I like to think that this is the chapter that new players remember most. While the prologue chapter was fairly simple, this one is a punch in the teeth; enemies hit hard, there are buildings that can be visited for items (necessitating splitting up your few units—reinforcements arrive if you wait too long, so getting everything ASAP is key), and it’s an escape chapter where both escape tiles are blocked off by tough enemies. It’s also early enough that we don’t have access to the base menu yet.
Not everyone loves that the between-chapter recaps/explanations are voiced in this game, but I do. They’ve got personality. Anyway, this is where we finally get some back story. It’s been three years since Ashnard (and by extension Daein) lost the war against Crimea, and since Crimea didn’t have the resources to also rule Daein, they gave it to Begnion. Needless to say, they’re not running things very well. All men of fighting age have been put into labor camps to break the country’s will/ability to fight back, and the rest of the country is poor and hungry. The only people fighting back are the Dawn Brigade, who are fighting for the people and for a free Daein, and it’s thanks to Micaiah’s farsight ability that they’ve been able to avoid capture.
Sothe is incredibly protective of Micaiah (who is the person he was searching for in Path of Radiance) and tells her to be careful about using Sacrifice in public because of how rare it is. It immediately gives her away as the Silver-Haired Maiden, which makes protecting her especially difficult. The Dawn Brigade decides to leave Nevassa for awhile because it’s not safe for them to stay anymore.
Meanwhile, Begnion soldiers are everywhere. The Dawn Brigade’s only chance for escape is to fight their through an alley which is the least guarded path. Thankfully, this time they’ll have the aid of Nolan, one of the more immediately useful members.
Nolan is basically Boyd-lite. He’ll be tanking most of the hits during this stage because of the relative frailty of everyone else, though he still can’t take as many hits as you’d expect. Leonardo’s first job here is to rush to the left of the starting point and into the building there to grab a vulnerary, because we’ll be using vulneraries pretty regularly here rather than saving them like in Path of Radiance. Speaking of which, one of the differences between the games is that vulneraries now heal 20 HP rather than just 10. That’s a good thing, too, because by the time Edward stops in the other building to grab a Hand Axe for Nolan to use (because we’re already dealing with indirect attackers), both he and Edward are within a single hit of death. Micaiah too, though that’s only because of using Sacrifice again.
Otherwise, this stage is as straightforward as the prologue stage was. Nolan and Edward take the hits and move forward, healing with vulneraries as necessary. Micaiah and Leonardo help clean up, and the goal here is finishing quickly (but safely); if you take too long, reinforcements come from the starting point, and that’d put them a little too close to Micaiah and Leonardo for comfort.
The citizens who support the Dawn Brigade block off the Begnion soldiers’ path in a show of solidarity while Micaiah and the others get away.
Micaiah’s farsight kicks in, however, and she realizes that they have to go back.
There was a child who talked to Micaiah in the prologue, and one of Begnion’s archers hits him with an arrow (without remorse) as they try to clear out the civilians.
Micaiah returns to the scene and uses Sacrifice on the child, saving his life.
The crowd of people realizes that she’s the Silver-Haired Maiden, and Sothe picks up Micaiah (depleted from using Sacrifice in a welcome example of a cutscene having the same rules as gameplay), using the chaos of the crowd to escape.
Despite being willing to shoot at them, the soldiers are hesitant to slaughter the entire group of civilians for just standing in their way. Jarod shows up and has no such qualms, though, clearing the way by killing a number of people in front.
We find out that everyone originally met in Nevassa and that Micaiah is especially fond of it, desiring to return there someday. For now, though, they’re on the move.