You know what I just realized? The game doesn’t refer to its sections as “acts,” but as “parts.” I’ve been referring to them as acts up to this point, though, so I guess I’ll stick with it for the sake of consistency even if it’s technically inaccurate. Act 2 here moves us away from Daein to focus on Crimea and Queen Elincia, and we won’t have a main character like Micaiah who remains universal throughout all of its chapters. That can make things slightly tricky, though the characters we are given are (mostly) able to take care of themselves. This act is also only 5 chapters long, so it’s a fairly short diversion before we get into Act 3 where everything gets crazy.
The Crimean people aren’t thrilled about Ashnard’s son ascending to Daein’s throne given the fact that the war ended a scant three years ago, but that’s really the least of Crimea’s problems. The country’s nobility is pushing back against Elincia’s rule, and her desire to “strengthen Crimea’s ties with the laguz nation of Gallia” and refusal to rule Daein after the end of the war have caused them to view her as weak and naive. She had elevated Ike to the noble class after the war, making her critics even more upset, but Ike ended up renouncing his title and leaving.
Elincia acknowledges Pelleas’ legitimacy in the hopes of establishing a peace between the two nations, and the nobles aren’t happy about it. Especially that guy on the right. He’s so angry that his mouth is making an angry square shape.
Bastian’s smooth-talking could potentially help stave off some of the criticism, but he went to Daein as Crimea’s envoy. When the nobles bring this up, Lucia mentions that he volunteered for the job, and they use her interruption to point out that her friendship with the queen doesn’t give her a place in the royal assembly and that she needs to remember her place. They also insinuate (correctly, but still) that Geoffrey’s loyalty to the queen is the result of him having feelings for her, but Lucia keeps him from defending himself to avoid upsetting the nobles even further.
Later on, Elincia flies off on her pegasus to clear her mind (while remaining in Crimea’s capital of Melior) and Marcia tracks her down. While Marcia and her brother Makalov had intended to return to Begnion at the end of Path of Radiance, they both ended up working for Elincia instead. Elincia tells Marcia that she’s worried that she doesn’t have what it takes to be a good queen, but Marcia assures her that people are just anxious about Daein and taking it out on her.
In the middle of their conversation, Marcia notices something happening nearby. It turns out that Leanne and Nealuchi are being attacked by some wyvern-riding Begnion knights (I think they’re called something silly like Dracoknights in this game, but I keep forgetting to check) who intend to kidnap and sell Leanne.
Elincia tells Marcia that antagonizing Begnion’s army and potentially causing diplomatic problems isn’t something that they can afford, but that they should be able to intervene so long as they don’t realize that she’s the queen. She introduces herself to them as someone who serves the queen and demands that they leave, telling them that they’re trespassing on Crimean territory. They not only refuse, but mock the queen for having required Begnion’s aid to reclaim her nation.
The early chapters of this new act are a lot like the beginning of the game in that there’s no base menu (we’ll get it back before long, though), with the conversation moving directly into the stage. Leanne and Nealuchi are both playable, as are Elincia and Marcia, and Haar shows up before long in the top-left corner and can be recruited by Marcia. This is crucial because he’ll be a huge part of Act 2’s endgame chapter. Having Elincia cap a bunch of stats at the end of Path of Radiance really paid off here, as she managed to kill just about everything without too much of a problem. She’s always good in this prologue chapter, especially since she has a skill that paralyzes enemies for a few turns when it activates, but this level of dominance is definitely unusual. The goal of the stage is to survive for 8 turns while keeping enemies from grabbing Leanne and escaping with her, and Elincia and Haar are more than capable of tearing through enemies while the weaker units stay away.
After the fight, Nealuchi explains that they were traveling to the royal palace because Leanne needs to speak to Ike about something. Elincia tells them that he left over half a year ago and reorganized his group of mercenaries before disappearing, and that she also has things she needs to speak with him about. She offers to allow both of them to stay with her while she tries to track him down, and they accept.