Chapter 3: Band of Mercenaries
Chapter 3 leads my party into the mountain range separating Sacae from Bern, which I apparently have to go through to reach Lycia. The bandits Lundgren referred to in the last chapter inhabit these hills, with the Taliver group being dominant. The Taliver are strong enough to raid both Sacae and Bern, which suggests that they're either their own military, or both Sacae and Bern lack an organized military to deal with them. According to the narrative, it's been ten days since the last chapter.
Entering the level map, the party finds the area in ruins. Sain asks why the local marquess doesn't stop the bandits, and Lyn answers that there is none. Further, her village was on the other side of Taliver Mountain, which raises the question of what she was doing ten days away from here. Fleeing the bandits? That doesn't seem likely, given how quick she's been to engage them in the past chapters. Either way, the Taliver wiped out her village in a night attack, leaving fewer than ten survivors. Lyn swears revenge, but is smart enough to realize that she's not ready to take them on yet, so she'll come back for them later. Kent, Sain, and apparently I
all volunteer to join her.
A pair of bandits leading a horse appear from the other side of the map, the horse's rider being a slight girl clasping her hands over her heart
. A bandit demands an apology of her, but she's too tongue tied to say anything coherent. The bandits plan to hand her over to their boss for a reward, but need to dispose of her "flying mule" first. Her what? Why would they want to get rid of a flying mule? That sounds like it would be worth a lot more than some random little girl, and apparently she agrees, because she finally gets her tongue sorted out and shouts at the pair to keep away from her mount
. Hmm. Maybe that link was unwarranted, because she immediate backtracks and tells the men to do whatever they want with her as long as they leave the mule alone
. The bandit comes back that flying mules, apparently called pegasi, are only found in Ilia, and are far more valua... weren't you just talking about getting rid of the mule a few seconds ago? Sigh.
Lyn and co. ride in at this point. Kent spots the bandits, and Lyn identifies the girl as her friend Florina when she spots the mule. Florina immediately starts crying as the two reunite. Kent asks who she is, and Lyn explains that Florina is a pegasus knight cadet from Ilia, which I guess is yet another country in this world. Am I going to have to visit every one of these places before the end of the game? Lyn goes on to say that Florina Does Not Like Men
, which begs the question of why, but just at the moment I'm more confused as to where those bandits that were dragging her off a minute ago went.
Florina says that she followed after Lyn upon learned that she'd left Sacae and come to this village to ask if anyone had seen her, but her mule landed on one of the bandits, which explains the requested apology. I gotta admit, I'd expect an apology in that case, too. Ah, there's the bandit at last. Florina insists that she already apologized profusely, and... starts crying again. Uncomfortable around men, frequently Can Not Spit It Out
, cried twice in the last five minutes, visibly smaller than the other teenage girl on the team? Yeah, I'm upgrading this one to Fragile Flower
Lyn tries to talk peace (what happened to swearing vengeance against the bandits in this area?), but these guys aren't having any of it, and they... run off to the other side of the map after calling in their buddies. Right. They still intend to take Florina and now Lyn hostage for vaguely alluded to purposes
, but I doubt that's actually going to translate into the enemy actually not attacking my female units in this level. Florina is doubtful, but Lyn convinces her to fight before advising me not to take the enemy too lightly. I didn't really need the warning, honestly. The enemy force I'm being presented with here is twice the size of the last, with three different unit types in play. Lyn introduces Florina to me, who is pleased to meet me despite being uncomfortable around men not five minutes ago.
A new mechanic is introduced on this level, too: villages. Villages appear to be this game's equivalent of Outposts in SS, needing to be claimed by my troops before the enemy reaches them to gain a tactical advantage. Since I'm dealing with this new feature, I'm not too terribly surprised when I'm launched into scripted tutorial mode
again, and am forced to have Lyn visit the nearest village. Rather than a map bonus, however, I'm rewarded with a new unit, an Archer named Wil who wants to help defend the town. Archers turn out to be light ranged units like SS's Skirmishers, and the script forces me to attack a nearby Mercenary the other side of a nearby wall, then finish him off with Florina, whose pegasus (which looks more like those failed Cent bio-experiments we saw in Barretine than a mule) lets her fly over any kind of terrain unhindered. She can't seem to fly over enemy units' heads, though....
Once the first bandit's dead, though, I'm back on my own, so I finish my turn by killing a nearby enemy Archer with Kent.
After the enemy finishes impotently advancing on me, a brief conversation between Lyn, Florina, and Wil (who seems to be an legit Nice Guy
, which makes me fear for his survival in this plot, too) explains that flying units are especially vulnerable to bows, but doesn't kick me into scripted mode. Florina is already near the other village at this point, so I went ahead and visited with her to earn 2k gold, and get pointed in the direction of the local Armory, which is also called the Armory in this game, too. Like my Cavaliers, Florina can move again if she hasn't attacked anything.
The enemy forces at this point are made up of two Mercenaries, one Archer, and four Brigands, including the boss, Migal, who is a Ganelon bandit according to his info window. I cleared them out easily using mostly Kent with a little contribution from Wil - most of the other units got left too far away from the main body of the enemy troops to get in on the action before Kent wiped them out, though I did discover a little trick while trying to figure out how to keep Kent using the right weapon to take advantage of the weapons triad against enemies using both swords and axes. Since which weapon a unit uses when attacked is determined by which weapon in closest to the top of their inventory, I can just have another unit use the Trade function to rearrange the first character's inventory to put the weapon I want them to use first.
The Armory offers Iron Swords and Iron Lances, the same gear my units are currently using, cheaply enough that I could buy a few of each, but I decided to settle for one of each and to save the rest of my money for further down the road.
I let Lyn get the boss kill, which initiated a dialogue between the two in which she asks if he's a Taliver bandit. The bandit is offended, apparently holding the Taliver in low regard as total bastards with no restraint. Huh. Not Mook Chivalry
, but it is chivalry from a mook. Or at least and Elite Mook
. I have a little trouble really considering these guys bosses. Either way, the bandit claims that his group Ganelon, have honor, at least enough not to attack women (he says, after initiating combat with an eighteen year old girl. Seriously, was this guy dropped on his head as a child?) when they could sell them instead.
Yeah... that's not really honor, y'know? That's, like, the complete opposite. Even so, Lyn offers to let the bandit flee with his life since he's not one of the pack that killed her people, which makes me lose a bit of respect for her. Just because he's not the one who hurt you doesn't mean he's not a total bastard who could kill someone else's entire village tomorrow if you let him go today. Then again, this may just be a ruse to infuriate the bandit into an idiot-rage, making him easier to kill, in which case it seems to have worked. Either way, he's not backing down. Lyn scores the kill easily, gaining a level and some nice stat-ups in the process. The bandit swears his crew will avenge him as he dies.
After the fight, Lyn asks Florina why she followed her into the Bern. Florina brings up the Knighting Ceremony of Ilia's pegasus knights, which -wait for it- is to join a mercenary band to gain real-world experience. You ready? Okay, 3... 2... 1.
No wonder the Old War happened if people back then actually thought this was a good idea! Who in their right mind would send their raw recruits off to have spend their formative years of training among those kinds of undisciplined money-grubbing pricks?
Anyway, it's time for Florina to join a mercenary band and she wanted to see Lyn before setting out, so she followed her into the mountains after learning she'd left Sacae. Lyn, not with good reason, is more worried about Florina than herself, but not for the same reason as me. Lyn points out that most mercenaries are men. Bands of men. Big, crude, machismo-soaked men. And Florina is a Fragile Flower
who can't string three words together, much less fight, in men's presence. Florina, about to cry again, is already aware of this problem, but she's determined to go through with it... until now. Her helplessness before Lyn's arrival has her questioning her fitness for duty, and I have to agree with her.
Enter... Oh, Crap
. Enter Sain, the village idiot and wannabe ladies' man , who immediately starts flirting with the Fragile Flower
who Does Not Like Men
. Sain suggests that the present company become a mercenary band of their own, ignoring the fact that he and Kent are both serving tours in the Caelin military, which would make them deserters. Kent tells him to stfu, but Lyn lets her desire to protect her friend override her logic circuits and agrees. Florina's happy, Sain's an idiot, Kent gives in, and Wil's up for the ride. A fully illustrated panel shows Florina hiding behind Lyn, whose shoulder she barely surpasses, while Sain flirts, Wil laughs, and Kent Facepalms
You have my deepest, most sincerely heart-felt sympathies, Kent.