This might seem like a bit of a fluff chapter at first, but there are a small handful of interesting interactions between characters here. This is also the first of many chapters where Zihark and Volug are going to spend their time together. I don’t know if they have to be near each other to build up their support bond, but I try to keep them fairly close to be on the safe side, and that means that other units need to pull their weight when reinforcements show up too far away for either of them to reach.
The plot summary is basically “Prince Pelleas is actually a surprisingly decent guy, so Micaiah (and by extension, the Dawn Brigade) has thrown in her lot with him.”
In the “Free State of Marado,” which is part of Daein, a new character named Fiona who rules the area witnesses Jarod’s forces murder an individual for simply standing around and talking to others. She tries to bring it up with him, but he threatens her not to endanger Marado’s people with accusations. We also find out that Marado didn’t come to Ashnard’s aid during the events of Path of Radiance, which is likely why Begnion has a shaky alliance with them here. Once she leaves, Jarod tells his people to keep an eye on her because he doesn’t trust her allegiances.
Izuke explains that he’s had his operatives spreading rumors about the Silver-Haired Maiden in order to capture the people’s attention and fan the flames of rebellion.
Izuka has also decided that the army’s next target should be Talrega (that’s actually the place where we killed Jill’s dad), but Micaiah tells him that they’d have trouble fighting there because they’d arrive when the rains are causing floods and landslides. She proposes attacking a place called Terin instead, and while Izuka’s ego makes it impossible for him to accept that he was wrong, he twists things around in his mind to give himself credit for putting Micaiah in a leadership position.
Once units already supporting have spent enough time together, an arrow appears on the support screen that indicates that their support level can be raised for bigger bonuses. Micaiah and Sothe start out with an automatic A-rank support (and if you keep it by not having them support anyone else, they get married at the end of the game), but other characters have to slowly build their supports up.
Zihark capped his strength and speed in Path of Radiance, so they’re two points higher than they’d be otherwise. It’s kind of funny that all that work results in such a minor gain, but anything more would unbalance the game and be cheap. One last thing: weapon proficiency also receives a bonus here, so while a wiki I just checked suggests that a non-transferred Zihark starts with an A-rank in swords, ours here has his sword proficiency at the highest possible rank of SS. That means that he could use the Vague Katti now despite it showing up in Act 4 (and that’s way off).
The first base conversation is with some villagers who have been taken in by Izuka’s propaganda and offer the group 1,000 gold that their village saved up for them. Micaiah and Sothe argue like an old married couple about Sothe accepting it.
The second base conversation has a lot going on. Kurthnaga talks to Pelleas’ mom Almedha and the two clearly know one another, with Kurthnaga trying unsuccessfully to convince her to leave out of concern that isn’t elaborated on. He gives her something called a “sending stone” when he realizes that she won’t leave, something she recognizes as incredibly valuable (for reasons unknown to us). Micaiah catches Kurthnaga alone shortly afterward and he tells her that he hates violence and doesn’t think that she should fight. He also tells her that he’s returning to his home country—no one knows that he means Goldoa because he’s remained a mystery to the group—and gives her a Renewal skill as a parting gift.
Renewal restores 10% of a character’s total HP every turn, so units with high amounts of health are perfect for it. Volug is the ideal candidate, having a lot of HP and defense but not yet being fast enough to dodge a significant number of incoming attacks. Having 49 HP, he’ll recover 4 HP every turn and that’ll be bumped up to 5 if he ever crosses 50 HP. It’s not a lot, but it adds up over several turns.
At Terin (translated as Turin for this scene in what I can only assume is a translation error), Begnion’s soldiers have set up a trap for the Daein Liberation Army. Fiona asks if her forces are needed, but she’s told that the ambushing forces are enough.
I didn’t remember that this was a two-part stage, so I wound up ending the recording before the second part was done. That was probably for the best, though, as something happened during the second part that I didn’t like and I had the freedom to restart it and try again. I’ll talk about that later, but for now, this stage is incredibly straightforward. The only risk is a number of reinforcements, with pegasus knights showing up at various points from all directions. They go down pretty easily, but it’s important to avoid splitting everyone up too much. Like I mentioned earlier, when Zihark and Volug are too far to assist, other units need to be able to pull their weight and help out. And as much as it wounds me to say, Jill helped out here.
You can see at 23:27 Micaiah goes to attack a healer and it counterattacks. I mentioned in another progress log that healers and untransformed laguz aren’t entirely helpless anymore, but this is the first time you can see a healer do damage.
There’s a save between these two sections, and that’s a good thing because this second part is actually pretty tricky. Early in the stage, the boss takes a group of innocent civilians hostage to compel everyone to drop their weapons, and when they do, he decides to kill them anyway. That’s when Fiona’s group rushes in to rescue the civilians (so they’re suffering speed and skill penalties just like when allies rescue each other) and become green allied units. These are incredibly difficult to keep alive, and it was only on my second attempt that I managed to keep most of the allies and all of the civilians from being killed by enemies. At least one or two strong units need to immediately head right and up to clear out the enemies who will otherwise block the way for the green units to retreat down to the starting point.
The trouble with that is that there are also two ballistae here. One is at the very start of the stage, and the other is to the upper-left where the boss is. That’s not all, either, because there are numerous mounted units who rush at your group from the left. I had my group focus on the first ballista and sent Tauroneo (armed with the javelin he joins with) to the left to take out most of the mounted units. It’s wasted experience since they only give him 1 experience point, sure, but I wanted to finish this second part without any civilians dying and this was the best way to do that. He can also cause the second ballista to use up all of its shots, which makes things slightly safer for everyone else. The stage ends when the boss is defeated, so leaving some enemies intact meant leaving some experience on the table, but Micaiah finishing him off got her another level-up and that’s more important than leveling up characters who will eventually become bench-warmers.
Fiona joins up if she survives the chapter, explaining that she’s the daughter of one of the former Four Riders of Daein named Lanvega (this was back when Tauroneo and Ike’s dad were also Riders and the group was honorable). He resigned from his post when Ashnard became king, aware of rumors that he had killed his father to usurp him, and Fiona refused to aid Ashnard in his war for that same reason.
Jarod is talking with one of Begnion’s senators named Numida who turns out to be the one running the show, and he brings up the fact that there have been multiple riots. While they were quickly quelled, they nevertheless run the risk of alerting Begnion to what’s happening under Numida and Jarod’s leadership.
They seem particularly afraid of Sephiran, and so there’s only one course of action left to them: destroy the Daein Liberation Army, and with it Daein’s supposed savior. Once they do so, the people’s hopes will be shattered and they’ll fall into line.