Back in chapter 24 of my Path of Radiance playthrough, I finally had Ike and Soren reach an “A” level support and mentioned that the things brought up over the course of the conversation would be a good head start on some of the plot lines at play in Radiant Dawn. This is where those concepts (like spirits leaving physical marks on individuals who make deals with them for power) begin to come into play.
Begnion has the advantage in numbers, including numerous mercenaries, so Daein has no option but to free former soldiers from labor camps to bolster their numbers.
Pelleas isn’t at the war council this time, and Izuka offers a halfhearted explanation for why that is. He’s clearly consolidating his own power and manipulating Pelleas, which we’ll see more of soon, but there’s nothing that can be done about it now.
Izuka proposes attacking one of the largest labor camps using poison, but Micaiah and Sothe both object to this, with her calling the plan “vile” and him elaborating that it’d kill innocents as well, which would reflect poorly on the prince. Izuka storms out in a rage, leaving Tauroneo, Micaiah, and Sothe to come up with their own plan.
IT BEGINS IT BEGINS IT BEGINS IT BEGINS IT BEGINS IT BEGINS IT BEGINS
For some perspective, Volug and Zihark’s C-level support now grants them the same avoid bonus that Micaiah and Sothe’s A-level support gives them.
There’s a base conversation here between Micaiah and Pelleas where he mentions that he noticed that she has a similar mark as he does, recognizing her as a Spirit Charmer (though here it seems to be called having “the Spirit’s Protection”). He explains that he entered into a pact with a spirit to obtain greater magical power, but when she explains that she didn’t enter any such pact, he elaborates that sometimes spirits are the ones to make the pact with newborn children who have an “exceptional talent for magic.” Micaiah also confronts him about not coming to the war council, and he tells her that he needs Izuka’s permission to attend. Since Izuka is the one who found him and set all of this up, he feels indebted to him to such a degree that he tries to do what Izuka tells him. Anyway, the conversation ends with Pelleas giving Micaiah a Brave Sword out of nowhere. We’ll be saving that for later.
Fiona comes with the Imbue skill, which restores HP equal to her magic stat every turn. While I could take this off of her and assign it to someone else, characters sometimes come with skills that don’t cost anything for them to use. For example, her skill capacity is 15 and Imbue costs 15, but she’s only using 10 of her 15 allowed points. If Imbue were removed from her, however, she wouldn’t be able to use it for free anymore, and she has a locked skill that eats up 10 points at all times. Basically, removing Imbue would mean that it couldn’t immediately be put back on her.
Not until she class changed and received more room, at least, but she won’t be leveling up much if at all. The Dawn Brigade is noticeably weaker than the group it’ll come into conflict with throughout Act 3, though, so all characters need to be at their best. That means that as tempting as it is to remove Imbue right now, it’s probably best to leave her with it for now in case she needs to survive a few attacks later on.
The boss in the second stage of the last chapter dropped a Paragon skill, which doubles experience, and this goes onto Micaiah. Act 1 is easier if she hits level 20 and stops receiving experience early on because there’s a chapter coming up where she’ll be one of only two usable characters, and it’ll help if she can pull her weight. Then there’s the final chapter in Act 1, which will go smoother if Volug and Zihark can rush through it and not have to worry about saving experience for her.
The plan that the Izuka-less war council came up with turns out to be Tauroneo and the main army attacking from the front as a distraction so that Micaiah’s small group can sneak in, kill everyone, and break all of the captive soldiers out.
Tormod, Maurim, and new character Vika show up early in the stage at the bottom-right. There are a whole bunch of conversations you can have between characters, but having Sothe talk to Tormod is the only necessary one, as that’s where you gain control over all three of them. And that’s important, because there are fire mages and wind mages who are a risk to Maurim and Vika, respectively. Other than that, this stage is fairly straightforward, if a bit slow (mostly because I was trying to get Micaiah as much experience as possible). There are enemies at the top-left who are perfect for Volug and Zihark, and everyone else slowly works their way up the middle while breaking open cells to let prisoners out. I don’t know if you get bonus experience for that, but I try to let all of them escape before finishing the chapter.
There are a bunch of reinforcements throughout the stage, most notably at the starting point (Volug and Zihark move down to finish those off), around where Tormod shows up (if you have the high ground, you can lure them to the ledge and use indirect attacks to kill them without a problem), and around the boss (Sothe did a lot of the heavy lifting here). Anyway, Micaiah hit level 20 after beating the boss, which means that she can now be kept out of harm’s way while someone else levels up with the Paragon skill. Probably Zihark or Sothe, depending on the stage.
Sothe brings up that they’ve managed to hide Volug by pretending that he’s a pet dog, but that they can’t keep up the charade if many more laguz join up. Izuka, on the other hand, wants more laguz joining because they’re powerful (and in his eyes, expendable) and mentions that anyone who has a problem with it can be punished to avoid it becoming an issue. Sothe mentions that this seems like the kind of thing that should be Pelleas’ decision, but Izuka shoots back that his decisions are the prince’s, and Pelleas goes along with it, still feeling that he owes Izuka.
Tormod showing up isn’t a coincidence, as it turns out that Sothe tasked him with getting into contact with Begnion’s apostle, Sanaki, to let her know what’s happening to Daein under Begnion’s rule. He tells Micaiah and Sothe that she had already started investigating and narrowed down the culprits to a faction of Begnion senators, but that she can’t act without proof of their deeds. She intends to get to the bottom of things, however, and she’s definitely more on our side than theirs.
Micaiah casually brings up the fact that she’s taken care of Sothe for a long time, and Maurim cautions her that saying such things makes it more obvious that she’s older than she looks. The Branded age slower than most people, which is actually established in Path of Radiance if you have Soren and Stefan reach an A-rank support. Maurim mentions that he can tell that she’s Branded (rather than having made a pact with spirits as Pelleas assumed) and tells her that many among the laguz hate the Branded, calling them “parentless” and looking down on them. Needless to say, she’s a bit freaked out that someone figured out her secret.