Fire Emblem – Path of Radiance: Progress Log #5

[Click here to start from the first progress log]

Chapter 5 is technically a “defend a certain point from enemies” stage where you’re supposed to feel like you’re under siege, but Ike and company are currently strong enough to engineer the death of every enemy on the entire map. In doing so, we’ll acquire a small handful of dropped items that will make later chapters a bit friendlier.

The passed out woman we brought back with us (I can’t think of a better way of phrasing this) turns out to be a secret princess named Elincia whose existence was never made public because she was born after her uncle was named next in line to the throne. The leaders of the other nations—including Daein—were told of her existence in case of an emergency, however, which explains why we found all of those dead Crimean Imperial Guard soldiers in the last chapter. Elincia explains that her mother and father were personally killed by the Daein king, Ashnard, and that her uncle ordered her to flee to the neighboring land of Gallia, which would be difficult for Daein to attack for reasons that will become clear later on.

She asks our little mercenary group to help her reach Gallia since her knight dudes who were originally taking her are super dead now. We apparently don’t respond.

The reason I know this is that Ike is suddenly seen elsewhere talking to Titania about it. He brings up the fact that Titania was a Crimean royal knight in the past, which was evidently one of those kind-of-secrets that everyone knew about anyway (this no doubt drove her earlier eagerness to fight on behalf of Crimea), and she mentions that Elincia looks kind of like the king and queen. Suddenly, Rolf bursts in and explains that there are soldiers outside. They soon send a demand that the mercenaries hand over “Princess Crimea,” confirming Elincia’s identity, and the mercenaries all get together to finally settle who they’re going to side with.

Titania, Ike, Rhys, Oscar, Boyd, Mist, and Rolf all want to help the princess (or at least not turn her over, which would almost certainly result in her death), effectively siding with Crimea in the process. Soren and Shinon would prefer to side with Daein, with the latter’s reasoning being partially rooted in him not wanting to go to “beast country” Gallia. Gatrie rambles about how he prefers country girls to the more “standoffish” ones like Elincia, then finishes off his shallow idiot rant by deciding that he’s good with whatever Ike-dad chooses. Gatrie is a weird character.

The decision is made to help Elincia get to Gallia, though the mercenaries soon recognize by the silence outside that the soldiers were planning on attacking anyway regardless of whether they complied or not. They run outside to protect their base, and Ike-dad leaves Ike to guard the front entrance while he takes care of the back. With that, we get the preparation screen and start moving items around.

Making room is important, too, because there are a number of drops on this map. Two of them are notable: the Ashera Icon and the Hammer. The former gives a permanent boost to a character’s luck stat when used, while the latter is a weapon that does bonus damage against bulky armored enemies.

The guy with the Hammer is to the left of the starting point, so we definitely don’t want to send Gatrie over there. New enemies will spawn over time, though, so we need someone to clean all of that up. Titania is ideal for this, and having her deal with everyone on the left frees up everyone else (except for Oscar, who stays camped on top of the point we’re protecting) to charge down the enemies’ throats and start cutting them all down. We only have 6 turns to kill everyone, so there’s no need to worry about saving experience for weaker units. There’s no time for that if you want to get all the way down to kill the boss and get his Ashera Icon.

Ike ends up taking more damage than I’d prefer while finishing off the boss, and healing him with Rhys requires moving our sole healer into the danger zone. Thankfully, we can do this without worry because of the “rescue” mechanic. Basically, some bigger units can grab smaller units to keep enemies from being able to attack them. That means that once Ike is healed, Shinon can head to the edge of the danger zone and grab Rhys and neither of them can be attacked.

Of course, if Shinon had to move into the danger zone to rescue Rhys, then he could be attacked. The rescued unit is still safe so long as the unit doing the rescuing remains alive, but carrying a unit reduces skill and speed. If we’re ever trying to level a weaker unit and our stronger units kill everything in two hits, we might actually have them carry someone around so that the speed penalty keeps them from attacking twice. Rescuing a unit and being attacked is rarely desired, though.

In the last progress log, I talked about moving your weaker units last to avoid accidentally moving someone in a way that leaves your most defense-challenged characters exposed after their turn has already ended. You also want to try to avoid getting too aggressive with them when no one’s available to pull them out of danger, though. Right here you can see that Soren is outside of the danger zone, and yet he hits Adept and manages to kill the enemy he’s attacking.

In doing so, he opens up the opportunity for a nearby javelin-user to move into the unoccupied space and attack. I got lucky by having him miss (though I’m pretty sure Soren could have survived it anyway), but it was still pretty sloppy on my part.

By the time the final turn comes around, every single enemy on the map is dead and the retreat dialogue from the Daein soldier carries a certain “captain obvious” quality.

Of course, our massacre has pretty much burned all bridges as far as Daein is concerned, so we decide to leave before they can send more armies at us. Ike-dad has Titania, Shinon, and Gatrie scout ahead to make sure the path is clear, while Rhys is in charge of grabbing “essential documents” and burning the rest. Ike is on princess duty and tells Elincia to help Mist pack. While doing so, she opens up to Mist about how she cooked and cleaned and practiced swordfighting and horse riding rather than being raised as a traditional princess.

She notices Mist’s necklace, and Mist decides to also confide in her, explaining that the necklace was her mother’s and that it’s the only thing she has to remember her by. Then she casually mentions that it started glowing recently despite never having done that before and they’re both like, “oooh, pretty and not worrisome at all!”

One of the fleeing soldiers meets with this General Petrine character to explain what happened, and she quickly has him taken away and killed for running away. This is our first taste of how Daein runs their military under King Ashnard.

Petrine’s advisor Ena deduces that Elincia and the mercenaries will most likely try to flee to Gallia, and Petrine decides to go hunt them herself, explaining that she’s never failed and never will. Talk about famous last words.

We’ve met a lot of characters, and yet they’re a drop in the bucket compared to how many characters will end up factoring into the plot by the end of things. The back stories and numerous clashing character motivations that drive both games are really what make them stand out from other Fire Emblem games; in a lesser Fire Emblem game (say, for example, Shadows of Valentia), you’re able to look at the hair color of the characters to figure out who’s secretly related. Shallow stuff. In the Radiant games, there are so many characters that Petrine and Elincia both having green hair is purely a coincidence, and any such twists are instead forced to be built up to long beforehand and revealed naturally as storylines intersect. That ends up making a huge difference as far as the writing quality is concerned.

[Click here to go to Fire Emblem – Path of Radiance log #4]
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