A lot of the early Act 3 chapters revolve around Ike’s group in order to give you some time to reacquaint yourself with everyone and figure out which characters you want to focus on. It makes things much more interesting later on in the act when Micaiah and Ike’s armies clash because you then have a sense of ownership over all of those characters. It’s going to be terrifying to have to fight Ike’s group, though. They’re growing more and more powerful while the Dawn Brigade members remain at the relatively weak levels we left them at. That’s normal, of course, but the difference in power is wider than I’m used to because of all of the stat bonuses from Path of Radiance. Ike, Mia, Soren, and Nephenee all got bonuses on Ike’s side, while Zihark is the only one who got them on Micaiah’s side. Oof.
Remember back in Chapter 2 of Act 3 when Lekain and another senator freaked out about the Laguz Alliance’s march and mashed their armies together? That other senator was Duke Seliora, and the narration for this chapter brings up the fact that we’ve captured his castle (as a side note: royal titles reflect the area people rule, so Ludveck was Duke Felirae, Elincia is Queen Crimea, etcetera). Losing the Ribahn River means that the Begnion Central Army has had to retreat, taking refuge in Castle Gaddos. Which is Lekain’s castle, obviously. Anyway, the senators aren’t very happy about the Central Army’s defeat, even though it’s technically their fault.
A random senator is berating Zelgius for retreating and telling him that the senate wants “all sub-humans roaming our lands to be exterminated at once,” ordering another attack. While Zelgius initially protests, recognizing that an attack while the Laguz Alliance is on the offensive isn’t a very smart idea, he eventually tells the senator that he’ll do his best to end the fighting as soon as possible.
Levail questions Zelgius’ apparent willingness to go along with the senators’ unhinged demands, but he defends himself by merely stating that soldiers aren’t in a position to question the orders of their superiors. Then he walks off without waiting for a reply. He’s not so unskilled at navigating the impossible and ridiculous demands of the senate that he’s left himself no leeway here, however.
Meanwhile, the Laguz Alliance is riding high after their string of victories. Soren brings up that they haven’t actually done any damage to the Central Army yet and that their best play is to use their momentum to negotiate a peace treaty, but Skrimir refuses and Tibarn and Ranulf both recognize that their tribes wouldn’t be able to accept something like that. In response, Soren comes up with a plan (off-screen) for pressing their advance without putting themselves at too much risk.
In this chapter’s base conversation, Aimee is talking to Shinon in a weird way, and when Ike shows up and Shinon storms off (because he’s still an awful, petty character), it turns out that he had made a special bow for Aimee to help the group’s finances. She gives Ike the payment for the bow, which is one Blue Gem.
Mia’s other sword broke at the end of the last stage, so she gets a few new ones. Nothing special—just some low-powered swords with lots of uses. Her and Ike will wander into groups of enemies once they hit an A-level support, so being able to counterattack even if attacked by a comical number of enemies is important.
Shinon didn’t just sell Aimee a bow as an excuse to give the group a Blue Gem. It’s actually one of her temporary special items. Of course, I don’t use bow-users, so there’s no justifying the cost. It’s still nice to see gameplay implications for story stuff, though. Not enough games go out of their way to connect the two like this.
Since Soren has a support with Nephenee and will likely find himself with her in the middle of danger as a result, I put the Shade skill obtained from the last chapter’s boss on him. This supposedly reduces his chance of being attacked by enemies, which is perfect. Of course, it doesn’t eliminate the chance of him being attacked, but it’s a nice safety net regardless and should make it easier to use him.
While Soren’s plan initially goes well and boxes in a bunch of enemy forces, Zelgius challenges Skrimir to a duel and the hotheaded idiot of course accepts. Naturally, it falls on Ike, Ranulf, and a small group of Ike’s mercenaries to rush to his aid to keep him from being killed. Since he’s Gallia’s general in the Laguz Alliance and the one most likely to be Gallia’s next king, his death would be a huge blow.
This stage is a bit of a hassle, as enemies have a height advantage and ballistae. There are some NPC beast laguz who’ll eat up a few of those hits on your behalf, but it’s still unwise to bring weak units into their range until they’ve used up all of their shots. The easiest way to avoid trouble would probably be to remove the Pass skill from Heather and stick it onto Ike or Mia or Nephenee so that they could climb up past enemies, but I didn’t want to take it from Heather in case she needs it to run past someone and steal something later on. Since healers can’t move into range of the ballistae and enemies are attacking from higher platforms (and thus have a better chance to hit), vulneraries are hugely important here. It was a good call to buy a bunch of half-priced vulneraries when Soren got that Silver Card from Aimee.
I considered using Heather to steal the boss’ concoction toward the end of the stage, but he had a Killing Edge sword and a Storm Sword capable of attacking directly, and it eventually occurred to me that the risk far outweighed the potential benefit. Especially since I have a bunch of concoctions saved up already.
We arrive too late, as Zelgius and Skrimir are already fighting. It’s not going well.
Zelgius wins and addresses the laguz soldiers fighting under Skrimir, demanding that they flee. He also tells his own forces not to attack the fleeing laguz soldiers. His forces are impressed enough by his ability to end the fighting with minimal casualties on both sides that their respect for him increases. Also, be sure to note that Zelgius refers to the enemy as “laguz” where most people call them “sub-humans.”
Ranulf asks him what he’s up to since he could have easily crushed the Laguz Alliance forces after beating Skrimir, and Zelgius mentions that the apostle wishes to end the conflict peacefully, though obviously not everyone in Begnion agrees with her on that. He also mentions that the best time to have attempted negotiations for a peace treaty would have been after crossing the river, just as Soren had claimed, but that he’ll give the Laguz Alliance three days to submit a peace proposal anyway.
He also tells them that Skrimir will survive his wounds, and that he tries not to kill his opponents when he can avoid it. It’s an entertaining quirk for a powerful character to have (one that I had totally forgotten about), and it could potentially help explain some things later on when we start to get into everyone’s back stories.
With Gallia’s general unable to fight, the Laguz Alliance (camped out for the moment in Castle Seliora) is more or less finished. Gallia has decided to retreat, while Tibarn’s forces are going to stick around for awhile to see how things play out.
Ike brings up the possibility of contacting Apostle Sanaki directly, but Reyson tells him that they’ve been trying without any luck. He also mentions that Tanith told him that Sanaki doesn’t even meet with the Holy Guards anymore, so something suspicious is clearly happening in Begnion. Something no doubt involving senators.