Sages and Deserts. Not a nice combination.
For me anyway, since I doubt I'll be having much leeway as I cross into the desert and face that Vaha dude.
After Sigurd and Levin strike down Duke Langbert, I have the party gather near the gate to the desert and prepare for the hot march to Grandbell through Yied.
After ending the turn, I see Cuan, Ethlin and some Lenster knights ride forth into the desert. Cuan tells his men that they will head north through the desert, to meet us as we head south. Ethlin apologizes for putting Cuan through all this, and thanks him for coming to help her brother, even though his father is sick. She also has apprehensions about making enemies with Grandbell, and Cuan assures her that, though Lenster is a small country, it's a country of warriors, and everyone in his family is descended from the crusader Noba. His father has given them his blessings, saying that he wants them to give this all they've got. He also mentions the Gae Bolg, and says that with that at his side, he won't fall (seriously, with that weapon he's on the same level as Levin, Sigurd, and Brigid. He's pretty much set). Cuan notes that they've reached enemy territory, and that Ethlin should probably head back, but she says she wants to stay. She says she wants to see Sigurd again, and doesn't want to leave Cuan, but he argues that she said she'd only come partway, which is why he let her bring Altenna along (why would you bring a child into a war zone, temporary or not?). He tells Ethlin to go back so that the children can be safe, and she agrees, while he tells her Fin is back in Lenster, so she can safely wait for his return. She asks is she couldn't stay a bit longer, and he agrees.
Then, that Trabant fellow and a lot his winged goons fly in from below, and he says that Cuan knows nothing of his presence, and that he also brought Ethlin along. He orders his men to "bid a fine farewell to Lenster's Lance Ritter", noting that with the desert hindering them, they couldn't possibly put up a fight (we'll see about that). Cuan notices them, and curses himself for not seeing that Trabant followed them. He tells Ethlin to escape, knowing that they can't put up any kind of fight in the desert. She asks what will happen to him, but he urges her to escape, saying that they're like a pack of hyenas, and won't show any kind of mercy, even to a child. Thracia has apparently been after their country for quite a while, which is why he left half his military behind with Fin, in case they attacked. She assures him they can take them down if they fight together, and this lifts Cuan's spirits somewhat. Trabant and his men fly forth, and the focus moves to Velthomer.
Alvis is informing Reptor of Langberts demise, and Reptor asks what they will do now, since Alvis was the one who said Sigurd wouldn't pose a threat. Alvis tells him to calm down, and notes that he has Velthomer troops stationed in the Yied desert, and that the Thracian Mercenaries he hired should be showing up shortly. Reptor hopes Alvis is right, and says that while he's fine with Alvis having the throne, he doesn't want to be left out once he becomes king. Alvis assures him that, once this war is finished, Reptor's family will govern Agustria, and the Dozel family will command Isaac. Reptor leaves, saying that he will challenge the rebels with all he has, and Manfloy appears, noting that the plans seem to be going accordingly. Alvis is surprised and angered by Manfloy's presence, saying that he told all members of the Lopt Sect to stay hidden until he achieves power. Manfloy retorts by saying that Alvis is too weak to admit the Lopt Sect openly, and that he's let Langbert and Reptor walk all over him, when originally they were going to kill those two once they became useless and work through their sons instead. Alvis notes that he wants Manfloy to listen closely, and states that he has no intention of rebuilding the Lopt Empire, and while he will allow the Lopt Sect to stay active once he takes the throne, he will not allow the world to be ruled by their Dark Lord. He also states that he doesn't care if he has Loptian blood, because that blood belongs to Myra, who fought for the good of the people, and is also ancestor to the Fire God Fala, and will use his power to create a world free of prejudice, where no one need fear repression. Alvis considers Sigurd a sacrifice to the greater good due to him knowing too much, and Manfloy points out that this greater good likely also revolves around Dierdre, since he accuses Alvis of fearing that her memories may return, and Alvis claims they are in love, and no one shall get in their way. Manfloy tells him to hurry and bear a son then, since that child is sure to become a magnificent king.
Now in Phinora (shit, so much is happening this turn), Vaha notices our approach, and says that we will be getting a good dose of Meteor. I'm then treated to sudden people on mountains blasting me with fire!
Thankfully, they were stupid and went for Claude, so everything is fine. But damn, I need to get this through quickly, since I'm stuck in a desert, Cuan's about to get mauled by some wyverns, and I've got siege mages to deal with. And Fury's gonna be busy, since they're all out of reach of any ranged weapons, having been parked on the plateau's covering the region. I also look at Trabant and his men, and they are all armed with Knight Slayers, save the big cheese himself and his general, Magorn, the latter with a brave lance, a shield ring, and pursuit, and the former who has a divine weapon. the Gungnir (linked to his major Dain holy blood), which boosts strength, speed, and defense by 10, and he also has a Recover Ring, which restores all his health every turn. Finally, he has the pursuit and nihil skills, so Cuan can't even use his skills to outmatch the powerful foe.
Goddammit, I'm going to be forced to watch more people get killed while I can't do anything to help them! I have everyone march into the desert, Tiltyu, Azel, Lachesis, Aideen, Sigurd, Sylvia, and Claude heading west through the dunes to confront Vaha and her goons, while the rest of the party heads south to try to defeat Trabant and save Cuan before it's too late, though it's a mostly empty hope, given the length of desert they must cross. I'm hoping to just defeat Trabant and his goons once they finish their work and come for us, as I expect them to, since Alvis hired them.
Progress slows to a crawl as the party members of both groups contend with the desert sand, and Cuan fares no better, Trabant's knights easily picking off the Lenster troops one by one. And then they reach Ethlin, who dies while asking Altenna to forgive her. Trabant notes the child, and recognizes her as Cuan's daughter. He orders his soldiers to tell Cuan to hand over the Gae Bolg, or he will kill the child right there. Cuan quickly gives up the Gae Bolg, choosing his child over the spear, even as the wyvern knights continue their assault. They take down the rest of the Lenster knights, and finally reach Cuan, now disarmed and unable to defend himself. Cuan falls, and Trabant didn't even have to lift a finger. Trabant tells Magorn to go and raise some hell with us, but before his men leave, Magorn asks what to do with the child. Trabant decides to take her and the Gae Bolg back to Thracia, and then flies off (you scummy little freak, get back here so Jamka and Brigid can plant some arrows in your skull!)
Sigurd's group continues their secretive march to Phinora, while Levin's group goes to engage Magorn and his troops. Fury ignores the remaining siege mages, since they aren't within reach to harm anyone yet, and will be dealt with later. She flies to Levin and gets healed, while the others follow close behind them. Beowulf and Lex will sadly need to hang back, being vulnerable to the knight killers wielded by all of Magorn's men. Aideen silences both sleep staff wielders with Sylvia's help, leaving Tiltyu, Claude, and Azel to go deal with Vaha and her mage, while Fury goes to assist in taking down these foes. After they approach, Tiltyu leads the attack, striking the defenseless Vaha while everyone else trudges forward. Fury flies back to help Levin's group deal with Magorn.
Magorn being the only one of them with any actual skill, he happens to harm Aira with his brave lance, and Levin uses the Recover on her, while Fury heals Brigid, the next most badly harmed member of the team. Afterwards, Aira takes down Magorn, Holyn cleaves another wyvern in half, and the archers snipe a couple more. Tiltyu finishes off Vaha, and the rest of the group soon aims to bring down her remaining troops. A couple more turns of lizard killing later, and Levin's group is done, and they head to Phinora. Fury soon deals with all of the ranged sages, while everyone is healed. Fury flies back in, her duty done, and she gets healed while Sigurd seizes Phinora.
Sigurd notes that, having taken this castle, Grandbell is not far. He also wonders as to the condition of Oifaye and Serlis. An elder of Phinora walks in, and Sigurd apologizes for having to involve this oasis in the conflict. The elder notes that there was also fighting in the southern desert while this went on, and Sigurd asks who fought. The elder says that a group of Lenster's Lance knights were assaulted by Thracian wyvern knights, with the word being that none of the Lenster knights survived. Sigurd, distraught at the news, asks if the man is completely sure, and he stands by his claim, also noting that he heard there was a little girl with them. Sigurd puts the pieces together, and now learns of the demise of his close friend and sister.
Phinora is captured, and immediately we see general Ida and Reptor speaking. Reptor wonders as to whether Alvis is really going to back him up, and isn't just sending him off to die, and Ida assures him Alvis has just finished his plan of attack, and will support him immediately. Reptor seems hesitant, but decides he must trust Alvis. Ida then goes to assume Velthomer's defense, and laughs to herself, noting that Reptor hasn't figured it out yet. He orders his men not to move until the enemy is well within range.
I decide to end this off there, and will continue with the siege of Velthomer and the defeat of both Ida and Reptor next time!