This is going to be a long one. Not because of the stage itself, which takes about as much time as the last one did, but because of how many story developments and base adjustments and base conversations end up happening. Things are starting to get pretty crazy, and they’re only going to get more so when Micaiah’s forces become controllable for the next two chapters. For now, though, Ike’s forces have to cross Riven Bridge. If that name sounds strangely familiar, it’s because it’s the exact same bridge that his group had to cross in Path of Radiance, back when we recruited Haar and killed Petrine. Only this time, we’re crossing in the other direction.
The narration is starting to include more back story and new information than it previously has, so we learn here that Valtome’s claim that Sanaki is a false apostle is one crafted by the senate itself to undermine her authority. Since Begnion’s people believe that the senators, like the apostle, are also chosen by the goddess, they’re tempted to believe whatever claims the senators put out there. Their claim that she’s a fraud attempting to lead them down the path of evil, then, starts to gain traction, and the senate imprisoning Sephiran (and making it look like she’s the one who ordered the arrest) only bolsters their argument. The Begnion army, then, is divided between those loyal to Apostle Sanaki and those loyal to the senators.
Sanaki gathers everyone and clarifies the sequence of events that led up to this point. When Rafiel revealed that Begnion’s senators were the ones who pinned the blame for the previous apostle’s assassination on the herons, leading to the Serenes massacre, Apostle Sanaki and Sephiran decided to investigate the senate and potentially prosecute them if they found anything that warranted it.
That’s when the senators started their power grab by imprisoning the apostle, telling everyone that her absence was due to an illness. They also forged an arrest warrant for Sephiran to remove him from the picture. She admits that while she and the senators never saw eye-to-eye, she never thought they’d be capable of something so low. This only confirms what everyone had already suspected, though, since Begnion’s actions during the war have run contrary to what she’s all about.
She tells everyone that she’s not going to allow the senate to declare her a false apostle or sit by while they run roughshod over Begnion, and she asks for help from the laguz tribes. Simba agrees to help, though with a few conditions: the “emancipation of any laguz remaining in slavery,” that new diplomatic relations “start with a clean slate” free from preexisting bias both sides hold for the other, and a full alliance between their two countries. Tibarn just wants Serenes Forest returned to the herons again, and admits that he doesn’t need much convincing because he really wants to “rip those idiot senators in half.” Everyone agrees to this alliance.
Despite not wanting the job, Ike is put in charge of everyone’s combined armies since he’s the only one there who’s earned the respect of all of the involved groups. He tries to pass the job off to Zelgius, but Sanaki tells him that Zelgius left to Begnion in order to rescue Sephiran. With no other options, he grudgingly accepts the post. Now, you’d think that this would come with a class change like it did in Path of Radiance (and at the end of Act 1), but it doesn’t. Not yet, at least.
Since Ike’s group and parts of Geoffrey’s group have now combined, the bonus experience saved up from Act 2 is now available. Haar and Boyd are the only ones who currently need any of it, but it’s nice to have a hoard of it for later on.
In hindsight, expecting Soren to contribute enough to the last stage to hit his class change was stupid. Especially given the two Master Crown items that are currently sitting in the convoy. Eventually the less useful characters will stop being used entirely, so it’s not like those class change items are being saved for anyone. With that in mind, I took Haar and Boyd to level 20 with bonus experience and used a Master Crown on Soren and Haar. I figured that Boyd is involved in enough combat to reach his class change naturally, so using one of them on him would be a waste.
For some reason, I totally spaced on checking anyone’s supports during the last chapter. Nephenee and Soren were far apart during the last stage, so I could have probably strengthened their support to an A-level one there. Better late than never.
In the first base conversation, Sanaki gives Ike a Master Crown. That means that all my deliberating over who uses one was meaningless and Boyd can join Soren and Haar as a third-tier unit. I really need to start doing base conversations first.
The second base conversation involves Sigrun thanking Ike for helping Sanaki. He tells her that he wouldn’t have agreed to it if he knew that it’d mean being put in charge of the whole army. Sigrun’s response? “That’s why we didn’t tell you beforehand.” Heh. The conversation ends with her giving Ike 20,000 gold.
Finally, there’s an exchange between Oscar and Kieran, the latter of which still believing that the two are rivals for some reason. Both characters suck and are forgettable (though Oscar needling him is kind of amusing), but the conversation ends with Kieran being given an Imbue skill. That’ll be useful on a competent character. It’s nice that keeping both of these idiots alive has finally paid off.
We’re not going to be using Astrid anymore, obviously, so I strip her Paragon skill away and give it to Soren instead so that he can level up a bit faster.
During the last chapter, Titania was on the cusp of becoming an amazing character, but she took a bit too much damage and didn’t do quite as much as I’d have liked. Her magic stat, however, is at 15. That means that Imbue will restore 15 HP per turn, and don’t forget that she also has the Sol skill that’ll occasionally activate and restore some of her HP. Titania just went from useful-ish to basically invincible.
Finally, Boyd uses the Master Crown Sanaki gave to Ike and hits his third-tier class.
Before the stage starts, Sanaki gives Ike his Ragnell sword, and we find out why he lost it after the end of the last game. It turns out that Ragnell is one of two swords that was used by Begnion founder (and one of the three heroes who imprisoned the dark god in Lehran’s Medallion), Altina. That means that it’s a national treasure. It also means that the Black Knight’s sword, Alondite, is similarly one of Begnion’s national treasures, and he somehow ended up in possession of both (since Ike came by it after it was thrown to his dad during a duel with the Black Knight). Anyway, its importance to the country is why Ike returned it, and now that he has it back there’s no need to buy him swords anymore. Ragnell can also attack indirectly, which means that Ike will become incredibly useful once he class changes.
Everyone’s all pumped up to go murder some senators, but Daein decides to become a problem again on their behalf, demanding that the apostle is turned over to them. We’ll soon learn why Daein is acting the way it is, but for now, we have no option but to knock their soldiers around a bit until they quit being a problem.
That’s to say that it would be unwise to attack Begnion before ensuring that Daein won’t interfere like they did when they ambushed the Laguz Alliance, so the army is forced to focus on the more immediate threat before they can safely push into Begnion and deal with the senators. Sanaki attempts diplomacy at first, sending a bunch of messengers to try to get Daein to negotiate, but they refuse every time. Some of their soldiers are blocking Riven Bridge, which connects the two countries, so Ike is put in charge of taking a small group (to avoid provoking them more than necessary) and clearing them out so that the rest of the army can cross. Which makes sense seeing as how the military option is looking more and more inevitable.
The very first thing you might notice is that the holes you can fall into work slightly differently in this game than in Path of Radiance. In that game, the immobilization effect wore off after the end of your turn, which meant that your characters could counterattack even after falling in. That’s not true of Radiant Dawn, however, so falling into a hole means getting sucker punched by every nearby enemy. Mia almost dies at one point because of this. Also, Tibarn and Leanne will show up before long (they seem to be triggered by reaching a certain point on the map), and it’s important to have someone grab Leanne because she shows up around a bunch of enemies. I had Haar kill a mage standing next to her, then had her sing to him so that he could rescue her and retreat back to the left side of the stage. Reinforcements only show up from the far-right, so it’s really just a slow march across the bridge.
Titania is a superstar here because she recovers 15 HP per turn and enemies love to attack her. The enemies who throw rocks, however, tend to aim for anyone grouped into a tight space so that they can damage as many characters as possible. These don’t do much damage, but it starts to add up and can be a problem if someone falls into a hole. It’s also worth mentioning that a bunch of enemies put up Shine Barriers, which can actually make it impossible for non-flying units to progress. They wear off after a number of turns, but it’s still annoying. Finally, the boss has a powerful crossbow. That’s not the reason why I kept Tibarn out of the battle (I wanted characters earning experience without having to worry about him snatching their kills away), but it’s probably not a good idea to have him face the boss. Titania and Nephenee tore through him like tissue paper, though.
Micaiah finds out that her forces at the bridge failed to stop the advance of Ike’s army, so she orders a retreat. A representative of the Begnion senate demands that they blow up the bridge and sacrifice the soldiers still on it, but Micaiah shoots his idea down. Needless to say, he’s not pleased, and he’s going to tell on them.
When he storms off, Micaiah has another of her fainting episodes and Sothe rushes to get help. She wonders aloud if she’s losing her powers, and muses to Yune (her bird, in case you forgot) that it’s strange that she considered her farsight to be a burden, only to wind up missing it now that it’s starting to become unclear.
Back in Gallia, Nailah is with Rafiel and Reyson and both herons suddenly hear a voice. Reyson is confused by this and thinks it’s Rafiel calling him, but Rafiel recognizes that the voice wants them to head to Daein and that they have to go.