This is going to be a special chapter. Not only are we going to kill an endless number of feral laguz and have some lingering questions answered, but Nephenee is going to reach a whole new level of godhood, Geoffrey will make and break a promise to Elincia in the span of about 30 seconds, and we’ll get Volke back (and he’ll actually be competent!). All things considered, a lot of stuff happens during this chapter.
I feel kind of bad for the people who had to come up with the narration at this point in the game. There’s not all that much that you can say about a single group of people continuing to go to a place. Basically, everyone’s becoming fast friends except for Almedha, who’s moody and detached as per usual. That’s not really news.
Elincia asks Tibarn about Almedha supposedly losing her powers when she became pregnant with Ashnard’s child, and he doesn’t seem all that surprised. Apparently there are ancient songs warning that the goddess forbids procreation between the laguz and beorc, and any violation of this taboo results in the laguz parent losing their powers and becoming “something that doesn’t belong to either species.”
Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Bastian, who arrives in the company of Geoffrey, Volke, and this mysterious hooded guy who might look vaguely familiar. We’ll get to who he is toward the end of the chapter, but for now enjoy Geoffrey promising Elincia never to leave her side again.
Volke suddenly alerts Bastian that their “captive” (who hasn’t been revealed yet, by the way—the hooded guy and the captive are different people) has disappeared, and Bastian hires him to track their prisoner down. He had intended to speak with Tibarn, Elincia, and Reyson before this point, but the escapee takes priority and no one is in a rush to explain what’s happening to Elincia or Lucia. Which is hilarious.
The first base conversation involves Amy coming to the camp with Geoffrey, who rode around the city after Ashera’s light hit and found only her. Tibarn is surprised, having previously assumed that only those with a certain level of strength were saved from petrification, but obviously that’s not the case if a child can avoid being turned to stone. Anyway, Amy is taken to her (adoptive) mom Calill, and we find out that Largo was turned to stone. Calill then reassures her, promising that “mommy and Queen Elincia are going to save all the people who can’t move.”
The second base conversation is one where Tibarn is trying to give both Janaff and Ulki a gift, and they’re both trying to give it to the other to seem selfless. Eventually Reyson comes along and decides to take it (and their job as Tibarn’s aides), effectively Solomon-tricking them into taking it. The whole thing is over a Shriek skill, which I think is a skill for flying laguz similar to the Howl skill, but Tibarn and Naesala are the only flying laguz we’ll be using. It might be worth selling this off, then.
One of the deals in the shop is this Birdfoe skill. This causes all attacks to do bonus damage against bird-type laguz. I can’t think of any bird laguz beyond the upcoming stage, but it’s pretty cheap and makes things slightly easier, so this goes onto Elincia in case Nephenee and Boyd need backup. This stage’s enemies hit hard.
Nephenee capped a bunch of her stats in the last chapter, so it’s time to pump some more bonus experience into her. Basically, I keep putting levels into her until she doesn’t have many stats that can be raised. By the time only her magic and HP are left, I consider using stat-boosting items on her instead of bonus experience, but decide against it and take her all the way up to level 20. That’s enough to cap her skills. As in, all of them. Nephenee has hit every single stat cap she has, and her magic stat of 20 means she regenerates a ton of health automatically every turn.
I also forged her a new weapon. It’s nothing special—just a slightly more powerful Steel Lance with a raised crit chance and a reduced weight.
Geoffrey tells Tibarn and Ranulf that he could use laguz assistance to help find their escaped prisoner and they agree to help, but when Elincia and Lucia try to figure out what’s happening, he’s evasive and leaves. Remember, not long ago he promised never to leave Elincia’s side. Now he’s like, “nothing’s wrong, bye!” I love it. Anyway, the two of them are so curious about what’s happening that they decide to follow.
When Elincia and Lucia finally catch up to the group, they’ve located their former prisoner—none other than Izuka. Bastian explains that he’s the one responsible for the feral ones, and Tibarn is immediately ready to start the killing.
There are two different bird laguz types, two different beast laguz types, and dragon laguz for this stage. The bird laguz aren’t a problem except for their range (so keeping Reyson far away is important), and the smaller yellow beast laguz are every bit as fast as they are harmless, but the bigger grey beast laguz can hit hard, and dragons hit even harder. Nephenee can handle this, but enemies during this stage are more likely to connect than you’d expect. Her and Boyd rush forward toward Izuka, but the swamp slows movement and Boyd is quickly taking so many hits that he has to sit in a spot with a terrain advantage and constantly use healing items.
There’s an early group of enemies who will go after everyone who doesn’t rush ahead, so the strategy there is to wait it out in the bottom-right corner (Elincia can recruit Volke here by talking to him, so she does that immediately) before moving forward to help out Boyd. I kept Tibarn untransformed for a little while to get him some extra experience, but it’s ultimately not worth it because he and Elincia have to move forward to start helping ASAP; Izuka warps in four new feral ones every turn, and this can quickly become overwhelming. It also helps to have them assist with the dragons, who can attack indirectly in this game. I then moved Volke, Reyson, and Haar up, just out of enemy range. This turned out to be a godsend, as Izuka has an ugly habit of warping away whenever your characters get close to him. He eventually ended up warping near Volke and Haar, and since he still had his Rewarp staff equipped and no feral ones summoned, they could head right over and kill him.
Things don’t often go this smoothly. Sometimes that’s not a bad thing, though, as an infinite number of feral ones means an infinite amount of experience. As always, though, that wouldn’t be fun to watch, so I focused on just finishing the stage.
Daniel and Jorge were in charge of the mysterious hooded individual, and they’re having trouble managing him after Izuka is dealt with, so everyone hurries back.
Bastian tries to calm the hooded individual down, referring to him as “Duke Renning.” As a reminder, Duke Renning is Elincia’s uncle who was in line for the throne and presumed killed during Ashnard’s attack (which is how Elincia became queen in the first place). It turns out that rather than being killed, he was given the same drug that creates feral ones, which made him stronger while warping his mind.
Of course, this isn’t a huge stretch. Ashnard valued strength above all else, so Renning was more valuable as an ally. The drug twisted him and he became Bertram, one of the Four Riders of Daein (along with Petrine, the Black Knight, and Bryce). We actually fought him in chapter 26 of Path of Radiance, but rather than dying as we thought, Bastian recognized who he was and saved him in the hopes of finding a way to cure him. Naturally, he kept this a secret from everyone to avoid giving Elincia false hope in case it turned out to be irreversible.
Bastian hired Volke to investigate a cure, and he worked quickly to locate Izuka as the source of the drug. Since he had become Pelleas’ adviser, he wasn’t hard for them to find (side note: this is yet another reason for Bastian to have gone to/stayed in Daein during Act 2). They eventually kidnapped Izuka to learn about the drug, and he offered to make an antidote in return for being set free. They refused, realizing that it being the same drug as the one that warped Rajaion meant that the herons might be able to cure Renning in the same way. That leads up to this chapter, where Izuka escaped from their custody and then we all chased him down and killed him.
Elincia begs Reyson to save her uncle, and he agrees to try. Tibarn asks him about it since the galdr requires more than one heron, and while Reyson admits that this is usually the case, Ashera imposing such a strong sense of order in the world has given him more strength than he’s ever had before, and he’s confident he can do it on his own. This ties into earlier when he was talking about feeling better than ever before thanks to the absence of the world’s normal chaotic energies.
The galdr works and Renning is cured, though he’ll have to sleep it off for awhile. Reyson is similarly exhausted, but pleased that things worked out.
The chapter ends with Ranulf and Tibarn having a conversation about how this was only possible thanks to the world’s current state, which is Ashera’s doing. It’s hard to see her as a villain when there are obvious benefits to her ordered world.