The politics of this conflict have already become all tangled up and interesting (and will become even more so later), and this chapter is certainly necessary from a story standpoint, but I still have a strong moral objection to the sudden, practically required usage of Astrid, Makalov, and Kieran. In fairness, though, this chapter isn’t that bad because all it takes to end it is to defeat the boss. Really, the only problem it has are the enemies who set a bunch of houses on fire. I don’t like having to waste a bunch of characters’ turns putting out fires (literally) instead of attacking.
The narration begins with a recap (not just of the last chapter, but the context about Goldoa not being friendly to outsiders that players unfamiliar with Path of Radiance wouldn’t have) and then moves into new information: Begnion is having trouble attacking Gallia since they decided not to pursue through the caves and are unaware of the secret passage, and the country’s natural defenses are proving too much for the Begnion Central Army to handle. Senator Valtome decides to instead get to Gallia by marching through Crimea, but Elincia eschews the advice of the nation’s nobles and refuses all of his requests for passage and aid. Needless to say, Valtome isn’t happy with the response since he feels that Crimea owes Begnion for their aid in retaking the country back during Path of Radiance, so he ignores her, ordering his troops to enter the country and take what they need.
Elincia is alerted that Begnion has entered the country and is acting like bandits, stealing things from the citizens. After Act 2, that kind of thing isn’t going to fly.
She authorizes Geoffrey to use military force against Begnion’s forces if they refuse to withdraw, which means it’s time for Geoffrey’s clown show to mobilize.
Both Elincia and Lucia recognize that the apostle wouldn’t allow something like this to happen, and that they should prepare for the possibility that something bad is happening in Begnion and allowing for all of this ugly behavior.
You never, ever want to start buying things before reading through the base conversations. This will be a lesson on why that is. Since I spent all of this group’s money before Act 2’s endgame chapter, there wasn’t a whole lot left to work with. This Shine Barrier (which creates a barrier that enemies can’t cross, making it useful for setting up chokepoints) was calling to me, though, so I sold a dagger in order to buy it. I really wanted the Adept skill, but I would have had to sell off some stat-boosting items to afford it, and that wasn’t something I was willing to do.
The first base conversation consists of a bunch of villagers standing around and talking about what’s happening. None of our usable characters are even involved. It helps to get a feeling for how Crimean citizens are beginning to view Gallia, however, because while they initially settle back into their bigotry and want to side with Begnion, they remember Gallia helping them to rebuild and find themselves torn. Eventually one of them says “I wish we didn’t have to fight anyone at all.”
The second base conversation is a lot like the one from Act 2. Amy shows up again and chastises Makalov along with Calill and Marcia, and then Astrid shows up to defend him from the (rightful) consequences of his (idiotic and self-serving) actions because of love goggles. I adore this game, but it really ruins Astrid.
The last two base conversations are the three-star kind that actually give you something. In this one between Geoffrey and Elincia, she gives him a Master Crown and the two do some of the most highbrow flirting I’ve ever seen. Geoffrey: “I can only succeed at it so long as you depend on me. I am yours entirely, Your Majesty.” Elincia: “You are truly my finest and most faithful knight.” Ooh la la. Hot stuff.
Then there’s this conversation with Lucia in which she hands him 10,000 gold out of nowhere. This is why it’s always important to not buy things first. You can find yourself making making desperate decisions that quickly prove unnecessary.
I went back and bought that Adept skill and threw it on Geoffrey, then. That’ll be helpful for the next chapter (a lucky Adept activation + Brave Lance = enough hits to finish off the boss and end the chapter without too much trouble).
The Begnion soldiers are having trouble stealing things from the Crimean people because they don’t have much left after Duke Ludveck’s attempted uprising. The boss of the stage insists that they hurry up, though, because he’s convinced that Valtome will have them killed if they haven’t taken enough by the time he arrives.
I always send Marcia straight up first thing, though there’s an archer who she needs to avoid attracting the attention of. Other units move right and slowly start to deal with enemies, and eventually Astrid moves to a high platform to snipe at some reinforcements while Geoffrey and Kieran head up into danger. Meanwhile, enemies are setting houses on fire, and while you can extinguish them, it’s really not worth potentially losing a character over. Once I took some risks and was backed into a corner, I had no option but to have Geoffrey engage the boss. He hit Adept with his Brave Lance as hoped, and that was enough to end the mission. Whatever works.
Now that Crimea has made an example out of some Begnion troops, Elincia decides to try diplomacy again and puts Lucia in charge of getting a treaty negotiated.
Several days later, Valtome arrives in the capital and expresses his disappointment that Crimea has apparently chosen to side with Gallia. Elincia responds that they’re neutral and remain neutral in this conflict, to which Valtome counts that Begnion is technically Crimea’s suzerain and that her actions are tantamount to treason.
He continues threatening her and her people until Zelgius steps in and convinces him to leave. Elincia recognizes Zelgius from when he brought her reinforcements back in Path of Radiance, and he apologizes for his current army’s behavior.
The friendliness between the two is undermined when he demands two things of her: passage through Crimea, and the freedom to engage Gallia in towns near the Crimea-Gallia border. In return, he promises not to steal supplies from the people, and tells her that if Crimea doesn’t interfere, he’ll interpret that as agreement.
As he’s trying to leave, Elincia asks him if the apostle knows about this, and if she’s safe. He refuses to answer and takes his leave, knowing that both the apostle and Sephiran have been captured by the senate, but recognizing that divulging such information would be careless and probably counterproductive.