This is another chapter where we meet up with some old Path of Radiance characters, including Zihark (finally). Sadly, he and the other two characters aren’t actually playable here, but are instead green allied units. I’ve read that one of the minor mechanic changes between Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn is that allied unit kills provide bonus experience, though, so there’s absolutely nothing wrong with letting them wreck waves of enemies so long as they avoid dying in the process.
More narration! Did I ever bother mentioning that the technical term for non-laguz is “beorc”? I feel like it’s one of those things that I left for people to figure out from one or two Path of Radiance screenshots, but never actually addressed.
Last time we ventured out into the desert, we collected a shiny new heron, a laguz queen from a society no one knew existed, and her seemingly mute helper. With that kind of luck, we have to go see if we can catch us a Daein prince.
One of the base conversations involves getting 10,000 gold from selling off some stuff found in the ruins. Stuff from that room filled with treasure that the laguz bandits were in, probably. None of our actual items were sold, of course, but rather, miscellaneous treasures implied to been taken after stumbling across Rafiel.
Volug has a unique ability to “halfshift,” which allows him to remain shifted at all times, but reduces his transformed stats somewhat as a result. Early in the game, he’ll be transformed all the time without any need for player input. Later on, however, it’ll become necessary to manually shift in and out of his transformed form every two turns or so to refill his transformation gauge, as getting attacked will lower it like it would a normal laguz. If that’s kind of confusing, don’t worry about it. I’ll be doing it enough times over the course of the game that it’ll make perfect sense later.
One of Aimee’s bargains is Spirit Dust, which permanently increases a character’s magic (by 2, I think). It’s incredibly expensive to buy, but there are skills later on that heal a character by however high their magic stat is every turn, so it could end up being a solid investment for the future. Alternatively, it could help Micaiah do more damage if she gets a bunch of terrible level-ups and starts lagging behind everyone. Like Ike in the last game, she’ll class change at predefined points rather than it being level-specific, so being able to finish off enemies for experience is fairly important.
Since the game is already throwing a bunch of indirect attackers at everyone, I figure it’s a good investment to buy Sothe a dagger that can attack/counterattack indirectly. Not only that, but it’s weaker than a normal dagger. That means that it’s just about perfect for weakening enemies for much less combat-capable units to finish off.
I seem to remember Zihark being the one who was always at risk of dying in this stage, but whatever the case, all of his capped stats in Path of Radiance ensure that he’s not in any serious danger. The other two characters here are Tauroneo and Jill, and Jill’s the one most at risk here. And even she can surprisingly hold her own.
The potential conversations between Sothe/Ilyana and Zihark/Tauroneo/Jill here might lead you to believe that they need to be spoken to in order to recruit them, but these are actually meaningless “oh hey I know you” bits of dialogue that don’t make them controllable. They’ll join after the chapter ends and be allied throughout the stage either way, so there’s no point in rushing over to initiate a conversation.
The boss of this stage has an item that can be stolen. It creates a barrier when used. That could be useful, but getting it is a giant hassle and I seem to remember there being more of them later on. Another enemy has a Master Seal that can be stolen, though, and this I definitely want after missing out on a hidden one in the last stage.
This is the first stage where elevation is a major factor; there’s a raised bit in the center of the stage that’s perfect for blocking off enemies while attacking indirectly (only indirect attacks can hit when there’s an elevation difference). This really helps to keep the allied units alive. The strategy for this stage, then, is to move Sothe (armed with his indirect-attack dagger and at least one vulnerary/herb) down and to the right while everyone else moves up to defeat the enemies there. Personally, I moved Volug up onto the platform immediately to clear the way, but he could also be used to help clean up the initial group of enemies. Once the way is clear, units can split up, with one group moving up to the top-left of the screen and the other group right onto the platform to eventually block enemies from climbing up. There are reinforcements who come in from the corners at various points, so moving in small groups that remain close enough to help finish an enemy off in case of an unlucky miss is helpful. Slow and steady, basically. Also, the goal is defend a certain number of turns, so sending Sothe to slaughter a ton of people isn’t wasted experience since it’s unlikely that anyone would manage to engage those enemies otherwise.
Tauroneo introduces the Dawn Brigade to Izuka, advisor to Prince Pelleas of Daein. Remember Izuka? He showed up toward the end of Path of Radiance and it turned out that he created the elixir that warped laguz into feral ones. He also experimented on them brutally on behalf of Ashnard. Of course, he wasn’t the boss of that stage, instead running away as soon as Leanne was rescued. That means that Naesala was the only one who ever saw him and no one here is aware of his history. Micaiah’s goals are aligned with his at the moment, however, and despite coming across as neurotic and overbearing, he takes an interest in Micaiah upon realizing that she’s the Silver-Haired Maiden who Daein citizens see as their savior.
Pelleas explains that he didn’t know that he was Daein’s prince and lived as a commoner until Izuka found him. He’s joined by Almedha, his mother, who is incredibly attached to him—almost to the point where it could be considered a form of madness—after having being parted for so long.
Izuka appoints Micaiah “Vice-General of the Daein Liberation Army,” but she declines, citing her lack of battle tactics. Sothe brings up the fact that it’s an obvious attempt to make her a mere figurehead for people to rally behind, but when Pelleas interjects and explains that Daein needs both him and her to act, she recognizes that he truly cares for the country like she does and decides to accept the position.
Sothe is surprised and a little angry, but she explains that he’s not the only one who changed in their time apart and that she wants to “protect Daein more than anything,” even if coming out of hiding to be the face of the Daein Liberation Army is a risk. Sothe asks if she hears the voice that warns her of impending danger, and she reassures him by telling him that most of her visions are filled with hope.