This chapter is yet another one without a base menu, but we’ll get it back in the next chapter. As mentioned before, Act 2 doesn’t have a set main character, so this chapter hands us control of Nephenee (complete with stat bonuses after destroying huge swaths of Path of Radiance) and Brom. While Brom was a non-factor in Path of Radiance, he’ll actually be fairly useful in this stage and the next thanks to his high defense and Nephenee’s relative frailty early on. She’ll need a few level-ups before she can regain her former murder goddess status, but she’ll get there.
The nobles are upset about Elincia being buddy-buddy with laguz, but recognize that Leanne is close with Tibarn and Naesala and therefore hold their tongues on the matter. There’s resentment quietly building up among the noble classes, however, and it’s spreading rapidly, reaching as far as Ohma (which is the village Brom and Nephenee are from). As the narrator voice says, “Crimea’s unity is slowly rotting from within.” Time to lance some dudes in the face in the name of unity!
After Path of Radiance, Nephenee and Brom went back to their normal life of farming. Nephenee suddenly shows up dressed in armor, telling Brom that there’s a revolution brewing. Younger villagers are being whipped into a frenzy and turned against the queen, and the two decide to investigate, being her former allies.
It quickly becomes apparent that a populist is using heated rhetoric and preying on the Crimean people’s fear and hatred for Daein to radicalize otherwise decent people and sow dissent. It’s also kind of amusing that Ike is being put on a pedestal and name-dropped by those looking to depose the queen he fought for, effectively appropriating him as a symbol for a cause he’d never actually support.
I’m pretty sure Brom used lances in Path of Radiance, but he uses axes now. That balances things out a bit as far as the weapon triangle is concerned, though, because Nephenee is obviously a lance-user. Not that I’ve ever paid much attention to the weapon triangle. Still, it wouldn’t be ideal against the stage’s axe-users.
The two address the crowd, talking about how they fought with the queen and know that she’s got the country’s best interests at heart, but the populist turns the crowd against them by claiming that they’ve been sent as her spies. Populists always appeal to paranoia when backed into a corner. There’s no way of talking their way out of the situation, so the only option left is to fight. Brom mentions that they should try to avoid killing too many, and I try to adhere to that. Not sure if there’s a bonus experience incentive or what, but it certainly fits with the characters and situation.
There are houses to visit for items, as well as house-destroying enemies trying to reach them first, so moving quickly is important. Obviously we don’t have access to a healer, so like the early chapters in Act 1, there’s a reliance on healing items. Brom can take (and dodge) a lot of hits, so I like to send Nephenee forward while he distracts a large group of enemies. A new thief-type character named Heather shows up at the bottom-right before long and can be recruited by talking to her, and having a third character makes it much easier to reach all of the houses in time.
When I finally reached the boss, I realized that my characters didn’t do enough damage to finish him off. Beyond which, he had a 79% chance to hit Nephenee, and two attacks would be enough to kill her. Fortune favors the bold, however, and Heather stole an item that put her in a bad position during the enemy turn, so I decided to risk it and hope that he missed one of his two attacks. I got incredibly lucky and he missed the first one, and when the enemy phase started, he attacked before any other enemies. That means Nephenee finished him off, got a level-up, and ended the stage before the other enemies could harm Brom or Heather. These are the types of brilliant moments of fortune that I love about this series.
The villagers calm down, having had some sense (literally) knocked into them for now. Except for the ones we killed, obviously. Those ones are now worm food.
The boss of the stage gloated about his master Duke Ludveck (from a part of Crimea called Felirae) being behind the unrest with the ultimate aim of claiming the throne for himself, so Brom and Nephenee leave to warn Elincia about his plans.