd, and Nephenee work their way up. Mia and Zihark help deal with some enemies toward the base of the mountain while Soren and Mist heal boulder damage. Reyson is also useful here, because he can refresh the healers in addition to having a skill that heals adjacent units between turns. It’s not a hard chapter. Just a bit of a nuisance.
Ike and company make their way to the top, only to realize that there are five enemy units even higher up who are about to drop boulders on top of them. That’s when Tibarn shows up and kills all five enemies at once. Apparently Reyson asked him for aid, though he also came to tell everyone about Leanne. First, though, we have to reach the other side of the mountain and meet up with Simba and his forces.
Once everyone’s met up and the two laguz kings are present, Ike tells them everything he’s learned from Volke and how that ties in with what they learned about Ashnard’s imprisonment of Lillia. They realize that the invasion had nothing to do with either Crimea or Daein, and that its true purpose was to cause chaos.
We’ve already learned a bit about the flood caused by the evil god inside Lehran’s Medallion, but here we get an actual date in addition to learning that the dragon laguz king, Deghinsea, was one of the “legendary heroes” who supposedly fought alongside the goddess to trap the dark god inside the medallion in the first place. Remember back in chapter 12 when Titania mentioned that she read about dragon laguz still living who were around “when the goddess herself still walked the land”? It’s always nice to have things like that built up to a little before the reveal.
Deghinsea is explained to have alleged that a large-scale war could cause the dark god to be released even without Altina (or a heron, as mistakenly thought by Ashnard) singing the song of release, and it quickly becomes apparent that this is Ashnard’s goal. It makes sense: if his goal is to release the dark god but he doesn’t know where Lehran’s Medallion is after Lillia had Elena run away with it, then the second best way of accomplishing his goal is to force the dark god out regardless of its location by pulling every single one of the continent’s nations into a huge war.
Reyson mentions that it’s too bad that they don’t have Lehran’s Medallion in their possession anymore, because herons have the ability to sing a galdr that calms it down. If they could do that, then Ashnard’s efforts would probably be in vain. They don’t have the medallion, though, which means that the only way of avoiding the dark god’s revival is to murder Ashnard and end the war as soon as possible.
With all of that out of the way, Tibarn finally tells everyone that Leanne was kidnapped. They realize that Ashnard is incredibly stupid and still thinks that herons can be used to let the dark god out despite all evidence to the contrary.
Just one more reason to hurry to the Crimean capital and Aether him in the face.