Chapter 7: Siblings Abroad
Not much of interest on the opening map. The group leaves Araphen, passes Tuscana, and enters Khathelet before taking us to the level map.
The map opens with a boy pleading for help at a local inn. No one's interested, though. One man in particular tells the kid to get lost. The kid is confused because the man was helpful the day before, but now he's assuming the boy has done something wrong if he's being pursued by a gang of men. I guess Khathelet is big on vigilante justice
? The boy leaves, but a Hermaphrodite
watches him go with concern. Huh, I always thought intersex characters didn't make it into mainstream media until the post-war period? Guess I gotta give the game props for being so progressive, at least.
The team filters onto the northwest corner of the map, and Lyndis promptly asks Kent where they are. Kent names Khathelet, and Sain adds that we're about ten days north of Caelin at this point. Lyn is anxious to keep going, but the boy from the inn approaches her, asking if we're mercenaries. Kent warns Lyn not to let her guard down, which seems a little beyond Properly Paranoid
. The boy insists that he doesn't have time to look elsewhere for help, his sister has been kidnapped
. Sain... is Sain about it, and wants to help, purely out of the goodness of his heart, I'm sure
. Kent says they don't have time. Lyn's Mama Bear
instincts kick in a little here, though, and she agrees to help the boy.
A pair of enemies appear to threaten the boy. One drops the name Nergal, which may have been one of the countries I couldn't make out on the continental map. The thug isn't allowed to kill the boy, but can hurt him non-lethally, and closes in. Lyn intervenes, and the thug makes a few impotent threats.
This chapter introduces another new mechanic, the preparation screen. From here on, I'm allowed to choose my units, their starting positions, and trade items among them before the battle. I'm only allowed a limited number of units in the engagement, which is consistent with Searing Seal, though this game doesn't even try to justify the nonsensical restriction, which I don't really mind. SS's half-assed "limited supplies" explanation just lampshaded how unrealistic the restriction is.
The limit on this map is 8 characters, meaning I have to leave two behind. I chose to leave out Florina, who is too weak to be really useful, and Wil, who is a bit redundant with Erk (who can counterattack at close range and bypasses normal defenses) and Rath (who is stronger, mounted, and has a longer movement range) around. My options for rearranging my troops are pretty limited, I can only swap units between the different spaces the game has already placed them on, and I can't move Lyn at all. I can save my preparation settings to the file, which I imagine will be convenient if this game ever gets hard enough that I need to restart a level.
Starting the level, Lyn is concerned about facing a new unit type, a Shaman, which wields dark magic
. Her explanation is interrupted by the appearance of the intersex from earlier, who Lyn identifies as a clergyperson of Elimine by hir robes. S/he specifies hirself as a Monk named Lucius, and wants to help the child s/he saw in the inn before, especially after the innkeeper's mistreatment. The boy claims that he's used to it
. This gratuitously convenient, as a Monk's light magic beats dark magic
in the magic version of the weapons triangle. It's not specified here, but I'm assuming this means dark magic beats Erk's fireballs, which beat light magic.
Lucius attacks the shaman
, hurting him badly but not killing him. The boy pipes up here, saying he can help. Lyn refers to him as Nils, which makes me do a double take. Did I miss his name earlier, or is Lyn just psychic
? Nils can't fight, but he claims to be a Bard.
Lyn remains dubious of his usefulness
The tutorial text is more helpful, explaining that Nils can refresh one of my spent units, allowing them to move and act twice during one turn. Nice in theory, but I'm not really seeing this as being good enough to justify benching an actual fighter to bring him along, since he can't fight at all himself.
Anyway, the script has me use him on Lucius, and then I'm back on my own. My enemies are more varied than they've been in the past, with a mix of Brigands, Mercenaries, several Shaman, and a lone Mage and Archer. The boss for this level is a Shaman named Heintz, who is named as a member of an organization called "Black Fang" in his info panel. Bit cliche, really. A man in the nearby village gives me an item called Pure Water which temporarily increases the user's resistance to magic attacks, and tips me off that magic users and Pegasus Knights like Florina have high resistances. Facing Erk off against the enemy Shaman also confirms that his magic type ("Anima," according to his skill window) is at a disadvantage against Dark, but the enemy Shamans' resistances are weak enough that he doesn't have much trouble taking them on.
This map was a bit trickier (though still quite easy) thanks to more numerous enemies, more varied classes, and odd terrain features, and I hope this is a real sign of things to come.
Defeating Heintz ends the level, but upon entering the castle Nils' sister Ninian is nowhere to be found. Kent reports that a villager saw a group fleeing south, the obvious conclusion being that they have her. Lyn orders the troop to pursue, but Nils dreads that they'll be too late when I'm treated to a still image of a man carrying an unconscious woman toward Lyn and Nils. Ninian is otherwise unhurt, and the man introduces himself as Eliwood, the son of the marquess of Pherae. He claims to have rescued her from a gang of thugs, and the way this game is going so far I give it a 33% chance that he's telling the truth rather than working with these Black Fang guys.
Lyn introduces herself as Marquess Caelin's granddaughter and the screen fades out for her retelling of the story up til now. Eliwood believes her instantly, which makes me bump his chances of not being with the Black Fang down to 25%. He claims that he saw Lyn as merely a plainswoman (it's still not technically Fantastic Racism
since they're both humans), but now he recognizes her grandfather's eyes, and claims that the marquess, Lord Hausen, is a close friend of his father. He also panders to her, saying he knows Sacaeans are too proud to lie. Lyn accepts this at face value, but I'm just more suspicious. Lyn admits she didn't expect a Lycian noble to be so polite (not after Araphen, anyway), but declines Eliwood's offer of further aid. Not to let her go so easily, he tells her that he'll be in the area for a while yet, and asks that she look for him if she needs anything.
Elsewhere, Ninian finally comes to. Lyn introduces herself, and Ninian does the same. She and Nils are traveling performers, she being a dancer to counterpart Nils' music.
Enter Sain, whose mind seems to have heard the word "exotic" somewhere in that sentence. Lyn points out that Ninian's clothes aren't fit for dancing, which I'm inclined to agree with. The ankle-length dress she was wearing in that full image doesn't look very conducive to performance. Nils explains that Ninian's dances are divinely inspired, which is why her dress is closer to a priest's than a performer's, but neither is inclined to go into any detail of why this is any different. Instead, they point out that Ninian has twisted her ankle and can't perform.
Lyn is concerned for Ninian's ability to travel, so Nils asks if they can travel with our group. Kent's early warning is starting to seem a bit more Properly Paranoid
now, after all. Lyn refuses, given that we tend to be attacked every few days, which is hardly conducive to a healing leg. The siblings persist, offering their... "special talents" in Lyn's service. Maybe Sain wasn't so far out of line, after all
. But no, it turns out the pair are Seers
, or at least Sensers, who can detect incoming danger.
Lyn asks Kent his opinion. Kent, trying to make up for his insensitivity in Araphen, is inclined to let them come along to keep Lyn from worrying about them. Sain, she thinks twice of asking ("Oh, never mind. I know what your answer is."), which I got a few laughs out of. Her knights, er, knight, consulted, Lyn agrees to let the pair come along.
Ninian suddenly notices that she's lost a ring
called Nini's Grace, which was a keepsake
from their dead mother
, and blessed by the spirits of Ninis
(okay, enough laughing, guys
), which I am sorely tempted to link as a Lampshade Hanging
on the vagueness of this whole spirits concept that's cropped up now a few times since Chapter 2, and on the worldbuilding in this game in general. Anyway, Nils says the ring is completely unique, and he and Ninian lament its loss in an obvious pity play against Lyn, who buys it hook, line, and sinker. If this keeps up
, I fear for Lyn's future
Lyn asks my non-character whether we should go after the ring or continue on our original journey, and for once But Thou Must!
is subverted here, as it seems I really do get to choose, because this qualifies as an optional Sidequest
. The tutorial warns that sidequests are especially difficult, as if I needed more reason to go for it than a extra level's worth of exp.
Lyn is thrilled that I decided to go after the ring and orders Kent and Sain to arrange the pursuit of the group fleeing south, which raises the question of how much more time could this sidequest really detract from our main goal if we were traveling south for the next ten days, anyway?
To the sidequest!