Here we are: the final stage. The ending is fairly long and filled with things happening, though, so I’m going to use another progress log to cover it rather than having 20-30 screenshots packed into this one. Now, the preparation leading up to the final stage is always satisfying because it’s where you can finally use up that hoard of bonus experience. Thousands upon thousands of points of experience, and that’s to say nothing of all of the stat-boosting items that need to be used. Stats are capped left and right for those sweet, sweet bonuses, and I even decided to try to bring Elincia to level 20 to help with one of the more difficult stages in Radiant Dawn. She capped pretty much every stat except for the one I needed her to, naturally.
Ike and Elincia’s one-year journey finally come to an end in this chapter. For me, it’s only been a month and a half, and it would have been even faster if not for the number of times I’ve put this on hold to instead cover newer games. I’ve ignored just about everything lately, though, and all for the purpose of powering through Path of Radiance to get to my favorite game of all time—Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn.
I didn’t record the entire ordeal of going through and deciding what to use on who (I didn’t look up character stat caps, instead eyeballing it and occasionally making poor decisions), mostly because it’s kind of boring to watch. This is a short little clip of what I was doing, though. As always, I’m not willing to abuse bonus experience here, so if characters get a bad level-up, they have to live with it. For example, Zihark hit level 20 and got no points whatsoever. Oh well. Many characters capped stats important to them, though. Boyd, Ike, and Zihark capped their strength, a whole bunch of characters capped their speed, Soren capped his magic, etcetera.
After all of the important characters were capped out, I still had a significant amount of bonus experience and number of stat-boosting items lying around. I considered using all of that stuff on Marcia, but decided against it because there’s no way she’s seeing any significant amount of use in the next game. Eventually I decided to put it into Elincia instead, which was enough to take her all the way to level 16 (and some change) and cap her strength and magic. There’s a stage in Radiant Dawn where you have to save her, and I figured that it’d be worth trying to cap her defense stat to help out with that, but she didn’t even get close. Not even after hitting level 20 during the stage. That means that the whole thing was a pointless waste. Shrug.
All of the base conversations here are labeled “friend” rather than telling you exactly who they’re with, which is one of those little touches that make you go “aww.”
Tibarn and Naesala have flying units taken care of, which means that the only things we need to worry about during the upcoming stage are horse-mounted units, normal soldiers, and laguz. The only flying enemy here is Ashnard, and he doesn’t move unless you’re playing on hard. Him staying still simplifies things quite a bit, actually.
Giffca is the beast-king’s “shadow.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, but he’s spent the game occasionally running errands and standing awkwardly behind him without speaking. I guess he’s like the king’s intern? Whatever the case, he’s not important beyond the fact that Simba sent him to aid us. Partway through the stage, we’ll have the option of bringing in either Giffca, Tibarn, or Naesala to help out, and I always go with Giffca because he hits like a tank and is basically indestructible.
Elincia gives a motivational speech to rally the troops, and Ike has the option of giving one of his own. If you do, more art! If you don’t, it’s slightly faster.
The guy on the right is a kind of sub-boss of the level, and he tells Ashnard that he should leave so that Daein’s royal bloodline isn’t extinguished. He apparently served Daein’s original king before the plague killed everyone but Ashnard. Then Ashnard tells him that it wasn’t a plague that killed his father. He killed him for the throne.
He killed everybody in line for the throne before him, in fact. Of course, you’d think that everyone would know about this if they had died to giant sword wounds, and what about all of the random Daein citizens who were also dying around this time? The game doesn’t go into details, but Radiant Dawn will cover how he managed to accomplish this (and it’ll tie into the events of that game) and it’ll all make sense.
Before the stage starts, Ashnard flies forward and taunts Ike and Elincia before reminding them that Ike’s blade is the only thing that can damage his armor. That’s not entirely true, of course—Giffca’s claws can also cause damage for some reason, and while I haven’t used them, I suspect that Tibarn and Naesala’s attacks would fare similarly. I don’t remember either game explaining why this is. It might just be a game-y contrivance that throws a bone to players who didn’t put Aether on Ike.
Nasir is a mandatory party member for some reason. I’m not entirely sure why. He won’t see any actual use. Everyone important to Radiant Dawn (who shows up in this game, at least) is already at level 20, and the only person who needs to hit the cap is Elincia. Since there’s no longer any need to focus on getting characters experience and worrying about one or two characters monopolizing all of it, all of the most powerful units can be sent off in different directions to kill everything. Except for Soren—his job during this stage is weakening dragon laguz with long-range lightning magic while staying as far away from physical attacks as possible.
Most of the strong units go around the left side, while Elincia, Ike, and Soren focus on the middle. It turns out that keeping strong characters grouped together was an unnecessary bit of caution, because my good characters run circles around the ones here. The only real threats are the dragon laguz and early knights, but Soren’s long-range lightning magic (combined with Reyson refreshing him for extra attacks) and Tanith using reinforcements as a distraction made dealing with them fairly easy.
Ashnard is kind of like the Black Knight in that he can take a lot of damage and beating him mostly comes down to Aether activating, but giving Mist a Physic staff to heal Ike from afar and dealing with all of the nearby enemies first actually makes it the easier fight of the two. Of course, this is on the normal difficulty. On hard, he moves like any other enemy and has a second phase. Also, you don’t get to bring Giffca/Tibarn/Naesala into the fight until that second phase.
After Ashnard is dead, Ena rushes forward despite the fact that his mount is still alive. It turns out that the “him” that Ena was determined to stay with wasn’t Ashnard as you probably thought (the game tries to fake you out), but Rajaion, who isn’t actually a wyvern. Remember when Ena said that Izuka’s elixir warps the form of laguz? Rajaion is revealed to have been a dragon laguz turned into a feral one.
Ena and Rajaion were engaged to be married, but he was driven mad by Ashnard at some point and had his form twisted to become the king’s mount. That’s why Ena was working with Daein (and why Nasir felt compelled to go along with it), as well as why Rajaion would become restless when Ena was nearby. Reyson and Leanne sing a galdr that restores Rajaion to his original form, and he dies in Ena’s arms.
Mist recovers Lehran’s Medallion from Ashnard’s body, and despite it being her only keepsake from her mother, she gives it to Reyson and Leanne since she recognizes that Elena intended to bring it back to the Serenes Forest for Lillia.
This may not be a very happy ending thus far, but it’ll get more positive soon.