This is the second-to-last chapter in the game, and it’s usually one of the hardest ones thanks to my style of play typically only giving me four decent characters to use. Which is to say that the laguz royals are all huge liabilities during this chapter thanks to their inability to counterattack indirectly; everything in this chapter uses magic, and royals can easily be surrounded by enemies from all angles and quickly worn down. With the added strength of Nephenee and Titania and Soren, however, things become much easier. Especially since the boss has an annoying habit of redirecting attacks directed at him so that they hit adjacent enemies instead. Having extra characters around to help take those guys out really speeds things up.
Everyone finally reaches Ashera’s doors, and Yune explains that she’s not likely to have much compassion since order and chaos are supposed to balance each other out. Ike asks if Yune is similarly out of balance, but she replies that her situation is a little different because throughout her sleep, she was comforted by the herons’ songs and was always near people, unlike Ashera who shut herself away.
Ike tries to open the doors to Ashera, but they won’t budge. Sephiran appears and tells everyone that the doors leading to her have been sealed with a powerful magic. Sanaki and Sephiran catch up a bit, and then Ike urges her to tell him about the Black Knight. When she does, he jumps in to suggest that Sephiran knew about the Black Knight all along because Zelgius wasn’t the type to serve competing interests.
Sephiran confirms that he knew and that he had sent the Black Knight to Daein as a spy of sorts, knowing that Ashnard’s emphasis on strength above all else made it easy to get someone close to him so long as they were powerful enough.
Ike tells Sephiran that the Black Knight tried to take Lehran’s Medallion from his father before he killed him and asks if this was one of Sephiran’s plans, to which he responds that he didn’t order Ike’s father killed. He confirms, however, that he sent the Black Knight to obtain the medallion and give it to Ashnard.
He goes on to explain that waking Yune so that Ashera can pass judgment on the world has always been his goal, and that his “long life” has shown him that people need to be destroyed. He’s the one who tipped Ashnard off to the supposed dark god within the medallion and orchestrated the events of Path of Radiance to this end. There’s a lot of back story behind his reasons, but little of it is revealed in this playthrough. I’m pretty sure you get more of it on a second playthrough, though.
Sephiran can actually be recruited on a second or higher playthrough if you fulfill certain conditions (which is where I suspect a lot of his reasons are explored), but again, this counts as a first playthrough and it’s not possible to avoid killing him here.
The magic blocking the doors turns out to be Sephiran’s, so the only way to get to Ashera is by killing him. Sanaki is hysterical, but Ike is more than willing to oblige.
This is the big reveal: Sephiran is Lehran. As in, the ancient heron who helped the three legendary heroes imprison Yune in his medallion. That definitely explains that bit about his long life (though how he’s lived so long isn’t ever explored), and several other things click into place around this point, as well. The cloaked figure from earlier who convinced Ashera to pass down her judgment? That was him, obviously, and his familiarity with her explains why she accepted his bleak assessment of the world and acted immediately rather than first consulting with Yune.
There’s one base conversation during this chapter, though it doesn’t give us any items or anything. Basically, Nasir and Gareth are usable characters now, and they mention that Yune gave them both her blessing. It’s pretty much a conversation that helps to explain why they can damage enemies (like Sephiran) who can only be hurt by blessed weapons. Oh, and Nasir apologizes for fighting with Dheginsea, because apologizing is basically the only thing he ever does in these games.
Micaiah’s staff proficiency has maxed out, which means she can use the Matrona staff now. Unless I forget to give it to her, which is very much a possibility.
Leanne and Naesala finally reach an A-rank support, so their days of being inseparable and unhelpful during stages are now officially over. That should free both of them up to live up to their potential (him taking down the respawning magical enemies while she refreshes characters who use long-range magical attacks).
I finally used a Satori Sign on Volug and remembered why I hate them. He didn’t have much room for the new skill (Savage, which is what Nailah has had throughout the game), so the game forced me to remove one of the other skills. And I do mean forced—the new skill is locked and can’t be removed, so one of the others has to go instead. Luckily, we have enough Laguz Gems for him to be fully transformed for the next two chapters, so I removed Wildheart (which is the skill that lets him halfshift).
Bringing Simba and Sothe for this one was a bad idea, because they both almost died. They really only survived because of a lucky dodge and finishing the map so quickly. I put Stillness (which I took off of Volke) on Soren so that enemies wouldn’t attack him, but he’s great against magical attacks. In hindsight, that was a giant waste. Using that Satori Sign on Volug was also a giant waste, because the next two bosses have Nihil, and Nihil effectively turns off an opponent’s skills.
The strategy here is simple: move everyone down, taking out as many of those magical wisps as possible in the process (because any of them that survive will gang up on weak characters and those who don’t have a ranged attack). Once they get within reach of Sephiran, everyone starts taking out the adjacent wisps (because he can redirect a deathblow to them). After that, defeating him is actually fairly simple. Really, the trick is having enough strong characters with indirect attacks that you can overwhelm both him and his wisps in one turn. He’ll recover a ton of health between turns, so that’s crucial. Like Dheginsea, he has an area attack that he does at the start of some turns that’s hugely damaging, but it’s less of a problem than it was in the last chapter because Sephiran is much less of a damage sponge. Also, I have no idea why none of the enemies attacked Leanne. That was really surprising.
Yune recognizes that death is all that Sephiran has wanted “since this started,” and while she’s sad about it, she’s also happy that he’s finally getting what he wants.
He asks for Sanaki’s forgiveness (despite the betrayal, he really seems to have a genuine attachment to her) and gives her an item he carried called a Rudol Gem. Having her carry this thing gives her +10 to her defense stat, which will help.
Yune says a final goodbye to Sephiran/Lehran after his death opens the doors to Ashera, telling him that she also lost hope in people once before and that she wishes that she could have shown him “the error of her ways.”
The memories we’ve been seeing have been Sephiran’s, then. This was already obvious given the relationship between Zelgius and the speaker in the first memory scene, but we finally have it confirmed. As for this last memory scene, it technically happens after the between-chapter save (so this would technically belong at the beginning of the next progress log), but it makes more sense to include it with this chapter since it revolves around Sephiran convincing Ashera not to destroy Yune after she’s imprisoned in the medallion, and how that eventually turned into the promise to avoid warring for 1,000 years. We also find out that the original name of the two goddesses before they split was Ashunera, the Dawn Goddess.