Update 98: Spherical

♪ A Promise ♪

Your Highness, you sound so detached. We are all encouraged to enjoy the ball tomorrow.
Right you are. What a burden...
Huh. I never thought we'd see eye to eye, but I agree. I'd rather be swinging my blade than wasting my time with some girl at a ball.
Felix! Your Highness! You must be joking, right? This is our chance to dance with all of the ladies of the academy to our heart's content.
You wish to throw away the best day of the whole year for sword practice? Insanity, I tell you!
I'm pretty excited about the ball, myself. It's not like we get to do things like this very often.
Too true, Ashe. In fact, I'm gonna do you a favor and give you a crash course in chatting up girls. By tomorrow, you'll be an expert!
Actually I'd much prefer if someone could just teach me how to dance... But there's so much to remember... Not just dancing, but ball etiquette too.
Don't worry about the dancing part. I can teach you that, easy!
It's time for the ball! That warrants at least a tiny bit of makeup, don't you think, Ingrid? Just a smidge?
I...hmm. Maybe. I'll think about it.
It's settled! Tomorrow morning we'll meet up in Ingrid's room. Ooh, I can't wait!
Hahaha. You know... There's no telling where life will take us after we leave here. If only we could find a way to come together again, just like this...
A fine notion, Your Highness. Perhaps five years from now?
Five years from now? Ah! That's when Garreg Mach Monastery will be holding its millennium festival.
By then we'll be addressing Your Highness as Your Majesty instead!
That's right. I suppose we all know it's coming, but by then you'll be far removed from us.
Come now. You know me better than that. My title may change, but I won't.
And it won't just be me, you know. Five years from now, you'll all have your own stuffy positions to contend with. Five years from now, we'll all have our own stuffy positions to contend with. But as I understand it, the festivities at the millennium festival will be of a scale far beyond anything we've yet seen...
In other words, the perfect excuse for all of us to return here.
Ooh, a reunion? That sounds fun! I wouldn't miss it for the world!

I'll be there.
Good. Then it's settled.
Of course...if something happens and I'm not able to attend, I'm leaving all of the logistics of organizing this reunion to you, Professor.
You have to attend.
It's true! I'm sure being a king will keep you busy, but it's a bit early to be backing out of your own plans, don't you think?
Yes... I suppose you're right.
I'm sorry. You have my word. I will return as well. Count on it.

♪ The Night of the Ball ♪

Remember this scene from all the way back in Silver Snow? Remember how it lasted for maybe three dialogue boxes? It's much longer when you're leading the Blue Lions.
I understand. You hardly had the time to breathe in there. It must be hard to be the favorite teacher at the ball! Poor, poor Professor!
It is difficult.
So you do think you're the favorite! I might have known.

Aren't you going to dance with Claude?
Haha, good one, Professor. I could see saving a dance for Edelgard, but Claude is another story.
In any case, I have no intention of dancing with anyone.
As a child, Edelgard taught me how to dance. It was...a bit awkward, honestly.
As a child?
I've told you before that we're siblings by marriage, haven't I? Her birth mother was my stepmother, although I didn't know that at the time. My stepmother treated me with such kindness...just as though I were her own flesh and blood. And yet she never so much as hinted that she had her own child...Edelgard. We were born and raised in different territories, without ever knowing the other even existed. Yet, against all odds, for just over a year, we became childhood friends.
Indeed. Unaware of each other's stations or backgrounds, we met and became incredibly close. This was when she and Lord Arundel were living in the Kingdom.
Why were they in the Kingdom?
They were in exile... This was a time of great turmoil within the Empire. I ran into her when visiting Lord Arundel's residence with my father. She seemed...quite bored. With everything.
At first I found her to be difficult and stubborn, but that facade quickly fell away, revealing her true self beneath...
That's around the time when she taught me how to dance. Her instruction was... Oh, let's call it strict. To put it nicely.

You're supposed to lead with your right!
El, the sun's going down! I really oughta be heading home...
That one year before she had to return to the Empire was...so much fun. The time of my life, in many ways.
For whatever reason, Edelgard's line here got condensed in a patch. The original line was...
Wrong foot, Dimitri! You're supposed to lead with your right!
I have absolutely no idea why this edit was made. It's by far the most inexplicable dialogue change made by any patch.

One more thing before I let the scene resume: child Edelgard and child Dimitri, strangely, have blushing portraits, normally reserved for playable units. They also lack angry portraits, making them two of the four characters with expressions who break the normal pattern of neutral (0), happy (1), angry (2), sad (3), surprised (4), and for playable units, blushing (5). The others include Part 1 Jeritza (only neutral and happy, the latter of which I'm pretty sure is unused), and a character we'll meet in Crimson Flower.

There's actually a very large amount of portraits in 3H that are just straight-up never used, most likely created to follow the standard portrait pattern and then just never needed. These include portraits that would be incredibly odd in any context presented in the finished game, such as Nemesis's happy portrait. There's an even greater number of portraits that are used only once. Maybe I should figure out exactly what portraits meet these criteria one of these—

Ahem, right, the ball.
It's kind of pathetic to think about it all these years later, but can you guess what I gave her as a parting gift?

One of these does not belong.
A dagger?
Huh. Good guess, Professor. But I swear, it came from the heart.
In Faerghus, we've long considered blades as tools of destiny. As a way to cut a path to a better future. She was being dragged all over, unable to live the life she wanted. I thought the dagger could help her cut a path to the future she dreamed of. However...that was many years ago. I'm sure she's forgotten all about the boy I was back then.
It's not too late to reconnect.
I'm afraid it's far too late for that. Things are different now. She's different. I'm different.
Anyway... I'm feeling a bit out of place here. Festivities like this don't suit me.
Still, I suppose I should get back in there. Good-bye, Professor.
But where is there to run? This place is filled with joyful students looking for a dance. Ah... I see. The Goddess Tower waits for you...

Sothis's line at the end there is a bit of a non-sequitur, no? Well, it makes more context when you consider that Dimitri's last line changes if he's the unit selected for the Goddess Tower scene, either manually by the player, or automatically by the game.
Professor... Will you join me for a bit? You must be getting a bit tired of the ball by now.
But where is there to run? This place is filled with joyful students looking for a dance. Ah... I see. The Goddess Tower waits for you...
Makes more sense now, doesn't it?

Anyway, up in the Goddess Tower, we meet...

Ghost?! Is it a ghost?! Don't eat me!
Calm down, it's OK.
It'll eat the skin right off my bones and no one will ever— Huh? Oh, it's you, Professor. What a relief.
You can relax now.
Right. I'm better now. Thanks. But try not to scare me like that again, please... With the ball happening tonight, I was sure there wouldn't be anyone here. And from far off, you look... Well, you kinda have a spooky silhouette.
I guess you haven't heard the legend?
Adan explains the legend of the Goddess Tower.
Oh, so if a couple swears a vow on the night of the ball, the goddess grants their wish? That's amazing! Is it true? I guess that's the sort of thing you miss when you spend all your time avoiding people.
But wouldn't it be nice to spend some time alone with a nice guy in this lonely tower, cut off from all the rest of the world?
Oh, Professor! Since you're here and all, could I ask you for a favor? As you probably know by now, it's my lifelong dream to live in solitude forever... So could you help me to swear that vow?
Nice try.
Saw right through me, huh? Guess you're right. It probably wouldn't work out so well for me, would it? Ah, well. No use complaining.
Actually, I'm happy I got to see you here tonight. Even if it was just by coincidence.
Would you mind staying a little longer?
It's nice and quiet, and the sky's really pretty. I quite like the atmosphere. On a night like this, being out in the open doesn't seem so bad...

Then we watched Rhea sing the Song of the Nabateans for the third time.
♪ A Guide for the Future ♪

The paralogues gave us some supports to go through.

Dimitri/Felix B.
♪ Calm Winds Over Gentle Waters ♪

And here I thought you had no desire to speak with me.
We don't need to speak to clash swords, do we?
I suppose not. Is that one new?
Wait! Where did you get such a blade?
Hmph! I suppose you would recognize its value. I came upon a merchant selling weapons and found this among the rest of the steel.
That pattern around the edge... There's no doubt. It was forged by Zoltan, the master swordsmith!
I'm not giving it to you.
Huh? Oh, I'm just happy to have laid eyes on it. I don't suppose you'd allow me the chance to hold it?
Do you take me for a fool? I'm not letting a brute like you swing it around.
As though I would be careless with something so valuable.

Come now, that was so long ago! I'm hardly the fool I was then.
Heh. So you say, yet House Fraldarius still told that story for years.
What's wrong, Felix?
How pointless. No use talking about someone who's long dead.
Looking at your face is making me angry. I'm going to find a different training partner.
Farewell, Your Beastliness.

Wow, Felix seemed to actually have...a fond memory of Dimitri in the past? Kinda sad that he can't enjoy it without—

Oh. Okay.

So, Dimitri/Felix B just...gives you a free sword of Zoltan, which you can only get one of otherwise—except for Crimson Flower, where you get none.
♪ A Guide for the Future ♪

Dimitri/Marianne B.
♪ Calm Winds Over Gentle Waters ♪

Oh. Yes?
May I sit here? There isn't another open spot...
Um, you may.

No, it's fine. About the other day, when you said you didn't regret risking your own life...
I apologize for whatever foolish thing I said to upset you, truly. But...may I ask what happened?
It's just... There is only misfortune for anyone who comes near me.
I'm afraid so. Especially those with complete disregard for their own safety.
Ah, so I didn't offend you. You're trying to tell me I should be more concerned for my own safety. Well, I suppose I could improve in that regard. As for you causing misfortune, I think that's far from the truth. In fact, I find you to be a lucky charm of sorts.
Me? Lucky? I'm sorry, but I don't agree with that at all. My entire life up until this point has been nothing but a string of unfortunate events.
But misfortune finds us all. Perhaps those around you have suffered or even perished, but look at you. You're still here, alive and well.
It doesn't feel good, does it...to be the one left behind? You feel guilt for not dying along with the others.
H-how did you know?
You and I are the same. Maybe you should fear being cursed with misfortune for coming near me.
Ah, a smile and a laugh. Coming from you, that's a rarity. This must be my lucky day.
I just find the idea amusing.
It's strange to think that someone like you could have anything in common with me.
Is it so terrible a thought?
No, no. It's not that. It actually makes me happy.

♪ A Guide for the Future ♪

Dimitri and Marianne's support is very good.

Dedue/Mercedes B.
♪ A Gentle Breeze ♪

So, the sky god got into an argument with the earth god, then Duscur was created?
To oversimplify it somewhat, yes.
There's something so mysterious about it. There are only mountains separating us from Duscur, but it's like a completely different world. This has been so interesting. I've never learned so much about it before!
There are not many left to pass on the legends of Duscur.
Really? That's a shame.
It's almost like when someone dies, or a family line ends. I think a place is only truly destroyed when there's no one left to remember it. You should tell more people about Duscur to keep it alive.
That is a strange thing to say.
Oh? Why do you think that?
Duscur is forever the enemy of Faerghus. No one cares about our culture or history.
I'm different though. I don't know anyone who was killed by the people of Duscur. I don't hold a grudge against you and I never have.
Um, Dedue? Is this recipe from Duscur?
You don't care for it?
No, no! I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Would you teach me how to make it soon?
But it seems I am ever the teacher with you, and seldom the student.
You're right. I'm so sorry. Ah! I have an idea!
My mother taught me to bake the perfect sweets to go with tea. Would you like to learn how to bake them?
It's a secret Martritz family recipe that's been passed down for generations!
House Martritz of the Empire? I thought they were no more.
It's true. My father's family was wiped out in the Empire. I'm the last living descendant.
Are you certain you wish to impart such precious memories to me?
Of course! Now that my family's gone, I'm the only one who knows the secret!
The sweets would vanish from Fódlan if something happened to me.
I see your point. Yes, I would like to learn.

♪ A Guide for the Future ♪

Ashe and Bernadetta become snipers—promotions well-earned. That's a very nice Def increase on Ashe.

Hapi becomes a valkyrie.

Constance does as well. Ultimately, I prefer Valkyrie to Dark Flier, even if Valkyrie lacks Black Tomefaire.

Lysithea also becomes a warlock, more for the stat boosts and growth rate increases than anything. She can't benefit from Black Tomefaire or Black Magic Uses x2, remember.

The class change comes with some pretty significant defensive increases.

Let's go kill some monsters.
♪ As Swift as Wind ♪

The story scene doesn't change based on route, so we'll just head straight into things.

Maddening adds two extra monsters, impeding our progress through both the west and east paths, in addition to just adding a lot more HP for us to have to deplete.

The monster-exterminating squad, decided entirely by "what units still need to get to level 20?"
♪ No music ♪

Never met a monster whose HP bars I couldn't wipe out. Let's roll.
♪ Tearing Through Heaven ♪

[Byleth-2] No hesitation!

Strong start.


Defenseless, are we?

Try this on for size!

Jesus christ, Ingrid, you've impressed me, calm down.

Oh, Raph...

At least the monster moved to a better spot.

Pure grit!

All that for one bar of HP...

At least I got one (1) piece of umbral steel out of it.

See ya!


Ffffffffffffuck I forgot about that. The students are much weaker on Maddening than on Hard—they only have +2 to all of their stats, compared to the significant stat buffs the enemies have.

Thankfully, the students still have elixirs.

Wow, three pieces of umbral steel. The game's being so generous.

Can't kill the monster on this turn, but it's definitely going down next turn.

Let's see you dodge this!

That's two armor tiles.


A dangerous combat forecast, but...

Open wide!

It worked out.

Do keep an eye on Jeralt. For the most part, he can take care of himself, but if he rides too far ahead of you, it is possible for him to get unlucky and bite it—remember, Jeralt dying is a defeat condition.

You're finished!

Ingrid's going to be a fucking terror once she becomes a wyvern rider.

Well, the monsters are closer to me now, at least.

And now that one's suffering -6 Str/Def.

Too slow!

The wo dao+ let Yuri function as a weapon user. It lets Felix tear through enemies like tissue paper.

That's two 70% chance whiffs.

See ya!

Balthus is slow as hell, sadly, but his Str and Def are quite good.

That Blaze will leave the monster with just one weakened armor tile. It also draws

Unfortuantely, I couldn't kill the monster.

Since I couldn't kill the monster, and it got to use its staggering blow, all of its armor tiles fully regenerated.

Marvelous! Marvelous level!

Time to pay!

Thank you, Leonie.

I should really heal Jeralt.

One HP bar...


Okay, no, I'm not putting up with this.

I'd have liked Balthus to get the EXP instead, but I'm finishing this.

Is that all?!

♪ No music ♪

Come to me, sweet Str booster.

♪ The Dream is Over ♪

It's weird to think that this scene had such an impact on me when I first played the game. Seeing it so many times on so many later playthroughs has really dulled its impact.

♪ A Lonely Figure ♪

This scene, much like the ball scene earlier, changes significantly if you've chosen the Blue Lions. I'll skip to the divergence point.

And after your audience, why don't you join me at the dining hall? You haven't eaten since...since it happened. Have you?
Forgive me... I suppose it's too soon to try and coax you back into the normal swing of things.
As for what happened to Jeralt... I'm so sorry. I'm sorry I couldn't do anything to stop it.
Stay here until you've found some peace. I'll cover for you with Lady Rhea and everyone else.
Thank you.
We'll be waiting for you whenever you're ready to return to us. I don't believe it's a sign of strength to just keep moving forward no matter what.

That said... It's also important to remember that no matter how sad you are, eventually your tears will dry up. That's when you have to figure out what it is you're living for. Then you can cling to that, with all your might, and start moving forward again.
What I'm living for?
Four years ago, in Duscur, I experienced the same pain you're feeling now. My father...was the strongest man I knew. Someone I loved and admired deeply. That day, he was killed before my eyes. His head severed clean off. My stepmother, the kindest person I had ever known, left me behind and disappeared into the infernal flames.
Everyone who I considered precious...my family and my closest friends...I couldn't save any of them. Not a single one.
Now, the burden of the work they left behind falls on me. I must ensure they have no regrets. That's my duty, as the sole survivor of the tragedy.
It's a heavy burden, but accepting it gave me the strength to pick myself up off the ground and start moving again. Start living again. Jeralt is gone... So, what will you do now, Professor? What must you do? Look deep in your heart and I'm certain you'll find the answer there...indelible and inescapable. I've probably bothered you enough for today, but I have just one more thought to leave you with. Even now, Seteth is gathering the knights to begin a full scale search for the enemy. It may not be right away, but before long they will find their trail.

This book is filled with secrets yet unknown. We must return another time to read the rest. Oh, but I have at least figured one thing out. I know now why our fates are intertwined...

"Taking the time to grieve for those we've lost...there's strength in that too." What a powerful sentiment...

Next time: the Agarthan ambush.

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