The thing about support bonuses is that enemies don’t receive them. Or if they do, the characters who I always have supporting each other are never near each other to reap the benefits when the two armies clash. The great thing about relying on supports so much, then, is that each side has massive bonuses, but only when you’re playing as them. That makes it surprisingly easy to defeat each army regardless of which side you’re playing as. Case in point: the Dawn Brigade is widely considered to be pitifully weak compared to Ike’s army, but Zihark and Volug will carve through this chapter without a care in the world, eating up experience and then ending things the second the weaker characters are put in potential danger.
The short version of this chapter’s narration is a reminder that Sanaki can’t attack Begnion while Daein is still a threat, effectively putting her army between a rock and a hard place. The heavy losses in the previous battle haven’t helped troop morale much, either. As for Micaiah, her forces move to the more easily-defensible Nox Castle. She hasn’t explained the whole “blood pact” thing to any of her soldiers, but they’re pretty much zealots regardless, so they don’t seem to mind.
When Sephiran escaped, he rallied people behind the apostle since they ultimately believe in her more than the senators (despite feeling that both are chosen by the goddess), causing riots in the capital, Sienne. Tauroneo suggests allying with the apostle’s supporters in Begnion, but Pelleas shows up and tells him that doing so would only motivate the senate to invoke the blood pact’s curse against Daein.
He moves into a room with Micaiah, Sothe, and Tauroneo and tells them that he’s discovered that blood pacts can be removed by the pact-maker being “killed by a third party.” Micaiah recoils in horror, especially after Tibarn made her think that she’d lost Sothe in the last chapter, but Pelleas insists that it’s their only chance.
He orders Micaiah to kill him, and you’re given the option to either do so or pass off the responsibility to Tauroneo. Personally, I had Micaiah kill him because my Micaiah is hardcore like that. One of the changes on the second (and beyond) playthrough of Radiant Dawn is that you can choose to refuse his order and talk him out of it here, and he’ll actually become a playable character later on because of that. Since this counts as a first playthrough, however, he dies no matter what we choose.
Shortly after he’s dead, Almedha finds him surrounded by those who were present for his death and freaks out. Tauroneo consoles her, telling her that he died honorably to save Daein, and she tells him that they’re all idiots and that the blood pact hasn’t been broken. They check Pelleas’ wrist and the mark is still present, indicating that he died for nothing. That’s what you get for trusting books.
There are two base conversations during this chapter, and the first is between Leonardo and Edward. Man, they’ve really been pulling their weight lately, huh? Heh. Anyway, the conversation is fluff, but we get a Tempest Sword out of it. This thing is basically like a stronger Wind Edge sword, and Zihark will be able to use this to attack Soren during the next chapter without moving into Ike’s range.
The second base conversation is also kind of fluff, but it’s amusing because Aran gives Laura a staff he thinks belongs to her, and it turns out to be one that was already there on the ground. She tests it out and Aran falls asleep, but she doesn’t put together that it’s a Sleep Staff. I don’t really bother inflicting status effects, but you never know when something like that could turn out to be surprisingly useful.
One of the things the shop sells here is a Physic staff. Laura might find that to be handy, though I’ve been trying to save up as many Physic staves as possible for Act 4’s endgame. Micaiah will be most useful as a healer in the final endgame stage, and there are a few others where long-range healing can really help out.
Zihark is going to be doing a lot of damage in this stage, which means he needs a ton of swords. An Iron/Steel/Silver Sword for normal enemies, a Killing Edge for anything that absolutely has to die, that base conversation Tempest Blade for Soren, and finally, a Brave Sword to help take down Ike. If you’re wondering where the Brave Sword came from (I certainly was), it’s the very same one that Pelleas randomly gave to Micaiah in Act 1. Told you we’d be saving it for later.
Janaff (who has absurdly good vision to match Ulki’s absurdly good hearing) tells everyone that Daein has holed up in Nox Castle with 10,000 soldiers. Ranulf can’t believe how few soldiers they have, and Sanaki explains that they have to attack quickly in order to not waste the chaos Sephiran has created in the capital.
Rafiel wants to speak to Micaiah, so Ike lets him and Nailah come with the army and promises to instruct his troops not to fire at Micaiah. With that, the attack begins.
Everyone plays a bit of a role here, either as an offensive unit or a meat shield. All of the enemies here will be laguz (with the obvious exception of Ike and his group), so having characters like Edward and Fiona block off the ledges is a handy way to funnel the beast tribe laguz toward the center. They’ll go up the sides and move to the middle, however, so Sothe (with the Beast Killer dagger that I bought earlier in Act 3 and put in the convoy for some reason) takes the right side while Nolan takes the left. The hawk laguz are the only real threat here since they can fly past your blockades and kill the weaker characters. There are yellow NPC allies manning ballistae on both sides, however, so this is much less of an issue. Still, I moved Zihark and Volug down early to try and draw some of the birds away from everyone else, and I attacked Ike to end the stage when I wasn’t confident that the archers would 100% finish off the hawks. Especially since Zihark got a bunch of awesome level-ups that put points into his strength stat. I definitely didn’t want to lose those.
Micaiah can’t leave the platform she’s on during this stage to join the fight, which sucks, but a random soldier gives her long-range light magic to use. There’s nothing wrong with using this, but I want her to save at least one use until the very end of the game. When we finally get there, all of our equipped weapons will become unbreakable, which means infinite long-range magic if we still have it.
Beating Ike doesn’t matter in the long run, as other forces break through Micaiah’s defenses and he simply moves his forces there. It sucks, but we were fighting an impossible battle and there’s nothing left to do but retreat further in.
Desperately searching for a way to get through this, Sothe remembers that Almedha seemed to know about blood pacts. They were so preoccupied with their situation that they didn’t even realize that she very likely has the answers they seek.
The fighting appears to be over, but Janaff sees something coming on the horizon and can’t figure out what it is. Ulki says that it sounds like a wyvern, but heavier. Tibarn suddenly freaks out and tells everyone to immediately hit the deck.
Kurthnaga (in transformed dragon form) shows up and destroys part of the castle. Ena and Elincia show up shortly thereafter and demand that everyone stops fighting.
Tibarn’s not about to fight a black dragon, so Ike’s forces are yet again forced to retreat unexpectedly (and Ena and Elincia both depart with them).
Kurthnaga, on the other hand, stays with Micaiah and tells her that he wanted to save both her and his sister. Micaiah won’t piece together that Kurthnaga and Almedha are brother and sister until the beginning of the next chapter, but it’s obvious to players, and it has implications: Almedha is a dragon laguz, and that means that Ashnard was married to (and had a child with) a dragon laguz.
Ena states that both she and Kurthnaga want Sanaki to negotiate a ceasefire and peace talk with Daein, and Sanaki is like SERIOUSLY WE’VE BEEN TRYING THAT FOR SEVERAL CHAPTERS NOW YOU STUPID PINK DRAGON IDIOT. We also find out that Lehran’s Medallion is also known as the “Fire Emblem” because that had to be shoehorned in at some point (a bunch of the games do this, and it’s always cringe-inducing), but that’s stupid and we’ll just forget it happened. Anyway, Ena decides that the best thing to do is to wait to hear back from the prince.
Elincia turns out to have crossed paths with Kurthnaga by accident while out searching for Bastian, who mysteriously stopped sending her reports.
This bit of information is phrased confusingly in-game for how little information it contains, but the short and easy to understand version is that Bastian was looking for the Black Knight. He reported to Elincia that after the war, Begnion had started looking into war crimes committed by Ashnard, and they sent an envoy to investigate these possible war crimes. The only thing Bastian managed to find out is that the Black Knight had left Daein (though to where, he didn’t know) by the point the envoy arrived. Basically, “the guy who’s elusive was elusive after the war.” The last report Elincia received from Bastian was that something more important had come up, and then he went missing. That’s when Elincia and Lucia left Crimea in Geoffrey’s care (so it’s probably currently on fire) and came to Daein to look for him.
Ike tells them that it’s dangerous to travel by themselves (which was proven by their performance earlier in Act 3) and offers to let them join up with Sanaki’s army. They accept his invitation because they haven’t been competent since Act 2.