Act 3 was a long one, but we’ve finally made it to its endgame chapter where everything goes horribly wrong, setting up Act 4. To be perfectly honest, I was caught unprepared by how difficult this chapter is. Earlier chapters were easily blown through, but Zihark got so many great level-ups that he got a critical hit against Ike (with only a 30% chance to hit) and easily killed him on my first attempt. It would have been smart to have Volug steal away his Tempest Sword so that he can’t use it here, especially since Mia has a chance to evaporate weapons and evaporating my own stuff would be stupid, but that’s ultimately the only issue during this stage. The stage goal is to rout everyone, but it’ll actually end unexpectedly after a certain number of characters have died. That means that Zihark and (to a lesser degree) Nolan are the only real enemies you have a risk of facing here.
This is the chapter where the base music changes to something more moody. I love both themes just about equally, and there’s no denying that this new theme suits the rest of the game much better than the old menu theme would have.
Nailah and Rafiel made their way to Micaiah at the end of the last chapter after Kurth saved everyone from Ike’s forces, so they’re currently with Micaiah and will actually fight on her behalf during the next stage. Again, it’s unlikely that you’ll actually face them since they’re way back there and the stage ends after a certain number of people are killed (enemies and allies), making it incredibly unlikely that you’d face them unless you went out of your way to do so. Which is not only kind of pointless, but also incredibly dangerous because there’s an enemy with a Sleep staff.
Micaiah finally confronts Almedha about blood pacts, asking her what she knows. She starts to become hysterical about Pelleas being dead, but Kurthnaga tells her to be strong and that Pelleas would want her to help for the sake of Daein. She agrees, and confirms what most people were already probably suspecting: Ashnard tricked his father into signing a blood pact with a wise man and then had the wise man trigger the curse. All so everyone who stood between him and the throne would die.
She also mentions that she saw how he ended the curse. Merely killing someone bound to the blood pact contract isn’t enough; you also have to destroy the contract itself. Ashnard personally killed his father and then tore up the blood pact, at which point the mark on the king’s arm disappeared. Micaiah asks why she didn’t tell them earlier, and Almedha tells her that she knew that they’d butcher her son the moment they found out. She kind of has a point since that’s exactly what happened anyway.
Back at the camp of the apostle’s army, Ena tells Ike that she has some bad news: Kurthnaga has decided to fight alongside Micaiah. He’s indeed one of the enemies during the upcoming stage, but he’s another of Micaiah’s forces who you’d have to rush forward to engage. There’s really no point. Ena tells Ike that Kurthnaga has good reasons for fighting with Micaiah (Almedha, obviously), but that she can’t tell him what those are. Dragon laguz always seem to be full of secrets.
Ena tells him that she’ll continue trying to reason with the prince. Ike notices her carrying something and asks if that’s how she’s communicating with Kurthnaga, and she explains that sending stones amplify the natural telepathic ability dragon laguz have. Back in Path of Radiance, it was established that the herons can sense each other telepathically, and it was also suggested that dragon laguz have a similar or greater such ability. Here it’s confirmed that they can telepathically speak to each other when in close proximity, and across long distances using sending stones.
Ike tells her to hurry up trying to convince him to stay out of the fight, because they’re not exactly being given a non-violent option here.
I’ve never received this base conversation before. It’s one that you only receive if Mist and Boyd have an A-rank support, and in it, Boyd gives Mist a stat-boosting item that raises a character’s magic stat. As for the conversation itself, Mist is feeling pretty run down, but refuses to take it easy because she has a complex about everyone running off and getting killed while she’s not there. Ike really grew up when he was orphaned, but it’s definitely left Mist with a few lingering issues.
The second base conversation is between Shinon and Rolf. The latter feels guilty that he can’t pay back the former for all of the bow lessons, but they both suck and none of this matters. We get a bow at the end of the conversation, but none of the good characters use bows. Shrug. Maybe we’ll sell it later on or something.
Reyson is fighting with Ike’s army. Rafiel is fighting with Micaiah’s (to the dismay of Tibarn, Janaff, and Ulki). That leaves Leanne taking care of Lehran’s Medallion in the middle of a giant war without any help. Surely that won’t backfire!
Okay, there are a lot of reinforcements here, but we have enough powerful characters to take care of them. Sigrun and Ranulf are mandatory party members for this one, which means units aren’t just trying to obtain experience (NPC units’ deaths counting toward the stage’s end means that it’s ideal to have enemies attacking playable characters instead), but also keep reinforcements from being able to kill off the weak units who stay in the bottom-left corner. Skrimir will lock down the top-left corner and distract the guy with the Sleep staff early on, which leaves the middle-right path and bottom-right path. Zihark is guarding the middle-right path, so that’s where Ike and Mia go. Titania and Boyd take the bottom path. Reinforcements show up from the bottom-right, so keeping one unit in that area is smart. In hindsight, I should have had Boyd cover that area and moved Titania up to engage more enemies. I did it the other way around and he took a bunch of hits.
Ike got hit with the Sleep staff, which left Mia sitting around to protect him, but I would have kept him away from most combat anyway since he doesn’t currently gain experience. Slightly more interesting is the fact that Boyd is the one who looks out for Mist at the end of the chapter rather than Titania because of their A-rank support.
A lot happens during the stage. Naesala is shown to be guarding the apostle, Micaiah hears a voice and wanders off suddenly with Sothe tagging along, and Mist and the herons start either passing out or remaining just on the verge of consciousness. Mist tells Ike that she needs to go to the medallion while Rafiel and Reyson are taken by Nailah and Tibarn to be with Leanne, who they find passed out on the floor (which was also something shown during the stage). Tibarn realizes that anyone with a strong sense of order—basically, anyone who could safely handle the medallion without going on a killing spree—is affected by the intense light coming off of it. Mist becomes conscious just long enough to tell everyone that the medallion’s seal is close to breaking, and to get the apostle so that she can sing the song of release. Also, that the dark god can’t be allowed to awaken from the conflict.
Ulki fetches Sanaki and she sings the song of release, but nothing happens. Also, Tibarn is infuriated to see her accompanied by Naesala (who everyone is mad at for betraying the Laguz Alliance), but they kind of have bigger problems at the moment.
Micaiah shows up with Sothe, and we learn that the voice that she, Rafiel, and Reyson have been hearing has been coming from inside the medallion.
Micaiah tells Sanaki that the song requires both the melody and lyrics. Sanaki tells her that she was only ever taught the melody, but Micaiah knows the lyrics for some reason and successfully sings the song of release. She goes on to explain that the lyrics came to her when she heard the melody. It’s not immediately clear if she means just now when Sanaki sang or in Act 1 when Rafiel sang a similar song, but the latter example caused her to tremble, so it’s safe to assume that’s where it came to her. Of course, this scene has pretty huge implications. The song of release can only be performed by an ancestor of Altina, so the implication is that Micaiah and Sanaki are somehow related (which has a further implication since Micaiah is Branded, but there aren’t enough specifics provided to start speculating yet).
Some of these videos are really hard to capture. It takes a second or two for the recording to start, and I don’t remember where all of the little videos like this are. Because of that, some of them have a small portion of the beginning cut off.
The dark god isn’t the only one who was woken up by the song of release. For reasons that will be explained soon, Ashera herself has also awakened from her slumber in Sienne (Begnion’s capital). She’s met by a cloaked figure who informs her that she’s been awakened early because the laguz and beorc proved unable to keep their promise to her that they’d avoid war, and that it lasted maybe 200 years before they started fighting again. She accepts the cloaked figure’s analysis and states that she’ll pass down her judgment in order to save them from themselves.
Back at Lehran’s Medallion, Sothe asks Micaiah if the dark god was freed, and she says that she’s not currently Micaiah. Something is controlling her while she sleeps.
Obviously it’s the dark god controlling her. However, it doesn’t seem quite as dark as everyone claimed. Before we can be given any answers, she realizes that Ashera is acting without her input and says something about having to consult with her first.
Skrimir and Ranulf are having a nice chat during the battle when a high-pitched sound distracts everyone. Then a light comes from the sky and strikes the battlefield, this being Ashera’s judgment. It’s not immediately obvious what the light did, though.
After Ashera’s judgment (which everyone just sees as a light), everyone near the medallion is fine, but it’s totally quiet outside for some reason.
Whatever’s possessing Micaiah tells them to go outside, and it turns out that the soldiers were turned to statues. The truly strong (as in, our usable characters and a small handful of relevant NPCs) have avoided petrification, though, and the statue effect isn’t limited only to the battlefield. Ashera just turned basically everyone on the planet to stone, and she hasn’t even regained her full strength yet.
That means that it’s our job to march into Begnion and politely ask Ashera to change her mind. And hey, we have a god of our own helping us along. It’s not even evil, contrary to all of the legends. That means that Dheginsea is a dirty dragon liar who helped to imprison a perfectly functional god for some reason. Act 4 is where we finally dive into the world’s history and start challenging some religions.