Chapter 6's intro gives us some more worldbuilding. The nation of Lycia is a federation
of territories, each ruled by a marquess. Lyn's group has passed through the first of these in their path, Araphen, and is about to encounter Lundgren's troops for the first time.
Entering the map, Sain announces that they are in the city of Araphen (even though the opening narrative just said we'd already passed through it), which is the second largest city in Lycia after Ostia, which I recall Serra naming in the last chapter as her destination before deciding to sink her claws into Lyn.
Kent went ahead of the group to visit the castle, and returns with news that the local marquess has agreed to resupply them, as Araphen and Caelin have had good relations with each other for a long time. Kent hopes for an escort of Araphenian (Araphenese? Araphens?) soldiers to ease the remainder of their journey, which makes me anxious to see the upcoming chapters. If The game not only thinks that my current troops are insufficient to take on the enemy in the upcoming battles, but thinks that I need more troops, I should actually be in for some challenge.
Kent apologizes for the difficulty of the trip so far, but Lyn dismisses his concerns and compliments his abilities. An outburst from Sain prompts her to add him as an afterthought.
The group sets off for the castle, but is suddenly swarmed by townsfolk. Someone cries out that the castle is burning (weren't those things usually made out of stone?), and the civvies flee as the enemy appears on-screen. Lyn is immediately accosted by a Mercenary, but a rider appears from the far side of the screen and eliminates him with a bow, prompting a still image of Lyn looking back over her shoulder at a man on horseback with the dead Mercenary at her feet. Very nice, but wasn't the Mercenary between Lyn and the rider?
Lyn and Kent try to thank the rider, but he starts to back away. When pressed, he admits to interfering because he was a Sacaean being attacked. Judging by his clothes, he's Sacaean himself. The rider is surprised to learn Lyn is a Lorca, having been under the impression that none had survived the bandit attack.
The rider warns Lyn to flee now, and says that he's the captain of the castle guard, which raises the question of what he was doing leaving the castle to come down here if he needed so desperately to rescue the marquess. Lyn volunteers to help, given that the enemy is here because of her. The rider introduces himself as Rath of the Kutolah tribe, and he and Lyn exchange some Sacaean blessings. Meanwhile, a cloaked unit invades a nearby house and offers the resident woman some gold to remain in her home to observe the fighting. She accepts and heads into the basement while he starts sizing up the two sides to see which has more to offer him.
Rath reveals the existence of a Secret Underground Passage
leading directly to the throne room of the castle, which is glaringly stupid for obvious reasons, even moreso because it's opened from the barracks outside the castle. Which, of course, has been captured by the enemy, who have locked us out. I need keys or a Thief to open the doors. Hmm. Where have I seen a shady figure like that recently?
Lyn wants to
visit the house that cloaked man went into before. The man inside, Matthew, immediately offers his services, which Lyn insists she doesn't need despite just going over our group's lack of ways to open the doors a moment ago. Matthew points this out (which both Lyn and myself want to know how he knew about), and agrees to hire him. Matthew opens the nearest door and Rath throws the switch by standing on the right space, and then the scripting is over. There aren't many enemies visible yet, but there are several more hidden areas.
On my turn again it seems the scripting isn't over, after all, as Matthew wants to break into a conveniently located treasure chest. My character is critical of Matthew's greed, but goes along with it. The chest yields an Angelic Robe, which Matthew explains to be a magic item that increases the max health of any unit that uses it.
Interesting. Matthew's move put him within striking distance of an enemy unit, a Soldier, wielding a spear. Matthew is a sword-user, and I had no units within range to block the Soldier's path, so I moved Serra over to heal him on my next turn after he gets attacked, and was offered the same "Talk" command I got when Lyn recruited Dorcas a few chapters back. In this case, however, the conversation was purely a plot teaser. Serra stood around complimenting herself on her looks, but after she left, Matthew revealed that he not only knew Serra, but had reservations about letting her find the secret passage. So, Serra has a past association with a thief who is anxious to keep secrets from her. This seems promising for later.
Moving Serra turned out to be unnecessary, though, as the Soldier didn't move from his position. The room behind him yields another chest containing a sword called an Armorslayer, which Matthew explains to be designed for taking on heavily armored enemies, then goes off on the importance of giving such weapons to the units that would get the most benefit from them.
The next door is on the outside of the building I'm currently in, which is annoying as I have to spend several turns just getting Matthew over there. I went ahead and had Lyn take and use the Angelic Robe, since her health is a bit on the low side for a direct combatant. The last switch opens the door to a boss of a new class, Knight. This one is named Bool. This is clearly why they gave me the Armorslayer in that chest, which I did pass to Lyn already, but Erk's magic works just fine against this guy, who can't even counter attack due to lack of a ranged weapon and the disinclination of bosses in this game to move from the spots they start out on.
These soldiers are no more of a challenge than the bandits were, and their numbers were pitiful. This game's turning out to be disappointingly easy. What were IQs like a thousand years ago, seriously?
With the third switch hit, Rath leads the castle's troops to drive out the rest of the enemy and rescue the marquess, to whom Rath introduces Lyn. The marquess dismisses Rath to speak with Lyn alone, and Lyn explains Lundgren's involvement in the attack. The marquess claims that Lyn is responsible for the damage to his castle, and withdraws the support he offered at the beginning of the chapter (so much for the close friendship between their provinces). Kent is appalled that the marquess would break his word to Kent, but the marquess is just as angry that Kent didn't tell him that Lyn was "tainted with the blood of Sacae." Ooooh yeah, that's the good old stuff
Lyn is understandably angered. Sain objects, but Kent holds him back and again petitions the marquess for aid. The marquess suggests that the current Marquess Caelin may not even live to see the girl, in which case his best interest is in coddling up to Lundgren. Sain is still angry, Kent still hopes for aid, but Lyn declares that they're leaving. She is proud of being Sacaean, and would refuse the aid of this racist ass even if he were still offering it.
Outside, Sain applauds Lyn's performance while Kent apologizes for being too focused on getting help that he ignored her feelings. Lyn dismisses his apology and thanks him for his dedication to her safety.
Back in the castle, the marquess is raging to himself about Lyn's stubbornness, even saying he would have aided her if she had cried before referring to her entire race as "savages." Ah, privileged Jerkassery
at its finest! Unfortunately for him, he's currently pacing back and forth in the Castle Hall of Overheard Insults
, and who should be standing behind the next pillar but his Sacaean captain of the guard, Rath?
The marquess tries to play his racism off as nothing for Rath to concern himself over
. Rath isn't buying it and Calls the Older Man Out
on it. The marquess takes offense at Rath's attitude. After all, he pays Rath well and treats him "better than [his] kind deserves." Rath tells him to shove it
Outside of Araphen, Lyn is concerned about the marquess's report of her grandfather's failing health. Kent says things will be getting more difficult now that they're getting closer to Caelin, and I certainly hope so, because I haven't seen anything resembling a challenge since Chapter 4. He, Sain, and my non-character repledge our aid to Lyn, for which she thanks us. Shortly after, Rath catches up to us and asks to join our group. He also brings with him 5000 gold, which is a welcome recruitment fee. Lyn doesn't want to accept it, but Rath insists that he can't take the offer back once made.
Here's to a tougher chapter in the near future.