The previous two chapters were some of my favorites in the series. The next two, however, don’t even come close to living up to them. I mean, this chapter and the next are nice from a “varying things up” perspective, but the upcoming stage is kind of tedious, and the next one puts us back in control of Geoffrey and his band of idiots (for the last time, mercifully). I wouldn’t go so far as to say that either are bad, but I could definitely do without having to worry about lava stealing my kills.
The Laguz Alliance managed to get past Micaiah’s blockade thanks to Ike’s distraction, but Zelgius and the Begnion Central Army are still in pursuit, forcing the laguz forces to pass through the Serenes Forest. There’s a secret road in the forest that leads back to Gallia (if you recall the world map from Path of Radiance, Begnion is large enough that it shares a border with all countries except for Phoenicis and Kilvas), and the idea is to use this road to make it back home.
By the time they reach it, however, the Central Army is only a day away. Soren mentions that they shouldn’t use it because of how fast Begnion’s forces are moving. After all, they’d have a shortcut to invade Gallia if it were to be discovered.
The only option left to them is the nearby Kauku Caves, which are a lava-filled deathtrap that supposedly has exits to both Gallia and Goldoa. Ranulf protests, but Soren tells him that they don’t have better options and that “even the most formidable natural hazard isn’t as deadly as an intelligent, living enemy.”
Zelgius, upon receiving confirmation that the Laguz Alliance has entered the Kauku caves, calls off the pursuit because following after them would be tantamount to suicide. However, a senator named Valtome shows up unexpectedly and tells him that he’s been put in charge of the army, so he’s calling the shots now.
Valtome decides that they’re going to take another path to conquer Gallia, but in a fit of caprice, orders the northern forces to enter the cave anyway. Zelgius protests, but Valtome insists and threatens his execution if he ever questions orders again.
There are two base conversations during this chapter. In the first, Ranulf is talking to Skrimir and it turns out that Skrimir isn’t actually as healed as he claimed to be, but that he’s putting on a brave face for the sake of the troops. He can make stupid decisions sometimes, but he’s not such a bad guy when it comes down to it.
The second base conversation is between Lethe and Lyre, who were fighting for some reason. Anyway, they make up and Lyre gives Lethe a Daunt skill, which is going to further reduce the chance that enemies can hit Ike or Mia.
Not just Ike and Mia, though, because it’s going to impact all enemies within a certain distance of Mia. That means that any allies near her will benefit from it.
More bonus experience! I put one level into Titania (just because) and a few into Soren since they both hit a number of stat caps already and normal level-ups aren’t likely to do them much good. Sadly, there wasn’t enough bonus experience to take Soren all the way to level 20—again, it’s a waste to use bonus experience to reach class changes since those provide the same stat upgrades whether using bonus experience or combat experience—but he got some points in his defense and HP.
Boyd and Mist reached an A-rank support, which is kind of interesting. I’ve never had them support each other before, but I’ve read that it slightly changes Act 3’s endgame as he specifically looks out for her in some dialogue.
Mia gets two new swords so that she can avoid burning through her forged sword (which only has something like 10 more uses left) during the upcoming stage.
Ike is just 24 experience points away from hitting the level cap, so to keep him from getting that much experience, I took away his swords. Now the most he can get is 1 experience point each time he’s attacked. That’ll make him more of a target for enemies, but it still shouldn’t be too hard to keep him from being attacked 24 times.
Mia hit the class change during the last level thanks to receiving some bonus experience prior to it, but Boyd hasn’t capped any stats, so doing the same for him wouldn’t be a good idea (and there’s not much left anyway). That means the goal of this stage is to get him involved so that he can get some experience. There are two paths from the starting point, and I sent Nephenee and Soren to the right while everyone else (led by Boyd) went down. The ground is covered with few dark spots, and those are the areas where enemies and allies will be hit by lava for 10 points of damage at the end of the turn. This can be kind of annoying because the lava sometimes finishes off enemies and robs you of the experience points, but the stage is pretty straightforward otherwise. Eventually both teams make it to the bottom where the boss is, and Boyd and Nephenee block things off (with Mia eventually moving down to help take care of some ranged units). Healers are refreshed by Reyson so that they can heal and then move away from the lava spots, and then the heavy hitters do their thing and the enemies simply don’t stand a chance.
Skrimir finds an exit and is relieved that they finally made it back to Gallia, but Tibarn points out that they’re not actually in Gallia. Instead, they’ve come out inside the territory of their isolationist neighbor, Goldoa. That’s not ideal.
They go to explain the situation to King Dheginsea, who’s apparently added an extra H to his name since Path of Radiance, and he understands that their intrusion was a mistake, but nevertheless orders them to go back the way they came. Skrimir can’t believe how unhelpful he’s being to fellow laguz since returning through the caves would be suicide, but Tibarn mentions that the dragon tribe has refused to help other laguz for centuries while they suffered and were enslaved. Even Ike joins in and tells him that he’s “a poor king who has so little regard for his fellow living creatures.”
Nasir and Ena show up (remember, they returned to Goldoa after the events of Path of Radiance) and ask for permission to guide the Laguz Alliance to Gallia’s border. They mention that Reyson is traveling with the alliance, and that the dragon tribe owes the herons a debt since they “saved the soul” of the king’s son. That’s the first time we find out that Rajaion wasn’t just some random dragon laguz who was going to get married to Ena, but one of the king’s sons. With that bit of prodding, the king permits them to lead the alliance to the border, but cautions that it’s the only exception he’ll ever make. Which is pretty serious since he’s lived since the goddess walked the earth and likely has plenty more years ahead of him.
Ike wants to catch up with Nasir and Ena, but they tell him that it’s not the proper time to do so and that they’re not supposed to speak to anyone. He then asks about why Goldoa isolates itself, but they don’t really provide an answer. But hey, everyone shares a pleasant farewell and the Laguz Alliance made it back to Gallia without getting murdered by ancient dragons, so I guess we can chalk this up as a win.