It didn’t occur to me until this chapter, but I usually stick Zihark and Volug into this Tibarn/Elincia group. Instead, they’re with Micaiah for this playthrough. That’s not a big deal (especially since she can use all the help she can get), and Nephenee and Boyd are both in this group to make things easier, but this is usually a really impressive level where Volug gets a bunch of level-ups and beats enemies while untransformed. Instead, this level gets the Nephenee treatment while Elincia and Boyd help out. Volug is a bit underleveled anyway, so it’s probably better this way.
Tibarn’s group has Elincia, Ranulf, Reyson, Lucia, and Almedha (though she’s there in a non-combat capacity, of course). Tibarn is always useful—all laguz royals are, really—but Elincia’s bonuses allowed her to become much more viable for Act 4 than normal. Usually she has to be hidden away and protected during this part of the game, so that’s a nice change. Reyson will also see some use in the upcoming stage because I’ve never bothered using the herons before, and it’s interesting trying to get them involved. Ranulf and Lucia, on the other hand, are done for the game.
Ranulf tells Reyson that he’s handling the rigorous trip quite well, to which he responds that he feels great. Remember how the chaotic war energies in Path of Radiance caused him to feel weak and made it difficult for him to use his heron powers? Well, now that most of the people out there have been turned to stone and Ashera (the goddess of order) is awake, he’s feeling great and stronger than ever. The group reflects on how funny it is that they technically have their desired peace.
Tibarn is a notable exception to this. The Disciples of Order haven’t bothered to attack the group yet, and Tibarn isn’t pleased about this. The others think it’s great that they seem unwilling to engage everyone, but he worries that the lack of conflict and chaos will cause the group to become complacent and lower their guard.
In the first base conversation, Reyson joins the list of characters who have found a Satori Sign after having Yune show them the location in a dream or vision.
The second base conversation involves Jorge and Daniel giving Elincia a Rexflame tome. They also talk about how they managed to avoid being petrified because they were in “that building” when the ray of light struck. It’s not really important since who was and wasn’t petrified is a bit plot-convenient, but the game at least tries to explain these weaker characters hanging around by establishing that they had ducked in the same building as Ike, Mist, Micaiah, and Lehran’s Medallion.
There’s really no point to saving money anymore since we’ll be at the endgame before long, and there are just enough ranged units in this next chapter to become annoying, so Nephenee gets a javelin forged to be extra powerful. Even better, the coin used made it even more powerful. That should help her to take out a bunch of annoying indirect attackers during the enemy’s turn, which is much faster.
At some point between when we last used Elincia and now, she’s decided to become a pacifist. This skill is a giant troll, as it makes it impossible for Elincia to finish off enemies. Obviously this needs to be removed if you plan on using her.
Nephenee, meanwhile, receives Fiona’s Imbue skill and Brom’s Disarm skill. Imbue is a good call because using bonus experience on her earlier has led to her having a magic stat of 13 right now, and recovering that much HP every turn has made her nigh-indestructible. The Disarm skill I put on her mostly for kicks. You never know when something like that could come in handy, though. It’s possible that she’ll eventually disarm an enemy with a powerful weapon and everyone else will be able to safely take shots at them because of it (so long as they’re finished off before the next enemy turn when they’d immediately re-equip it, of course). She might end up with a different skill later on, but for now, it’s fun watching her disarm everyone.
Yune will bless everyone’s weapons to be unbreakable right before the third endgame stage, so the clock is ticking to use up the Hammerne staff. As a reminder, this is a rare staff that completely restores a weapon’s durability (so long as it hasn’t broken already). This thing was picked up from a tent in Act 3 Chapter 3 (the top-middle tent), and I’m thinking that its best use at the moment is to ensure that Nephenee’s forged javelin doesn’t break. After all, it only has 20 uses.
The Disciples of Order finally attack, and Tibarn is more than ready to break some faces. Of course, everyone is surprised by the enemies managing to get so close without being detected, but we’ve already established that Leanne’s warning was incredibly light on the details. You can’t even blame it on her lack of experience with the common language, because the sending stones are being used by the other herons and they can communicate in the ancient language they all speak.
Our armies will eventually combine and we’ll have to pick our favorites to take with us into the endgame, so there’s no point using characters who aren’t already awesome. They’ll just eat up all of the experience better given to units like Nephenee and Boyd. Tibarn and Elincia are mandatory for this stage, which is a problem if Elincia isn’t capable of taking care of herself, but she’s really turned out well in this game. It’s kind of funny that her current competency is the direct result of randomly pumping a ton of bonus experience into her at the end of Path of Radiance. I had no idea that would snowball like it has. Talk about serendipity.
A bunch of the characters who are now done for the game still have weapons and items sitting around in their inventories (mostly because they played a role, however small, during Act 3). They have no need for those anymore, so I always make a point to go through and send everything to the convoy. There’s no reason to buy new weapons when there are perfectly good ones from earlier lying around, and since the convoy is shared between armies, it gives the others some added flexibility.
Goddess of death Nephenee goes left to murder anything foolish enough to engage her. A reinforcement who has long-range wind magic will show up before long in the vicinity, so taking him out is an early priority for her, but it’ll take a few turns for everyone else (who all go down and wrap under to meet up with her at the left side of the stage) to reach the point where he can attack them, so she has time. There are enough enemies with bows that it’s worth being careful about where Elincia, Tibarn, and Reyson move, but otherwise this stage is just throwing strong units into enemy territory and watching as they wreck everyone. Elincia isn’t indestructible, however, and some enemies are capable of hitting her. She regenerates health each turn, but not quite enough to use her as recklessly as Nephenee. I thought I was being clever by trying to have Tibarn enter the trade menu and move a healing staff (which heals the user each turn) to the top so that she equips it and restores more health, but her Amiti sword is locked and can’t be moved. She can still equip staves and have them equipped, but other units can’t move her sword. Locked weapons are there to keep certain weapons on certain units, and this is an unfortunate side effect.
The boss of this stage is Valtome. Since he threatened Elincia in Act 3, I figured it was only right to let her be the one to kill him. His tome poisons anyone hit by it, so Nephenee actually ended up poisoned when she was dealing with the nearby enemies. Thankfully, she had a Panacea (I think someone she killed dropped it at some point) and could heal the poison pretty much immediately. On the next turn, Elincia used her Hammerne staff to restore Nephenee’s custom javelin to brand-new condition, Reyson sang so she could move again, Nephenee used the javelin to take out someone with wind magic (which does bonus damage to Elincia), and Elincia used Amiti to hit Valtome twice in a row, killing him before he could get a single attack off. Good times. The only other thing to be aware of during this stage is that some reinforcements have bows, but so long as everyone meets up at the bottom-left of the stage, they’ll warp in far enough away that they’re not a problem.
After the stage is finished, Elincia tries to talk to Almedha and ask her why Ashnard invaded Crimea, but she doesn’t know why. Her and Ashnard had a falling out long before that point, so everything she knows about him and Daein is too dated to be useful. She goes on to tell her about how there was a strong attraction between them that resulted in a child, but that once she became pregnant and lost her laguz powers, she was useless to him. That bit about losing powers is kind of strange, but will be explained in a later chapter when Elincia asks Tibarn about it. Anyway, she also tells her that Ashnard became obsessed with their child until he realized that it had no special powers, at which point he used the child as bait to lure Rajaion to the capital. Needless to say, she feels guilty and responsible for all of this.