This chapter begins immediately after the conclusion of Chapter 16; thus, the player cannot exit the battle, save prior to starting it, or advance any supports. The player can, however, move inventories around and reselect units. Any unit hurt in the previous chapter will not retain their injuries, giving the player a complete fresh start for this map.
Immediately after the end of Chapter 16, The Avatar and their group are shocked by the sudden appearance of Iago and his army. The Avatar thinks they should retreat, but Azura states that, if they flee, they may never get another chance to enter the Bottomless Canyon. Ryoma reassures the Avatar that they can defeat the army, and calls on them to cast off their worries and fight on. The group begins yet another battle.
As even more reinforcements appear, the Avatar once again doubts their confidence. Suddenly, Xander and Leo come to their aid, with Leo taking pleasure in the thought of removing Iago. The Avatar asks them why they changed their mind, only for Xander to dismiss it and rally them to keep moving forward. Iago is disgruntled at the two's defection, though he still intends to complete Garon's mission regardless. Later on, Odin, Niles, Laslow and Peri catch up to their lieges, Xander and Leo introduces the four as their retainers, and they are on their sides.
Once Iago and his troops are slayed, Elise and Camilla celebrate having the entire royal family together again. Leo begins to patronize the Hoshidan family, only for Xander to urge him not to think in terms of "us" and "them". Leo quickly apologizes, and then Xander tells Avatar of Garon's madness. Leo remarks on the Avatar's words in Izumo, that he believed that Garon had changed, and that he hadn't taken them to heart until having seen it for himself. He then apologizes for calling them a traitor, and they forgive him. Xander states that, in his current state, Garon is a threat to Nohr itself, and that it is in his best interest to follow the Avatar.
With that, Ryoma proposes a truce between Hoshido and Nohr, remarking on his and Xander's similar end goals. Xander accepts his truce, and the two princes shake hands, making the peace between, to the surprise of Takumi and Leo, but to joy of Sakura and Elise. Azura commends the Avatar for their decision, and she thanks them all for cooperating. With both Hoshido and Nohr on thier side, Azura urges for them to all go to the Bottomless Canyon so that she and the Avatar can finally explain their motives.
It may be tempting to divide your units into two groups on this map, which will make clearing the chapter faster. In Lunatic, however this could increase the risk of losing a unit substantially and may result in the player restarting from Chapter 16 again. To mitigate this risk, keep all units together.
Odin, Niles, Laslow and Peri may be a liability on this chapter due to their low level, especially in Classic Mode; though this can also be annoying in Casual Mode, and sometimes even in Phoenix Mode if the player is either inexperienced or unlucky. However, ensure to keep them with the group as you do not want them to be cut down by enemy reinforcements, and an astute enough player may even be able to level them up enough for promotion. Pairing them up with other characters might be a solution.
The Cavaliers, Paladins and Great Knights on the right side of the map will charge towards you from turn 1. Ensure to have your highest defense characters lead the front line. It may be safer to pair them with other units in defensive stance to ensure their survival. Once these enemy units are taken care of, advance carefully to the boss to end the chapter. Keep in mind that enemy reinforcements will pour out of the enemy strongholds when only when a playable unit enters a certain part of the map. So caution should be exercised when advancing.
There are two strategies to approach this map. One is to unite Xander's and Leo's forces to the main army as soon as possible, and the other one is to use them to advance downwards from the upper right corner of the map. Both tactics have their own merits and shortcomings. Uniting the army may look safer and gives you the option of interchange units between two fronts while also allowing Xander's team access to healers. However, it also means you will be playing in pursuit for a few turns and even if you manage to unite with the main army, they will be stuck in a pincer attack between cavaliers and knights, which might not be favorable if the main army lacks manpower.
Advancing Xander's troops down the right side of the map is recommended on normal difficulty because the horsemen are few with sparse formation (compared to the knights on the left) which is easier to pick apart. The right side of the map also have a fair composition of plains and forest terrains which you can use for Elbow Room and cover respectively according to your needs. However, advancing on two fronts means Xander's team will not have access to any healer and their retainers might see little use without healers. Also a problem that few people address is focus. Advancing on two fronts sometimes can cost too much of your attention and you will be more likely to make tiny mistakes such as positioning units on the wrong side of the enemy or putting a unit on a spot that's exposed to attacks from multiple enemies, which happens easily if you overestimate Leo's Brynhildr.
Regardless of the approach you take, make sure to use your newly acquired big brothers to bait the enemy. Ryoma can act as an evasive tank while Xander's defense can shrug off most attacks on this map. Worrying about EXP distribution might cost you this chapter as well as the previous one so keep this in mind. Both the knights and cavaliers advance in groups of 3-4, so make sure you stockpile your units to intercept. A favorable move would be using your ranged units to soften the front and using your melee units to deal the finishing blow from up close to slowly advance while reconstituting your (hopefully durable) front line.
The ballista and magic orb are not to be taken lightly also. The magic orb would be the main army's first priority as it's area attack can cost you dearly. Flying units and any non-tanky units should be kept well away from the ballista reach because they are more effective than what you might initially think. Use the forts to safely advance your big brothers and take the Bow Knights out as soon as possible. Everything in this chapter boils down to advancing slowly and capturing the ballista, after which the chapter is effectively won because the Generals and Iago can't provide as much threat as the rest of the map.
The script for this chapter can be found here.
- During the first turn of this map, the music track plays the Vanity Judge, but after Xander and Leo join during the second turn, it changes to A Dark Fall.