A lot happened in the last chapter, but even more happens in the next two. We’re playing as the Dawn Brigade again, and that means it’s time to find out why Pelleas sent us into this pointless war in the first place (and in doing so, learn about some Begnion shenanigans that will eventually explain some things mentioned in Path of Radiance). Of course, it also means that Zihark and Volug will have more chances to massacre every single army that comes their way. Right now Zihark is the more impressive of the two from an offensive standpoint, but once Act 4 rolls around, Volug will get a ton of experience blasted into him and catch up in a big way.
The former Laguz Alliance (which is now just “Sanaki’s army”) doesn’t chase down the fleeing Daein soldiers at Oribes Bridge, which has apparently been renamed since the days when it was called Riven Bridge. That must be another translation quirk. Anyway, Sanaki formally asks Pelleas to allow her forces to travel through Daein, but receives no response, so they enter without permission while sticking to the mountainous areas in order to try and avoid a confrontation.
Micaiah’s episodes have been caused by exhaustion, so she starts the chapter in bed. Sothe yells at Pelleas for pushing her so hard, only to snap when Pelleas pivots from wishing her well to asking when she can continue fighting. He threatens to leave, but Pelleas responds by telling him that they and everyone else in the country will die if they leave. This might be kind of confusing in screenshot form, but we’re about to have a flashback as he explains what happened to lead up to this.
After Pelleas was crowned, Lekain showed up unexpectedly in the middle of the night. “Unexpectedly” is a bit of an understatement, in fact, because he literally warps in. We learn that Begnion has advanced research in all types of magics, and that the warp powder that the Black Knight uses is one of their inventions. The downside is that it exhausts the user (which was actually established in chapter 25 of Path of Radiance), which means that it’s only really usable by the strongest of soldiers. Anyway, one of Begnion’s recent inventions is a staff that has the same ability as warp powder, but without any of the downsides.
Lekain tells Pelleas that he has to do whatever he wants now, and it’s all because of this thing called a blood pact. Izuka is revealed to have been working on behalf of the senate to instill a permanent ruler who they could control (which is admittedly much easier than trying to control things with an occupation force), with the treaty between the two countries that Pelleas signed when he was crowned actually being the blood pact in question. Basically, they set the whole thing up using Elincia’s rise to power as a template, which is why Pelleas’ ascent so similarly resembles hers.
Blood pacts are explained to be magical agreements between a ruler and another party, and once sworn upon, any violation of its terms are punished with the destruction of the ruler’s kingdom. Lekain tells a story about a king long ago who broke the terms of his pact, only to have one person die on the first day, two on the second, and three on the third. The deaths continued to pile up until half of the kingdom, including his family, was lost, and he made a plea to the senate to undo the curse. If that sounds vaguely familiar, it’s because Tanith described the plague that ravaged Daein (which killed everyone with a better claim on the throne than Ashnard) in much the same way. Basically, blood pacts are yet another magical tool of the Begnion senate. One designed to complement their conniving duplicity.
Lekain finishes by telling him not to tell anyone. I don’t know why I find this so hilarious, but there’s something inherently ridiculous about a senator in a fantasy strategy-RPG game effectively saying “don’t go to the cops,” and I love it so much.
Back in the present, Almedha (Pelleas’ mom and Ashnard’s wife, as a reminder) recognizes the mark on his wrist as one received after entering into a blood pact. Sothe isn’t convinced that any of this is true, but Micaiah can tell that they’re telling the truth. Again, there’s a good reason for why she’s able to sense these types of things that’ll be covered in Act 4 when we start to get into who Micaiah is.
Pelleas starts to despair because Lekain told him that blood pacts can’t be broken, but Micaiah urges him to use all of the resources at his disposal to look anyway. After all, Lekain’s obviously not a very trustworthy guy, so he might have lied. Meanwhile, she’ll lead the army against Sanaki’s forces to appease the senate, knowing that fighting on the wrong side of the war is the only way to buy him time.
This is another of those chapters where there are too many base conversations to possibly cover everything, so I’m going to offer the short version of each. Pelleas mopes to Micaiah about screwing everyone over and gives Micaiah a Master Crown. Tauroneo wonders out loud if Sothe and Micaiah would be spared if they fled to Ike’s army to fight with them against Daein, but Sothe tells him that it’s pointless since she would never abandon Daein, and he gives him some Boots (which increase a character’s movement range). Micaiah talks to Sothe and he gives her 10,000 gold, telling her that it’s all of the money they have for the upcoming battles. The last three-star conversation has Sothe giving Nolan a Tomahawk axe.
The final base conversation doesn’t give you anything, but Micaiah gets to see Nico (the kid who got shot by Jarod’s forces at the beginning of the game) and his mom again. Their belief in Micaiah only strengthens her resolve to do whatever needs to be done to placate the senate until Pelleas can find a way to break the blood pact.
Recognizing that Sanaki’s forces don’t want to fight, Micaiah’s forces set up an ambush in a mountainous area that the apostle is trying to move through and send a general to distract Ike. A bunch of boulders are set up on the mountain in preparation for the apostle’s forces, and though Sothe and Tauroneo recognize that this is the kind of cowardly plan that she’d have originally objected to, she insists that their numbers disadvantage necessitates the tactics if they want to stand a chance.
Micaiah, Sothe, and Tauroneo are required party members for this one, and I brought along Nolan as well. Zihark and Volug will do the heavy lifting here, but I wanted to finish the stage in a flashy way. It’s entirely possible to wait one turn (so that the yellow allied units push boulders down on enemies) and then have your weak allies move to the top-right to be entirely safe. After that, protecting them is as simple as directing the yellow units to back up into that corner, at which point they’ll avoid attacking enemies and become effective meat shields that keep them from your units. But again, I wanted to be flashy and involve everyone to some degree.
Nolan can still take a few hits, so he helps Zihark and Volug to block off the tide of enemies coming from the bottom part of the screen. It’s not long until pegasus knights move to the top-left and work their way right, though, and while that wouldn’t be a problem if I was keeping Micaiah, Sothe, and Tauroneo blocked off by the NPC allies (as is probably smart), their involvement necessitates being aware of flying enemies’ movement ranges when deciding where Micaiah and Sothe in particular move. Otherwise, there’s nothing difficult about this stage. Enemies hit hard enough that I transformed Volug for this one, and as you can see, every turn or so I’d revert him back and halfshift him all over again to restore his transformation gauge.
The goal of this stage is to defeat 40 enemies, and since Zihark is so good at critical hits (and triggering Adept), putting him in a position to where enemies can attack him from 3 sides is always helpful. The more enemies are falling to him during their turn, the faster the stage goes. Sigrun and Tanith are actually bosses for this stage, but I’ve never once bothered chasing them down. I don’t think there’s an especially good reason to, and it’d probably require putting the Pass skill on Zihark or something.
Micaiah’s forces begin pouring oil down into the valley in order to set it aflame while archers are set up to pick off any of the pegasus knights who try to escape.
Sigrun and Tanith’s pegasus knights are prepared to give their lives shielding Sanaki from the barrage of arrows and help her escape, though, so they start flying up against her protests. Micaiah gives the order for the archers to open fire.
Before they can, however, Tibarn races in from behind and grabs Sothe, hovering in the air and threatening to drop him to his death if they fire a single arrow. Micaiah gives the order to cease fire as Ike breaks through. He and Ranulf then give Micaiah’s soldiers an ultimatum that they can either surrender or die fighting a hopeless battle, but Micaiah tells them that the only choice they have is to fight.
Before they can begin, however, Sanaki says that enough blood has been spilled already. Ike acquiesces, telling his forces to retreat for the moment, but when Micaiah says that her forces can’t similarly retreat, Tibarn drops Sothe. Tibarn: “Sorry, little Sothe, your friend just killed you.” Micaiah freaks out, naturally, but Ulki catches him safely before he hits the bottom. That’s one way to make a point. Anyway, as Ike’s forces leave, Tauroneo apologizes to Ike for what they’re doing.
Micaiah’s ambush has done serious damage to Sanaki’s army, killing a bunch of its Begnion and Crimean soldiers. The pegasus knights have also been grounded by the oil. If Sanaki’s army were to attack Daein in a head-on clash, they’d be likely to lose so many additional soldiers that they wouldn’t have enough to turn around and attack the senators and parts of the Begnion army that are loyal to them.
Sanaki mentions that she can’t understand “that girl Micaiah” using such horrible tactics, and Rafiel (who was led to Daein by a mysterious voice, with Nailah and Reyson coming along as well) overhears the mention of Micaiah and realizes that it’s the same person he previously fought alongside. The herons have brought Lehran’s Medallion with them, and Nailah points out that the conflict has grown to the point where the herons soon won’t be able to calm it down by singing. They need to end the war as quickly as possible to keep the dark god from escaping.
The game flashes to a bunch of different characters, all having a key moment. First, Almedha is using the sending stone Kurthnaga gave her in Act 1 Chapter 6 and begging whoever’s on the other end to come save Pelleas.
Then we cut to Pelleas, who’s discovered a way to break blood pacts in a book.
After that, we transition to Kurthnaga and Ena, and it becomes clear that Kurthnaga was the one Almedha was begging for help. Our future is full of dragons.
Finally, Zelgius finds and frees Sephiran from the prison he was being held in. Sephiran asks about the apostle’s safety, and Zelgius tells him everything that’s happened (that he was present for, at least). To this, Sephiran tells him that it’s “time for us to make our move.” And of course, Zelgius refers to him as “master” again.