Let's Play Monster Quest: Part 22

For those of you who skipped past the skirmish grinding the highlights include...

-Ephraim reached level 30, and still wasn't done leveling. I promoted him rather than persist in the experiment.

-I realized the Sacred Twins weren't extra-effective against monsters. At all. They're so good in Monster Quest it's no real loss, though.

-Tana reached S in Lances, thus allowing her to actually wield Vidofnir.

-L'arachel reached S in Light Tomes, which is honestly a bit unnecessary on my part but whatever.

-I discovered that the Stone Shard seems to provide the Silencer skill to the wielder, in addition to its stat bonuses.

-I discovered that Revenants don't have the Thief experience bonus. Dang. Makes this monster grinding idea a lot less effective.

Additional points that happened once I stopped deciding to grind in detail include:


-Gerik's combat graphic. (Has that cropped up before? I don't think it has, but it's been ages) It's okay.



-Franz getting two levels real quick and promoting. I like the brown look for him.


-Slowly working on Ewan and Knoll.


-Rennac's combat graphic, which is about as revolting as Colm's original one.

-I didn't get a screenshot of it, but I discovered that Entombed just plain have Silencer, rather than it being a property of the Stone. I discovered this by one hostile Entombed getting a 6% crit Silencer (So a 3% chance of happening, ignoring that their accuracy was below 80), which is aggravating. But seriously, Silencer on Entombed. That's crazy.


So let's get started.

... wait, why is this called 'Last Hope'? I never noticed that. What's that supposed to mean?




I've always suspected this mission was originally conceived of as a major assault by the monsters, in no small part because this piece of dialogue makes no sense otherwise. In conjunction with having noticed the somewhat scattershot approach to monster promotion graphics, I find myself wondering if they dropped it because the monsters weren't as complete as they'd originally been conceived.

Of course, there's other possible explanations for this piece of dialogue happening, but I find them less likely.

Oh well.

Of course, in my bizarro-canon for LPing Monster Quest it's even stranger...



The enemies I can arrange to see using Colm and all to start. Also noting this particular Sniper has a Goddess Icon. I want it, but I have doubts I'll get it. I usually don't. The north is a bit of a mess, very difficult to avoid having people die, and while Luck is very important to get up on low-Luck characters and is always nice to have on anyone, most of the time a couple of points of Luck isn't missed in the way that a couple of points of Strength or Defense would be.


Also for some reason Mansel has actual stats and a C in Lances? Odd. I didn't screenshot it, but making things still weirder is he's not actually equipped with a Lance, and indeed has no items at all. I wonder why and how this happened, because this isn't what Mansel's like in the base game.

-----------------------------

Actually getting the mission done for the LP was delayed by over a year because this mission is a particularly maddening illustration of the weaknesses of Fire Emblem's design -and I don't mean the Monster Quest version of this mission. This mission is one of the most infuriating missions to do in the base version of Sacred Stones, and all the competition is less about Fire Emblem's inherent weaknesses being brought to the fore and more about Intelligent Systems abusing their precise knowledge and control of circumstances to eg spawn an ambush exactly when and where you're going to have troops if you're playing the obvious and/or correct way.

See, to really make this mission readily manageable, you need your troops to be godly unkillable killing machines, but not too good at their job because otherwise they'll just die when eight guys dogpile on them thanks to the first seven all dying and thus clearing the way. Or they need to be so insanely good that they can reliably survive such dogpiles, but this is improbable. This is late in the game and the enemies are all wielding strong weapons -mostly Silver tier- so it's simply not realistic for you to have some troops that are actually invincible through their stats.

Which means there's usually a substantial element of pure RNG to the whole thing, where if you're trying to pull off a no-deaths run -and this is the default goal in a Fire Emblem game for a variety of reasons- you're just going to have to redo the mission over, and over, and over, and over while you try to play competently and also just hope the RNG finally smiles on you.

This, by the way, is before taking into account that it's a fog mission and so you can't really plan properly without memorizing a bunch of stuff or consulting a guide or something. If you could at least see everything it would be a lot easier to tell when it's okay to fall back and reduce how many enemies can reach your front lines vs when you should be aggressively pushing forward and so on. It would also make it a lot less infuriating for the game to be spawning enemies in positions it makes no sense for them to be in -how are those Generals coming in from the southeast, exactly?

By contrast, the Taisen games are very broadly similar (Tactics game on square grids where attacking a target gives it a free counterattack if it's got range on you, huge cast of characters in each game, etc), but one of the core differences is that you have control over what a defender does. If Fire Emblem had something akin to how in Taisen you can elect to Evade or Defend instead of counterattacking, this entire nonsense with counterattacking to the point that you end up dead wouldn't be a result driven primarily by RNG -it would be happening because you made an iffy or outright bad judgment call, counterattacking one too many times when you could've stopped the dogpile by just not going for the counterkill.

Most missions in most Fire Emblem games avoid the forced-counterattack behavior being a problem through simple mission design, but this mission? Be prepared to lose people because they unexpectedly got a crit and suddenly more enemies are piling onto them. Evasion-based characters are particularly frustrating to try to use...

Anyway, the mission itself.


The forces I chose to bring into the mission.

Not that I have a lot of in the way of options. I'd need to do even more grinding to get anybody else to remotely tolerable for this fight. As-is, Knoll and Myrrh are painfully vulnerable, and Vanessa, Franz, and even Amelia (Who I failed to catch in these shots; really, past me?) are just a little too weak overall to properly participate, even though I brought them along. They can help hurt things, but if anybody's baleful eye turns upon them they may well die.

Something that's not obvious here is that for this particular run I went out and bought a number of Elixirs because one of the things that kept going wrong was I just plain didn't have enough healing, what with Monster Quest only giving me the one guaranteed Staff user and me being unwilling to use my forced-Gorgon characters 'cause their stats are so awful. This has been eroding my supplies of Vulneraries and Elixirs throughout the game, and it finally came to a head here.

So naturally I barely used Elixirs at all in this, the successful run.

Anyway...


Starting positions. Lute and Artur are hanging out with Ross and Marisa in the north. I also gave Marisa the Stone Shard for this run, instead of keeping it on Colm -Colm isn't going to be fighting, ideally, so having it on him is just a waste. Colm is taking the right side and Rennac the left side because I know from my failed runs that there's going to be Generals spawning in the lower-right whereas the left side of the map never spawned any enemies in a position to threaten Rennac, and Rennac is far more vulnerable than Colm.



Colm uses a Torch first turn, revealing a portion of the northeast forces and revealing the two Warriors and one Summoner in the southeast.

That Summoner is a Monster Quest change. You never encounter an enemy Summoner in the base game. It's not obvious in this run, but my failed runs showed that the AI doesn't even know how to use Summon. I suspect this is why there's never an enemy Summoner -and it's worth mentioning that Lyon can Summon too, but again he never does it even though that would be a good thing to have a standing-still Boss do.



Rennac follows in Colm's footsteps, revealing some of what's in the northwest and all of the most immediate southwest threats.


I move up the northwest team. Marisa is the only one fast enough to bait out enemies -she's actually fast enough she could go one tile forward and draw all three visible enemies, but I don't want to risk her getting killed.

I should've actually known better, as I'd just earlier the same day had a failed run that shows she'd be in way less danger than I'm thinking here. We'll get to that when we get to it.


Digging around trying to find who can even reach these jerks this turn, I end up deciding to send up L'Arachel to attack in anticipation of providing her (admittedly currently limited) Support bonus to Eirika in a moment.


Tana goes and sets herself up as bait -she's perfectly safe. She's got Vidofnir and the Fili Shield. Weapon Triangle disadvantage or no, she's not going to die. Neither of these guys even has a Bow, mind, and in retrospect I probably should have put the Fili Shield on Vanessa given what I knew, but overall it didn't end up mattering so whatever.

This is actually more dangerous than I thought at the time, except not really, but again we'll get to that.


Ephraim charges out to soften up the more distant Hero. I was kind of hoping for a crit, but oh well.



Then Eirika charges forward with help from Tethys, and proceeds to murder this Druid. I didn't bother with screenshotting anything other than the miss, since the Druid was doomed.


Finally, moving up happens and I end turn.


The very first thing that happens is the illustration of why Marisa should have charged an extra tile forward -the AI's obsession with landing kills extends to picking on green units if they're killable. This General was never going to end up targeting Marisa, he was always going to go after this Knight.

I don't screenshot anything past the initial targeting because there's no point. Literally every enemy on the map will always one-round every green Knight on the map, and most of the time it's outright impossible for the green Knights to even do damage to them. If a Grado unit decides to attack a green Knight, the Knight is dead.



A Brave Lance General -the only one on the map, thankfully- marches at Eirika, manages a single okay hit, and barely survives the double-retaliation.


Two green Knights die to Heroes.

If you beat this mission with at least 4 of the green Knights alive plus the green General, you get a Light Brand at the end. In the base game, that's a bit of a luck-based mission, but possible. In Monster Quest, the enemies have been boosted enough that it's more or less impossible.

On the other hand, you've got two Sword Sacred Twins that are range 1-2 while doing magic damage at range and with unlimited uses. Monster Quest only gives you, what, 4 non-Eirika Sword users at all, and Eirika is the only one that's actually a dedicated Sword user? Neimi is all but guaranteed to S rank Bows, too. I've still got Audhulma in storage because none of my non-Eirika units has an S rank in Swords!

So whatever, I don't care, it's just kind of sloppy on the hacker's part.



Over with Tana, she takes an Axe to the face, and double-retaliates non-lethally.

"Uh-oh," I go. "This could actually get her killed."

I'm wrong.



Back over west, one of the Druids -both carrying Luna, ugh- rushes out with an obsessive need to hope to roll a less than 1 in 200 chance of instantly killing Rennac. He misses, and... Rennac misses two 89%-before-True-Hit swings. Yes, those are separate screenshots. Yes, that's... pretty dang unlikely.

Okay, whatever. At least the Druid didn't get the instant-kill crit. It's not like I care about getting Rennac experience anyway.


And here we see why Tana is not actually in danger of dying. The first Warrior could not possibly put Tana low enough on HP for this Warrior to potentially kill her, whereas that poor Knight is an easy kill, and the AI's rigid turn order and short-term focus means that even though the two Warriors and the Summoner actually could all target Tana and potentially kill her, it will never happen.



The Summoner charges Tana, catching me somewhat off-guard as I'd forgotten this Summoner is willing to move. Fortunately, he misses. Unfortunately, while Tana should one-round him she also misses. Great.

Then it's green's turn, which leads into the other reason the Light Brand secret secondary objective is nearly impossible in Monster Quest and pretty dang annoying even in the base game.


The green AI is actively suicidal.

And there you go, now there's only 2 green Knights left, and we haven't even reached the second turn. No Light Brand for me, and not much room for me to rework my strategy to avoid this result.


Anyway, I take the opportunity to get Myrrh some safe experience.



Then I do an unsafe thing and have Tana just attack the Summoner. The most likely scenario is that she kills him in one hit, but she could easily have missed and if he then hit her she'd need a crit for the follow-up attack to kill him and would be at risk of being killed by the Warrior if I didn't heal her, which would realistically mean wasting a Physic use.

(This is a silly concern on my part, as you'll eventually see, but it was on my mind)

But I'm still early in the mission and was more in the mindset of changing my strategy anyway -hence the purchase of the Elixirs- so I was willing to risk it and just restart with a sword-user being sent southeast instead of this didn't work out.

Thankfully, it did. And Tana's level is pretty relevant! Even if she could really use more stats overall.



Marisa takes advantage of the Stone Shard's armor-slaying property to murder this General, gaining a pretty okay level out of it and dodging the retaliation.


Ross breaks out a Swordslayer to one-shot this Swordmaster effortlessly, and gains a solid level out of it. More Defense would be nice in the here and now and all, but this is good.


Artur takes an opportunity to train some more in Dark, except not really because he misses. The RNG is being kind of ridiculous this run, honestly.


Then Lute gets a crit on her second Excalibur attack (It's Brave, remember?) and so Artur missing isn't a big deal. Awesome.

I didn't take screenshots of it, but she also switches Ross back to Garm so the Snipers don't just take potshots at him and the General doesn't get Weapon Triangle advantage.



Further down south, Amelia breaks out a Heavy Spear to tear apart the non-Brave Lance-wielding General, and even dodges the retaliation. Nice.


Franz is helping to soften up a Hero.

I honestly only did this to get him some more experience. First thing Franz has ever done of use as a promoted unit, incidentally.


Eirika rides out to take out the other Luna Druid, and I missed the shot but she just crit-kills him outright. Excellent.


Then Neimi finishes off the Hero Franz softened up and it turns out he was actually relevant!


L'Arachel flies out to soften up this Hero. Nothing unexpected happens.



Vanessa proceeds to finish off the Brave Lance General with a gratuitous crit and takes his weapon for herself, no longer interested in using the Silver Lance.

Notably, Monster Quest has given the Brave weapons a lot more uses. The Brave Lance only has 30 uses in the base game, not 50. I approve, given how rapidly Brave weapons can burn through their uses.


Then Ephraim finishes off the Hero from a distance.



Followed by Tethys letting him range out to get another level off of a Swordmaster -his first promoted level, in fact.

He's honestly in no danger. The Swordmasters can't crit him -and thankfully there's no Killing Edge Swordmasters anywhere in this battle- and he's at Weapon Triangle advantage with kind of obscene stats given he's technically now a Level 2 promoted unit.

So now it's time for the enemy's turn.


This General commits suicide on Marisa.



This Hero with a Brave Sword misses twice and loses half his health in exchange.



This Swordmaster commits futile suicide.



This other Swordmaster also commits futile suicide, giving Ephraim a little bit more protection against his already-weak foes. And lethality, though it doesn't really matter for the moment.


A Sniper lunges from the now-shadows to accomplish nothing.



Which in turn forces his buddy Sniper into actually attacking somebody who can fight back -Artur takes a hit, but doubles him in turn.


The southeast Warrior continues his obsessive slaughter of helpless green Knights, leaving me down to one of them.

Jerk.


Then it's my turn, and I open with Rennac opening a door, and showing what's in the southwest.

I didn't think to screenshot Riev's stats and whatnot just yet. Oops.


In the southeast, Colm continues to approach the chest and Vanessa sets herself up to bait out the Warrior. I considered using her Elixir to heal, but it only has 2 uses and she'll survive his attack just fine, and there's nobody around them just yet. So... I held off on it.


In the northwest, Marisa murders the healthier Sniper, and gets a somewhat lackluster level.

At least she got Speed. The Heroes are fast enough in this level that 22-23 isn't necessarily enough to double them, and Speed is essential to Marisa.


Then Artur finishes off the Sniper he weakened.


Followed by Lute making a bit of a wall for Artur and Ross fearlessly ranging out to break his enemy's bones and feast on their entrails.

Or whatever it is Cyclops do, I dunno.


L'Arachel softens up the Brave Sword Hero. I was kind of hoping for a crit, but oh well.



Neimi comes along to finish them off instead, netting her a perfect level and promptly sending the Brave Sword off to storage. Maybe Eirika will break it out at some point.

It could happen.


Ephraim heads out to Reginleif this Great Knight to death and gets a nice dodge.

50% chance to dodge actually seems to be going my way this run.


Eirika rides out to soften up the one Swordmaster in reach.

I'd complain about that level, but if you've forgotten Eirika's stats are all capped aside HP and Defense. This is perfect.


Amelia steps up to try to finish off the Swordmaster, and to my pleasant surprise lands the hit and gets a really good level out of it.

Notice she had 24 Defense and I still rated her as not really powerful enough to properly get stuck in with enemies in this level.

Admittedly, that's in part because she lacks a Sacred Twin...


Vanessa flies up to switch Amelia from her Bow to a Killer Lance, because I know there's a horde of Swordmasters out there out for bloo- um. Bones. Broken bones.


Tethys heals Eirika and sets herself up to take some heat off of Amelia -remember, Tethys is a goddess among mortals, pretty much unkillable in Monster Quest- and everybody moves up and we end the turn.


Swordmaster takes the Tethys-shaped bait and hey actually lands a hit.

Nobody cares.



A Great Knight lungs out of the shadows, but Ephraim is having none of that and gets... a mediocre level out of the kill. Eh. He's got plenty of levels left to go, and Speed is one of the most important things here and now.



Another jumps out of the shadows, lands another 50-ish% hit, and fails to die or even get doubled.



Then the action shifts up north, with Ross and the Hero exchanging misses only for Ross to render it a moot point with a crit on his second strike.



Then the other Hero suicides on Ross just as futilely, granting him a really great level. Resist isn't even needed in the near future -the northeast corner is all about the physical threats.



A Paladin comes charging out of the not-shadows, and Amelia proceeds to dodge and double-crit him.

He doesn't survive.



Over with Tana, the RNG continues to be nice, with her dodging an Axe to the face and landing both retaliations just fine. Almost got him...


Back northwest, that Warrior who's been showing up in the shots takes a potshot at Marisa but it just annoys her.



Then a Warrior comes lunging out of the shadows, misses Artur, and gives him a mediocre level. Speed, man! Speed! 19 Speed is not good enough!

I'm really only bringing him along because of his Support with Lute, let's be honest here.



A Sniper doubles Ross with a Brave Bow and then promptly dies horribly to being doubled back. I'd be annoyed he got even one hit on Ross except Ross is a giant slab of durability and he's carting around an Elixir so it's all fine.

I of course loot his Brave Bow and promptly dump it off into storage.



Then a second Sniper -it's pretty much all pairs up here- suicides on Ross without touching him.


We bounce back southwest to a Ranger getting a successful potshot in on Amelia.

In retrospect I was maybe being over-cautious with her. Oh well.

Then it's my turn.


Tana finishes off the Warrior in the southeast.



Ross gets a level off of exchanging lethal hand-axes with this Warrior, and it's once again a really great level.


Artur continues taking safe potshots, and also gets some healing in while he's at it.


Followed by Marisa finishing off the target.


Then Lute moves up to safely box them both off from any oncoming enemies.

It's still a bit weird to be using Lute as a tank.


Eirika slaughters a Warrior while getting started on making a wall for the flood of southwest enemies.


Ephraim instantly completes a wall in the southeast while softening up a Swordmaster from a distance -I know it looks like that tile northeast of Ephraim should be passable, but it isn't. Nothing can get past Ephraim without killing him now.


Amelia goes and exchanges blows with this Swordmaster, boxing him in. I'd been hoping for a crit, but at least he has to commit suicide on her or Ephraim now. Well, he wouldn't necessarily die immediately if he attacked Amelia, but the point is he can't attack anybody else.


L'Arachel gets started on softening up this remaining loose Swordmaster.


Then Neimi wipes them out exactly while working a little bit more on that southwest wall.


Franz takes a potshot at the locked-up Swordmaster. Still just trying to get him more experience.


Knoll actually gets this kill! Not that it levels him up just yet, but that's a pleasant surprise regardless.


I abruptly remember Rennac exists and have him loot this Runesword. That is way more likely to actually see use in Eirika's hands. Or at all.


I decide to blow a Physic charge on barely restoring Ephraim's HP while Tethys serves to finish the makeshift southwest wall. In retrospect I'm not entirely sure why I had her heal him. I think I was overestimating Ephraim's likely rate of landing kills on his foes.


Anyway, this is what we end with the southwest looking like.


Ephraim gets a really good level out of being attacked by a Swordmaster -the one we could see, in fact.



A Paladin charges Eirika with decent damage potential, but she dodges and murders him.


A Mage Knight decides that since Tethys is the only thing he can reach that won't fire back, it makes sense to go for a less-than-36%-chance of plinking off one hit point.

Having Tethys nearly invulnerable is great.


This is followed by the Ranger making a similar decision, though to be fair he'd have done a whole 7 points of damage if he had hit.



Then I screw up catching a shot of a different Ranger exchanging arrow fire with Neimi. He even actually lands his hit, but meh.


Then abruptly it's my turn, which I open by having Colm open the most distant chest. Fortify! I need to get him to loot another chest so he can send Fortify to the Convoy!

Wait, 20 uses? In the base game it's only got 8.

(This is going to get even funnier eventually)


Tana sets herself down in anticipation of twin enemy Generals spawning in. I know they'll be appearing here, and soon. It's part of why I had Tana go southeast even though she had to fight Axe-wielding Warriors. It's less of a problem to have her fight them at a disadvantage when Tethys is right there to potentially heal her than to have someone else fight them at an advantage and then end up at a disadvantage against the Lance-wielding Generals. And Ross is too important up north to handle this.


Speaking of up north, Artur continues to work on grinding out that Dark experience by taking a potshot at a Warrior that Ross running forward revealed.


This is followed by Lute murdering said Warrior for a level that has everything I most want her getting. Huzzah!


Rennac loots Fenrir -the A rank Dark tome- and takes the opportunity to send the Runesword into the Convoy.


Then Ephraim softens up a Great Knight from a distance.


Myrrh takes a free shot at the nearer Ranger for experience. She desperately needs experience.


This is followed by L'Arachel doing some of her own Dark training, nearly killing off the Ranger.


Tethys gets out of the way while healing Neimi, so that...


... Vanessa can finish off the Ranger for a fantastic level.


Knoll takes a potshot at this Swordmaster, successfully softening them up/earning some Dark experience.


Followed by Franz finishing off said Swordmaster. Huzzah! Real experience!



Meanwhile, over with Eirika, she caps her final non-HP stat by killing this Warrior.


Then Neimi moves to where Tethys used to be and wipes out the Ranger she traded blows with during the enemy's turn.


And... there's nothing left to do, so end turn.



The Great Knight Ephraim weakened on my turn suicides on Ephraim.



Then bounce back to the north to watch a Hero suicide on Ross.



Followed by another one.


Then back south to Ephraim getting a pretty nice level off of retaliating against a Swordmaster.


More westerly, a Paladin bolts out of the shadow of war and dies on Eirika's blade.



North again, a Sniper exchanges fire with Artur. Stings a little.


Southwest once more, a Mage Knight takes a successful potshot at Vanessa. Ow. This kind of thing is part of why I say she's not really strong enough to fight in the thick of things.


Then a different Mage Knight suicides on Eirika.


Followed by another Paladin.

And... that's it, my turn.

First of all those Generals-


...

That's not a General.

Okay, first off, what's obvious for people familiar with the base game; no, you never see an enemy Assassin anywhere in Sacred Stones. Monster Quest placing an enemy one here is the same as placing a Summoner in the area at the beginning.

What's not obvious is that even though I did this mission at least two dozen times trying to get it done for the LP, it never spawned an Assassin in at any point. This run? The only time it happened.

I have no idea what I did different this time. Checking Serenes Forest's page on the base version, this is apparently replacing a Thief spawn... but then I should've had it happen before.

Anyway...



Tana gets started on murdering it.

Fortunately, they're no threat to her. 10 base crit? She has 26 Luck. There's no Silencer chance here, and they'll barely chip through her now-19 Defense with their 22-1 from Weapon Triangle disadvantage. The Poison is the most dangerous part.

Oh, and that graphic is in the code normally too, though you'd never see in normally.


Colm pilfers... 5000 Gold? Argh, I wanted to transfer the Fortify Staff!


Rennac pilfers a Speedwing, which promptly gets dumped into storage. I've got several characters down there who would jump in effectiveness if only they had a little more Speed...


Rennac's new position reveals a Rogue has spawned, replacing the usual Thief. Again, I never had this happen before this attempt. As with Assassins, enemy Rogues are not a thing in the base game, aside Rennac.

The odd thing is that the Rogue 'face' graphic is in the code of the base game, suggesting they'd intended to have enemy Rogues and just... didn't.


Anyway, Ephraim once more softens up a Great Knight from a distance.


Franz takes a potshot at the Swordmaster in front of Ephraim and gets a level that has none of the stats I want right now... though admittedly he really needs the Luck.


Marisa wipes out the Sniper in the north for a fantastic if offensively-oriented level.


Everybody else works on finding enemies while keeping Artur safe, resulting in this formation.



Eirika charges forward to vaporize in one crit a Battle Mage, getting a perfect (heh) level out of it. Just 4 more HP to go for all caps!

Myrrh I consider having attack a Mage Knight and


OH GOD FINGER SLIPPED

... fortunately, she does fine.

This does make things potentially a little more complicated, though.



Neimi charges forward to get some more Sword experience, getting a decent defensive level out of it and tanking a modest hit.


Vanessa flies north, intending to take on the Rogue, and uses her lone Vulnerary use. I stupidly have her stop outside of the Rogue's range, having noticed she's slower than him, and only realizing that wait he can't steal her Vulnerary because she's eating it partway through the healing animation.

Oops.


Tethys heals Neimi and walls off Myrrh from unpleasantness, and I cross my fingers and hope things don't end up with a Ranger killing Myrrh with a Bow.


I end turn looking like this -L'Arachel moved up because... I dunno, she did. Habit.



The enemy opens up with suiciding their injured Great Knight on Ephraim, and hey they actually hit him this time! I might need to break out a Physic or something, maybe have Ephraim use his Elixir that's just been waiting for its shining moment of glory.



Up north, a Warrior dies to Lute's quadruple attack. Or the first three parts of it, anyway.



The Assassin suicides on Tana without even Poisoning her. Wait, why does he have zero dama- oh right, Vidofnir provides 5 Defense.

Also, that shot of him missing looks pretty cool.


Up north, I fail to properly time a shot of a Warrior going for Ross. He draws blood, and then explodes into gore.



His buddy doesn't do as well, and gives Ross a level.


Tethys draws her Warrior's attention, which is a huge relief since it means there's no room for a Ranger to get at Myrrh.

That's part of why I set Tethys there, but every once in a while I fail to properly anticipate the AI, so I was worrying.



Meanwhile, Ephraim gets nicked and oh my he's down to 14 HP, this definitely calls for healing. Though that's a nice level he just got.



Lute gets shot at by a Sniper, who dies for his trouble without even irritating her eye.


And then it's my turn and wait why is there another Assassin?

Rechecking the Sacred Stones page I linked earlier, this should've been another Thief. Again, I never saw any Assassins in prior runs. Bizarre.

Contrary to what you might expect, there isn't a second Rogue on the western edge.


Tana gets started putting holes in his head.


Colm loots Bolting and sends off Fortify. Yes!


So never mind that Elixir and that Physic use, I'm just breaking out Fortify to solve all the southwest's problems.


Ephraim isn't quite at full HP, but this is plenty, honestly.


Knoll finally whiffs a middling-accuracy attack on a Swordmaster. I was kind of hoping to get him the kill so I could promote him -I really want somebody wielding Gleipnir, and Knoll is my best shot.


Franz takes the kill instead.


More westerly, Neimi murders a distant Mage Knight. Eirika and Neimi have little to fear from pointy things at this point, it's raw elemental fury that's an actual threat to their HP. She also helps complete the wall while getting Tethys out of the line of fire -Tethys is insanely tough, but Fortify doesn't heal her, and I've got no on else to heal her. It'd be annoying to end up using an Elixir to heal her.


Vanessa swoops down on her fell wings toward the Rogue to try to kill him with a Brave Lance. I don't really expect this to work, but


Oh.

O-oh, okay, if the RNG wants to be nice to me today I'll take it.

... I only just now realized I failed to get a screenshot of what a Generic Enemy Rogue looks like.

Oops.


Eirika murders the more distant Warrior.



And I decide hey, L'Arachel can often up this Warrior for some more Dark experience, maybe Amelia can land the finishing blow-

Oh wait she crit him never mind.

And it's a pretty good level too!


Up north my forces cautiously advance, trying to find whoever is left up there without getting Artur killed.

They find nothing.


So... end turn looking like this, with Rennac having moved up.

It still has not occurred to me to screenshot Riev.


Great Knight suicides on Ephraim, news at eleven.



Second Assassin suicides on Tana, who goes totally overboard with a gratuitous crit and then gets a rather underwhelming level. Could be worse, admittedly.



Meanwhile, in the north, a Warrior lunges out of the shadows at Lute, fails to touch her, and instantly dies to an unnecessary crit, netting Lute a pretty good level.I'd still really like more Defense on her, 13 is kind of alarmingly low at this point, but otherwise she's looking good.



A Warrior in the southwest takes a futile swing at Neimi and nearly dies as a result.



Ephraim, as usual, gets targeted by a Swordmaster, who invisibly hits him for minor damage. Ephraim gets a nearly-perfect level out of the experience -his Luck is already capped.

I'm pretty sure he's going to cap everything, or maybe everything except Resistance.



Anyway, a Sniper suicides on Ross.

You know, I think the enemy missed way more than they should've on this run. That would explain why it felt way too easy.



Rennac marches more southerly and uses another Torch. It's not like I'm going to ever use a Torch again after this, might as well.

As you can see, the enemies are seriously backed up by my twin chokepoints.

... I didn't notice that pun until after I made it, I swear.

Oh, and I still don't think to take a screenshot of Riev.


Instead, I have Knoll waste a perfectly good Flux use on not getting Dark experience.


Franz once again shows him how it's done, and gets a very solid level out of it. I really want Speed and Defense more urgently, but this is good regardless.

Man, I spent all that time grinding up Franz and he's not even that good. Or contributing much to the actual mission.


Anyway, with the way cleared I get maybe a bit unnecessarily aggressive and have Ephraim charge forward so two enemies can attack him at a time without needing one of them to die first, and get a crit-kill on a distant Swordmaster. Nice.


Amelia takes a couple potshots at the nearby Great Knight and gets an eeeh level out of it. Seriously, Speed. And Strength. Please.


I end up deciding to have Tethys heal Ephraim now that I've put him in this possibly-overly-risky position.


Myrrh, meanwhile, finishes off the Warrior in front of Eirika and Neimi and gets an excellent level out of it. I mean, she really needs Luck, but on the other hand Luck doesn't matter if nobody can do damage to her in the first place.


Eirika proceeds to move forward, blocking off anyone from attacking Myrrh, and distant-kills a Paladin. Partly because he's the only guy who can't retaliate, but mostly because the Paladins keep worrying me with how hard they'd hit Eirika if they could ever get around to actually hitting her.


L'Arachel moves up to keep providing moral support and get herself more Dark experience.


Then Neimi wipes out another Mage Knight for a pretty decent level.


Marisa takes the risk up north to reveal my foes so Ross and Lute can murder them and Artur can pretend he's something other than Lute's cheerleader.


Ross kills the first Hero effortlessly.


Then Artur grinds for Dark experience followed by Lute doing all the heavy lifting. Seriously, she could have soloed this guy.


End turn on a shot of Tana waiting, wondering when those Generals I know are due are going to actually show up.


First thing is a Paladin suicides on Eirika, once again missing at 50-ish% odds.



Followed by a Warrior doing the same, though he at least had garbage chance to hit. Eirika gets another perfect level out of punching a giant hole in him.


Then the action bounces over to Ephraim, first with a Great Knight suiciding ineffectually while whiffing another of those 50-ish% hits, followed by


a Swordmaster getting in Ephraim's face and just providing some free experience. I'll take this level-up. Ephraim is already kind of unfairly broken.



Another Swordmaster comes after Ephraim while failing to accomplish anything.


Then Eirika vaporizes yet another Paladin -this one actually hit her.

Seriously, if it weren't for all the coin flips going in my favor, this could and should be hard and involve juggling healing and probably at some point somebody dies because my characters are too stupid to not attack if anybody starts something with them.



Neimi dodges fire and annihilates the Mage Knight who tries to burn her.



A Ranger goes after L'Arachel, but the coin flips continue to love me so it's just free Dark experience.



Another Ranger goes after Eirika, dies having done nothing.



Followed by another, this time providing... a dead level-up!

Had to happen eventually, given her caps all-around.

And notice how now Riev has one buddy left around him. The west went from crowded to dead in one turn.


Anyway, my turn and finally these slow jerks have shown up to threaten Tana and Colm.


I do a very dumb thing instead of having Tana back off and heal, and have her go on the offense with a Heavy Spear. She dodges and kills them, so it's all good, but honestly I should've had her heal at some point in all this.


Up north there's... nothing.

Huh.


L'Arachel finishes off the Ranger who attacked her.


Knoll wastes another perfectly good Tome use, Nosferatu this time.

I've got unlimited Hammerne uses here, it's not like this is an actual waste.


Ephraim takes a ranged potshot at a Swordmaster.



Neimi snipes at Riev from outside his range because no way am I dropping anyone in his reach. He has more than 30 crit. You have to have a Support bonus to be able to neuter that! And Aura would absolutely murder most of my characters because they're monsters, but spoilers I actually hadn't thought of that at the time.

Mostly this was so I could get shots of Riev's battle graphic, and yikes it's legit creepy. I was not expecting Riev to manage to look creepy even as a Mogall.

Yes, I still don't think to screenshot Riev's stats and so on.

Though you can see here he has nearly 80 HP, 20 Defense, and 20 Attack Speed. Eesh.

Spoilers: I never remember to screenshot his stats and so on.

On the plus side, he should have the exact same stats in the next mission...


Anyway, Tethys heals Eirika.


Eirika proceeds to charge to a spot Riev can't reach to murder the freshly-spawned Mage Knight. Who misses, because seriously what is with the RNG this run.


And some moving around happens and I end turn.

Unseen is that Vanessa is watching vigilantly for any further Rogue-or-whatever spawns. This... doesn't end up mattering.



Ephraim countermurders his first Swordmaster.



Tana takes a hit from the surviving General and countermurders him.



Neimi gets targeted by the Warrior, but he misses and barely survives her retaliation.



Ephraim countermurders a Great Knight, continuing his streak of not-actually-that-probable of dodges. And caps HP.


Countermurders his second Swordmaster.



His third Swordmaster survives...



... but not his fourth, netting him a wholly dead level.



The Paladin charges Neimi, giving her a free level. It's a good one, too!



She proceeds to dodge an arrow and murder its sender.


And now it's my turn, with two Warriors suddenly next to Tana. Uh-oh.


She books it and heals, standing safely out of reach.


Colm breaks out a Torch use to reveal the other Warrior, but she's out of their reach too even though I didn't grab a screenshot.


Myrrh takes a free shot at the Warrior Neimi weakened.


Knoll finally breaks his unlucky streak, getting a very solid offensive level!

That Luck worries me, though.



Myrrh takes advantage of a second turn from Tethys to make another kill and gain another really good level, this time with Luck! Less Defense, but she's guaranteed to cap it with her growths so whatever.


Neimi takes more potshots at Riev.


Franz comes out into the open to melee a Swordmaster -this was completely safe, especially because I'd decided at this point to...



... end it with a gratuitously risky attack by Amelia on Riev.

Oh hey, free Aura!

Not that I have any use for it now.

Completing the mission earns me...


...L'Arachel's ultimate weapon.

This is 5 more Might, 30 more crit, and 3 more Weight than the base game's version. I'm also expecting it to, I dunno, suck out the life of my foes and feed it to its dark master, since the Sacred Twins keep getting cool bonus effects.

And of course I also get...


... the ultimate healing Staff.

And just like all the other Sacred Twins, it has completely unlimited uses.

So yeah, I have literally no use for any other healing Stave. Tethys can just spam the Staff of Latona every turn anybody is even slightly injured and BAM all my people are at full HP and have no negative status effects at all.

All the Sacred Twins are kind of ridiculous in Monster Quest, but this might be the most ridiculous. Previously having only one good healer was an actual flaw with my battlegroup. Now anything more than 1 healer is entirely redundant.


Oh, and I get 10,000 Gold thrown in for free. Given I barely spend money on fighting at this point, I can just toss this into Secret Shop stat boosters or whatever.


And after comparing everyone, I eventually decided Artur was the best choice for the Speed Wing. Mostly because he's going to be coming along to help Lute and he's painfully vulnerable in part because of his poor Speed. Him and Lute were up in the north in part because past the first two Swordmasters the enemies were not going to double Artur if I ended up with him open for some reason. That would not have been true in the southern battlefield.

----------------------

So wait, where did these Gradosians come from? Did they seriously follow us through the monster-infested hole of the first heart of the Darkling Woods? And why are they so clearly Grado's best and brightest? Where were these men literally anytime before now? Why were they even attacking us at all?
I 'unno.
... by boat?
Do you think we don't have harbor security?
Your castle security seems to be pretty pathetic. What was with those knights of yours? Why were they such weaklings if they're meant to guard the spiritual heart of Rausten?
Well. To be perfectly honest, the Darkling Woods does most of our border security for us. Most of our soldiers in the capitol are essentially decorative.
But we just killed our way through the Darkling Woods.
...
...
... let's not mention that detail to your uncle.
Our enemies have magic!
Works for me.
Hear hear.
Now let's just... follow Riev to wherever he is and find out what's going on.

---------------------------

See you next mission.

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