Update 54: Rats, We're Rats, We're Verrats

♪ The Forgotten ♪

No new chapter, we're just back in Abyss.

It doesn't matter. Abyss needs him. We've got to form a rescue party.
I just hope we're not getting in over our heads. We don't exactly know what we're dealing with.
I can't tell if our foe is extremely good at their job, or if the Knights of Seiros are just really bad at guarding cardinals.

Nothing sounds better than saving Aelfric and roughing up the jerks who took him. It's just... Well, as the Relentless King of Grappling, I'll be fine. But I'm worried about the others.

The people here really adore him. I'm sure they'd appreciate our help getting him back.
Then again, are we getting too involved? Maybe we should leave before we make things any worse.

Yet Aelfric's status was disclosed in that letter. Could this signal a power struggle within the church? Or perhaps that's what they want us to believe. Either way, we should pay close attention.

And whoever took him somehow knows we have the chalice. I bet they know how to use the thing too. I doubt they just plan to decorate their mantle with it.

Are his captors hoping to resurrect someone?
Hmm. Or perhaps they simply intend to sell it for an exorbitant payoff...
Given what we learn in one of the Ashen Wolves's paralogues, I wouldn't be surprised if there's multiple nobles in Fódlan who'd bankrupt themselves just to have the Chalice of Beginnings.

Perhaps it's linked to the Four Apostles. If so, then in the chasm... No. There isn't enough to back that up.
Hm? Oh, sorry, Professor. I need to think on this longer before sharing my theories.

Master Aelfric's done so much for me. I wanted to pay him back one day, but instead...I let this happen. I'll never make this up to him. Ugh! I'm disgusted with myself! Don't look at me—I'm a monster.
Aww, don't beat yourself up, Abysskeeper. You're a guardsman, not someone trained to handle, presumably, multiple trained professionals who are good enough to ascertain the identity and location of not just a cardinal, but one of the Church of Seiros's most valuable artifacts.

I've made sure that the elderly and children are hidden in their homes. They need to stay safe.
Smart move.
Comes naturally to me. When I say jump, my rogues jump. That's why they call me boss.
So that's the deal. People are safe for now. But I can't shake the feeling that something's just...off. All we can do at this point is focus on the problem staring us in the face.

I was abducted once, when I was younger. My captor used me as a test subject in her twisted experiments. Maybe we can just give them the chalice and they'll release him unharmed.
...Please tell me the Agarthans didn't fuck up another person's life with their human experimentation, in addition to Edelgard and Lysithea.

I alluded to it before, but I sincerely believe there is a spy in Abyss.
I think you're right.
We are in agreement, then? Yuri is exceedingly devoted to his friends, but there are times that he can be a bit too trusting.

Before I go into battle, I get Claude a silver bow. We've got some spare funds.
♪ Tactics ♪

I suppose the only conclusion we can draw is that they really were after Aelfric all this time...
Perhaps they were instructed to avoid unnecessary casualties...
Is that Aelfric guy really a cardinal? Are the secret cardinals really a thing? I thought that was a myth.
Hard to believe. Did you folks in the Ashen Wolves know that?
Nah, that's news to me. The identity of the cardinals is top secret, even within the church.
He never would have told us something like that. Oh, except maybe Yuri...
He and I talk about a lot of things. But right now, I'd say we have more important topics to discuss than his title. Aelfric's been kidnapped. What are we going to do about it?
Even if it is in the name of rescuing him, we simply cannot hand over the chalice to those scoundrels!
Let's just give them the thing and be done with it.

Is this loud...uh, excitable knight a friend of yours?
He's a trusted friend.
You humble me, Professor! I'm Alois. I serve the church as a knight of Seiros.
Now, about Aelfric's kidnapping...
Since he's an important member of the church, we must use any means necessary to find him.

Sure, but any knights are better than no knights, yeah?
I like your attitude, though I'm still embarrassed that we're not in full force... But hey, at least we're quite forceful!
Ugh. Here, take this letter. We believe it was left by whoever kidnapped the cardinal. In it, the enemy clearly spells out their plan. They're after a chalice that was hidden beneath Abyss.
A chalice, hm? A chalice... Hmmm... Ah! Do you mean THE chalice?! But no, why would it be there? I've never heard anything about it being stowed away in Abyss.
Then this is gonna come as a shock, pal.

The probability of that is unassailably high, yes.
It was guarded by a bunch of giant, creepy toys. There was powerful magic protecting it and everything.
I saw it with my own eyes.
If you say so. Wow, that means the story about the chalice being bound was true. Well, what's done is done! Oh, but I guess it's not done just yet.
I must report this to Lady Rhea at once!

Well, I guess that explains the lack of protection for a cardinal, yes, I'm still hung up on that. Given that Cindered Shadows takes place in the months between the Rite of Rising and the ball, I suppose the Knights of Seiros would be spending a lot of time seeking out remnants of the Western Church.
♪ No music ♪

That bodes well.
♪ Guardian of Starlight ♪

Don't beat around the bush. What's our punishment?
You removed a most sacred treasure. Truly it is my obligation to mete out punishment for that transgression. However... You also helped the church locate a valuable artifact. In light of this good deed, I shall forgive the bad one.
I do wonder...
What's on your mind?
I am wondering whether your presence had anything to do with the artifact's unbinding, Professor. As per the church chronicles, the Four Apostles secured the chalice with powerful magic. The only way to release the chalice is by using the four Crests passed down through their bloodlines. However, given the special power you possess, perhaps you were able to unlock it yourself. There is no knowing at present. For the time being, I will keep the chalice somewhere safe.
As for Aelfric, I assure you that the knights will find and return him in due time. I consider him to be one of my many children, after all. I will not allow harm to befall him.
Lady Rhea, might I ask a moment of your time? We cannot be expected to give up our endeavor! The enemy stated most clearly that if the knights are involved, our dear Aelfric is finished!
We owe him so much. If there is any possibility that his life is in danger, the risk is too great to chance!
True. The knights are strong and all, but they're liable to get him killed.
We can take care of it. With Chatterbox's help.
Our professor has the strength of a hundred knights, or about one and a half of me. We've got this. How about it, Rhea?
We've been through too damned much to get here. Leave the chalice and Aelfric to us. You won't regret it.
Lady Rhea... Please.
I'll take full responsibility.

As you wish. I shall entrust you with the chalice.

That is quite enough. There is no cause to worry, I assure you. There will be no further discussion on the matter.
Even if we lost hold of the chalice, it would be impossible for the thieves to make use of it. Though it was created to return a life that was lost, I doubt that anyone alive knows how to accomplish that feat. If someone were to successfully replicate the ritual...it would perhaps be the work of fate.

♪ Spiderweb ♪

What is this, some sort of interrogation?
Yeah, you've never been big on sharing. I mean, you know all about me, and there's still so much I don't know about you.
Look, I get it. Talking about the past isn't easy. But I'm curious, yeah? So get to it. I've got all day.
Do you now? Heh heh. Well. I guess now's as good a time as any to tell you.

That cannot be!
What do you mean by that?
Originally, I attended the academy as Count Rowe's adopted kid. There came a point when the church ordered me to wipe out some members from my old gang. Told me it was part of some important mission.
Who is this "old gang" you speak of?
They were nothing more than common thieves to someone like you, Constance.
Anyway, they're like family to me, so naturally I protested my orders. Things got pretty heated and, well...the rest is history.
That's some story, pal. You're damn lucky they didn't execute you.
Heh, you're telling me. Aelfric stepped in and implored them to spare my life, told them to consider the circumstances. It's not so different for the rest of you. I'm sure he helped all of us out in different ways.
He did. I was about to be thrown in the monastery's underground jail... People thought I was dangerous, what with my "gift" and all.
It's dark and dingy here, but it sure beats a prison cell. Elfie really saved my neck.
Back to the point—Balthus, what was it you were so curious about? You had ideas regarding why our enemies may be clawing after the chalice, perhaps?
Nah, nothing like that. But I am hung up on something Rhea said. That binding on the chalice was linked to the Four Apostles, yeah? I know I've got Chevalier's—

What is it? Can't you see we're busy?
I can. But I just remembered something. Something important. Specifically, the names of the Apostles. Aubin, Chevalier, Noa, and Timotheos. The four apostles whose bloodlines were lost to time. I figured the Ashen Wolves might have thoughts about all that.
Uh... Mm...

When I enrolled at the academy, the church ordered me to keep that tidbit to myself. So I did.

So the four Crests, which were presumed lost, have all been gathered into the same house.
All thanks to our buddy Aelfric, it would seem.
And now Aelfric has been abducted. Why could that be? If it was the chalice they were after, they could have stolen it from us without the need for anything sly.
Maybe someone had it out for him. Or maybe he messed around with the wrong people.
Or it could just be unrelated entirely. We're trying to untangle this mess by tying more knots into it. I mean, Balthus, you landed here on accident, didn't you? It's not like that's linked to the rest of us. And I could just as easily have never ended up down here, you know? You're jumping at shadows. Anyway, we don't have time for this. Let's get our act together and head to the chapel ruins.

Yuri, I know you're probably trying to just keep the peace, but there's absolutely no way in hell this is a coincidence.
♪ The Forgotten ♪

Another exploration bit, again.

OK, that was a weird analogy. The point is I'm very, very shocked.

We had to release the binding and everything. Well, I mean, it kind of released on its own—but still!
Let's wrap this up and head home so I can get some quality sauna time. Hilda needs a steaming.

What do you mean?
I never understood why my village was hidden away from the rest of the world. But now I finally get it. What a relief.

For now, we just need to focus on rescuing Aelfric and sniffing out some answers.
I know it's been one crisis after another, but you're still game to help us, yeah? We need you, pal.

He's worked tirelessly to protect Abyss for years and years. Yet had House Nuvelle not met such a terrible fate, I would never have come to Garreg Mach.
And Noa's bloodline would never... Can his kidnapping really be a simple coincidence? Or...

The church would have destroyed me ages ago if it wasn't for a certain someone having my back. My life was spared... It's a debt I intend to pay, no matter the cost.

Doesn't the church consider it important? I know she said they wouldn't be able to use it, but something doesn't feel right.

To think that their bloodlines carried on in secret. Right under our noses, one was even disguised as Imperial nobility... House Nuvelle was thought to be descended from Saint Macuil, but that was a fabrication.
How did they manage to avoid detection for so many generations?
I find it funny that this is the case, given that the only Crest that isn't assigned to any unit we can recruit...is the Crest of Macuil.

Ah, please forgive me. Musing aloud isn't going to get us anywhere. For now, let's finish our preparations. I fear a battle is imminent.

Eh, but before we dig into a new mystery, we'd better figure out the ones we're already working on. I have a theory, but... Actually, scratch that. No use guessing when our answers await at the chapel ruins.
Claude, have you not noticed either the Vajra-Mushti or the Fetters of Dromi?

Sadly, though, there's no relics or sacred weapons for the Crest of Noa or the Crest of Timotheos—a distinction only shared with the Crests of Ernest and Macuil. The girls get no love here.

Nah. Tried it on, doesn't feel right. In any case, about Master Aelfric... Bring him back to us, OK? For my part, I'll look after things down here. If our enemy shows up, I'll stay by my post! I mean, I have to eat and stuff, but I'll come right back. Count on it.

I am supportive of this idea.

Hm I wonder if this man's thoughts here can be compared to our current real-world situation. HMMMMMMMMMMMMM.

Let's go.
♪ Spiderweb ♪

You're smiling with your mouth, but not your eyes...
Ha! It only happens when I'm being a little greedy.
When the bell strikes midnight, meet me out front of the Holy Mausoleum. My only condition is that you arrive promptly after midnight—and not a moment before. What say you?
Isn't it forbidden to enter the Holy Mausoleum?
All will be revealed when you arrive. It's settled. I'll see you tomorrow night, friend. Don't stand me up.

Yuri, you've become very suspicious very quickly.
♪ Gazing at Sirius ♪

I am well aware, which is why I have already dealt with the matter. Consider this, the Heroes' Relics are fearsome weapons imbued with great power. On the contrary, the chalice has long lost the power it once possessed. It is little more than a token of history.

It was created for a sacred purpose. To use the blood of the Four Apostles to...return the goddess to our world.
Their blood...

I have an urgent mission for you. Investigate the origins of the Ashen Wolves. Start with their enrollment forms for the academy. Keep an eye out for falsified documents.

Before you begin, summon Alois at once. I have new orders for the knights as well.

If I am correct, we haven't a moment to lose. Another tragedy is soon to transpire...

Oh, great, the Rite of Rising is about to happen again, isn't it? Who the hell is orchestrating this?
♪ Woven by Fate ♪

I can play little part here, save perhaps as a bargaining chip for our dear Aelfric...
Getting yourself captured instead? That wouldn't be good at all, Constance!
I think we should be more worried about B's... appearance. I mean, he's got way, WAY more, uh...life experience than the rest of us. And all that life experience makes you look more like a knight than a student, B.
You saying I'm old, pal? Don't forget you're speaking to the Ageless King of Grappling.
She's not wrong, Baltie. There's a pretty big age gap between you two.
You're friends with Hilda's older brother, right? That explains your...maturity. You make Hubert look like a spring chicken.
Can it, will ya? Anyway, I'm wearing a school uniform. No way in hell they'll think I'm a knight.
Yeah, and anyone wearing a school uniform is without a doubt a student.
To be honest, for a good while, I actually did think you might be a knight... Who made your uniforms and set up the Ashen Wolf House, anyhow?
If I might so humbly interject, that would be Aelfric.
He pulled everything together for us...some time after he was appointed as the guardian of Abyss. Said he wanted to give former students who were expelled from the academy somewhere to live. Somewhere to belong. Of course, all of this was established long before any of us were in the picture.
So getting you four together was a coincidence?
Perhaps. After hearing all of that, it's not as unbelievable as I'd thought.
All I know is that he helped me, so I'll help him.
I strongly doubt that I shall factor into Aelfric's retrieval, but I shall follow your lead.
There it is. We owe Aelfric. Maybe your goddess doesn't care about debts, but my fists and I sure do.
Sorry to have roped you into all this, friend.
I don't mind.
We owe you. Just stick with us a bit longer, won't you?

This is great! Has me ready to get to it and start hitting things.

How cheeky. Me? Never. Although...
Ever since I was a kid, I've lived my life by one rule—that I'd only play my hand if I was guaranteed victory.
I've gotten this far by using my cunning in any way necessary—lying, cheating, even killing when there was no other way... But this next play? Well, the odds don't exactly seem to be in my favor.
Not unless you trust me enough to provide me with an ace...
Heh. Never you mind, friend. Let's just go.

...What's your game, Yuri Leclerc?
♪ No music ♪

♪ Dark Clouds Gather ♪

Oh, christ, not this prick again. Why are you here? Is Edelgard—'scuse me, the Flame Emperor—behind this shit?
My flock! Why have you come?!
To save you of course. You didn't really think we'd just up and abandon you, did ya?
If I may be so bold, we have the chalice you seek. Might I humbly request that you return Aelfric?
You found the chalice? When I told you of it, I never imagined you'd—
Let's make sure it's not some cheap imitation. Hand it over.
Not until you hand over the hostage. There needs to be some degree of a trusting exchange here.
I can see you don't understand your own predicament. We've no issue killing the lot of you and taking it either way.

Can't say I'm surprised. Thugs like this aren't about to show us any gesture of sincerity.
Yuri! Stand down! Leave me! Take the chalice and flee—you must!
It is irreplaceable—you must not hand it to these brigands!
Heh. You know us better than that. We didn't come here without a plan. Do your thing, Hapi!
Wait— Do what thing?
Seriously? Right now?
Now, Hapi!

Her sigh! She—

I've gotta say, that sigh of hers never gets old.
Yeah, yeah, glad you like the show. It's not like it's a gift I asked for.

Hahaha! Absolute cowards! How entertaining. Balthus, will you do the honors?

Hey, Balthus, quit screwing around! Oh...wow. It flew off with him.
He'll sort it out. At least we got Aelfric back in one piece. Now, to handle these fools.
Cheap party tricks! Let's make these children scream!

Did Balthus seriously just get picked up and carried by that monster, like this is a damn cartoon?
♪ As Swift as Wind ♪

Words cannot express how much I do not want to deal with Me Toady's shit again. (Spelling intentional.)

Christ, he's like a lesser enemy Petra, too.

Heartseeker: Adjacent foes suffer Avo -20 during combat.
Swordfaire: Grants Atk +5 when using a sword.
Axebreaker+: Grants Hit/Avo +30 when using a sword against axe users.
Alert Stance+: If unit takes no action except Wait, grants Avo +30 for 1 turn.
Pass: Allows unit to pass through spaces occupied by foes.

Thankfully, he's immobile, so we don't have to deal with Pass, and can outrange him with anything beyond melee attacks. Unthankfully, the fact that he's immobile means that unless I leave someone to almost certainly die by ending the turn with them in range, he'll have 83 Avo.

The other boss isn't much to write home about, beyond having a killer axe.

Axefaire: Grants Atk +5 when using an axe.
Axe Crit +10: Grants Crit +10 when using an axe.
Lancebreaker+: Grants Hit/Avo +30 when using an axe against lance users.

Outrange him, and he'll instantly melt.

Here's a better look at the map. Balthus really is stuck way the hell away from us.
♪ No music ♪

♪ The Shackled Wolves ♪

Don't go thanking me yet—we've still gotta get out of here.
Hmph. There's no time for foolish blunders when our future is at stake.

Oh well. Time to show what happens when the Awe-Inspiring King of Grappling goes all out!
How many variations on that title do you have?

Balthus cannot move without drawing too many enemies. So, let's not.

The bird's no trouble, at least. If his HP gets too low, he can just use Healing Focus.

Oh yeah, Aelfric is controllable here. He doesn't gain EXP, but he's level 34, so he can deal some nice damage.

Commander: Nullifies instant death effects, status effects, and movement effects, and greatly reduces damage from enemy gambits.

He's got Commander. Interesting.

Well, that was a lot.

Well, that was easy.

Let's hold the paladins in place.

A very Dimitri level.

Mm, I could've rewound to burn that Noa proc on Bolting, but this was my first run at the map, so I didn't feel using a Divine Pulse charge on RNG manipulation was a good idea.



Curved Shot! You betrayed me!

Damn it.

Oh no, an archer reinforcement spawned on the ballista.

I wish Hapi leveled this well in the main runs.

Aelfric's got the ever-useful Recover.

Yuri, have you gained any Str or Mag at all?

Well, that's a lot of units locked down.

Let the lesson begin!

Again? What do you take me for, a sigh servant? *sigh* *siiiigh* *siiiiiiigh*

Well, that's convenient! Once we kill the warrior boss, all enemy units (except Metodey) get rattled.

Ah, well. Perhaps I can take the treasure they found as a parting gift.

This brings me no joy.

Unnecessary? Yes. Cool? Hell yes.


Thanks for taking care of my problems for me.

Why did I do that again, in a separate map?!

Alright, we're not doing too bad.

Wow, another horseslayer.

Missing a 94, huh? Sure.

Allow me to demonstrate!

Whatever, we're near the end of CS.

Perfect opportunity for Assault Troop.

That'll hold the hero in place, too.

How many goddamn horseslayers do you guys have?


Had to rewind.

Another good chance to use Assault Troop.

A rally from Balthus gives Yuri the power needed to kill that sniper.

I'll prove myself!

My boy...!

We're pretty close to a clear now. This map isn't that hard.

0 Mt vs. 0 Hit: no-one wins.

What the fuck was that?

♪ Wrath Strike ♪

Then again, if you die, it won't matter either way!
Yes, Metodey does have dialogue if his boss fights him.
Hm-hm-hm... Can it be? Princess Edelgard!
Huh! How dare you disrespect House Hresvelg. This ends here!


Once you hit Metodey, he becomes aggressive.

I don't mind pain, but it's time to make my exit. My employer pays me more than this treasure is worth.
He's also got dialogue for if Edelgard defeats him!
I can explain, really! Please, spare me!
You're pathetic. An enemy like you is hardly worth my time.

Yes, the map's not over! I've been kiting this fortress knight so I can get the chest.

The reward is very worth it. This'll be a nice power-up for Abby.

You can die now.
♪ No music ♪

I am. All thanks to you. The Chalice—is it unharmed?
Yes, it's safe. Chatterbox is—

Nighty night!

♪ Mask of Fire ♪

Yuri! You damned scoundrel! What are you doing?!
Heh, I think you can see what I'm doing, Balthus.

It seems I was correct...that there was an enemy in our midst. To think our bird was instead a rat.
You've always had a wild imagination, Constance. I've got to say, turning your attention elsewhere was a challenge even for me.
That is enough with the banter, Yuri. I informed you not to divulge too much.
They'll all be under the dirt soon enough. It's not like they'll be able to talk at that point. After all I've gone and done for you, Aelfric, I would think you'd have just a bit more faith in me.
Your silence speaks volumes... Guess this is the end of the niceties.
It's all on you now, friend. I'm sure you and the others will figure it out.

I made it out unscathed.
Impossible. Surely you suffered a wound.
I didn't.
Teach, there's no time for playing around. Tell us how— Ah, I get it. He only pretended to attack you, didn't he?
So you were just playing a part in this grand performance. But was that really the smartest decision here?
The chalice and the Ashen Wolves are gone. I am loath to think what will become of them without our help.
And how do you propose we pursue them? We haven't a clue where they went.
Well, we know what they're after. That at least narrows down the possibilities.

Lady Rhea? Why have you come?
After sending all of you off, I began to investigate the lineage of the Ashen Wolves. In doing so, I was able to confirm that the documented information about their Crests was falsified.
What was once a wild speculation, I now know to be true. The Crests they bear are the same as those of the Four Apostles—the very same who long ago enacted the Rite of Rising.
Once the blood of the four is poured upon the chalice, its power can be harnessed. I believe we have enough evidence to assume that our Ashen Wolves will suffice to carry out this ritual.
So Aelfric's aim must be to carry out the Rite of Rising...at the expense of the students...
Lady Rhea... What, precisely, is the purpose of this ritual?
We've heard it has the power to resurrect life, but that can't be true... Can it?

So those wild tales are true. It really can bring someone back to life.
Not exactly. It can breathe life into a body, but it cannot return a spirit that has already departed. Ultimately, it is a tool to return the goddess to her physical form. Her spirit is omnipresent, but her flesh is no more.
Such incredible power is truly awe inspiring—and extremely dangerous. In that way, it is akin to the Heroes' Relics. For this reason, the Four Apostles were never intended to pass down their Crests. This gathering should never have been possible.
The Ashen Wolves are now gathered together, making it possible once more.
And Aelfric is at the center of this mess, luring them all to Abyss for his own selfish reasons. Without so much as a whisper of it to the church, of course.
This incident is my own doing. I never should have entrusted the chalice to them.
Lady Rhea, do you have any idea where they could have gone?

Holding such a ritual requires absolute focus, so I imagine the setting would need to be serene, peaceful.
There are countless such places within the monastery walls...
The Holy Mausoleum?
It's certainly peaceful there, but due to last month's incident, it's heavily guarded at present.
For now, let us return to the monastery. There is much to consider.

You look troubled, Alois. What has happened?
Thieves have breached Garreg Mach's village walls! They've been pillaging the shops and residences, taking whatever they please!
I wonder if this has anything to do with Aelfric.
There's no telling, but for now, their numbers are too great. They need the knights! By your will, Lady Rhea, allow us to clear the village of these hooligans!
Yes, Alois. Please ensure the safety of the villagers immediately. However, leave a few of your best knights here with me.
Yes, Your Grace. I'll see to it.

I do. It's about Yuri...
He told you to meet up with him at the Holy Mausoleum? You never run out of secrets, do ya, Teach?
I'm certain that Yuri had his reasons for setting up this meeting.
He took the time to speak with you, however cryptically, before he left.
Fair point, Dimitri. I do wonder why he told you it needed to be after midnight. Wouldn't it be better to rush to their aid immediately?
Yuri's no fool. There's a method to his madness...

Godsdammit godsdammit godsdammit!

Next time: the Rite of Rising.

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