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Frederick: Mercenaries, from the look. Rival bands squabbling over some petty matter. A common enough sight in these dark times, milord. But, if it comes to bloodletting, the nearby villages will pay for it.
Chrom: Then let's make sure it doesn't.”
—Chrom and Frederick
Rival Bands (Mercenary Conflict in the Japanese version) is Paralogue 13 of Fire Emblem Awakening. The chapter takes place in Law's End. The map will appear once Panne has obtained an S support with a male character.
In this paralogue, two forces are fighting each other: the Stonewall Knights and the Riders of Dawn. The player can choose to ally with the Knights, ally with the Riders, or fight both sides. Depending on the player's choice, the opposing force will change. Allying with neither results in greater after-battle rewards, and the ability to visit all 4 villages during the map.
There are four villages on the map. Depending on your allegiances, you will receive the following items:
- Upper Left: Beast Killer (locked if allied with Riders of Dawn)
- Upper Right: Dracoshield (locked if allied with Riders of Dawn)
- Lower Left: Energy Drop (locked if allied with Stonewall Knights)
- Lower Right: Hammer (locked if allied with Stonewall Knights)
Note: All villages can be visited if the player chose to fight both groups.
Subjective: The following part of this article is based upon the editor's personal experiences and opinions, and therefore may not be applicable for all readers.
Given your options this map can play out in one of three ways. The first two ways are good for those who do not wish to grind levels or do not want to take on a prolonged battle. The last way is excellent for grinding levels and to receive the maximum amount of rewards, although that version is significantly harder.
- Aligning with the Stonewall Knights means that you can talk to Yarne quickly without risking the Stonewall Knights from attacking you after you do so. The downside with that is that the Riders of Dawn, who have better movement than the Stonewall Knights, can swarm your army much more easily. The easiest remedy for this is to have Panne with Beastbane equipped or have units with Beast Killers for effective damage. A Beast Killer can be obtained from the village near Gyral. Upon allying with the Stonewall Knights, the Riders of Dawn will call for reinforcements in the form of Paladins, Bow Knights and Valkyries. After defeating the Riders of Dawn, the Stonewall Knights will reward Chrom's army with 500 gold for each allied unit remaining.
- Aligning with the Riders of Dawn makes talking to Yarne slightly harder, since the Stonewall Knights are right next to him. There should not be much trouble getting him away from them as they lack the mobility that the Riders of Dawn have. Magic units are extremely useful to take them down since they will have low resistance. Armorslayers and Hammers also work nicely to take them down and a village will provide a Hammer if needed. Upon allying with the Riders of Dawn, the Stonewall Knight-aligned villages will send out reinforcements in the form of Generals, Swordmasters and Sages. After defeating the Stonewall Knights, the Riders of Dawn will reward Chrom's army with 500 gold for each allied unit remaining.
- Choosing not to align with either army will put you against both armies at the same time, although Chrom will ask if you really want to fight with both of them twice. Upon saying yes the second time he asks you, both mercenary groups will send out their reinforcements, totaling for a staggering amount of 47 enemies on the map that need to be cleared. Both sides will not fight with each other despite the rivalry they have. One strategy is to focus on eliminating one group, the Stonewall Knights, while the Riders of Dawn struggle in approaching your group because of the forests decreasing their movement. Alternatively, it could also be a good idea to stay in the forests unless the player has high Avoid, as the forests lower the enemies' accuracy. Despite the increased difficulty, the rewards will be much better; the player can visit all four villages, gain two Bullion (M) rather then one, and upon routing all of the enemies the player will receive 10,000 gold from the villagers, which is slightly better then allying with either side as they will most likely suffer casualties fighting the enemy.
- Two of the villages show some sort of loyalty to the mercenary groups; the lower right village supports the Riders of Dawn group while the upper-left village supports the Stonewall Knights. The other two villages seem to fear both groups because of their consistent fighting; this is shown if the player decides to fight both groups and upon routing the enemy, a villager is pleased, since both groups were nothing more than common brigands.
- If the player decides to fight both of groups, both weapon-giving villages still tell the player to kill the other mercenary group.
- At the beginning of the fight, the player is allied with the Riders of Dawn, while their enemies are the Stonewall Knights. This changes after the player has made their preparations and decides who to join.
- When the player is choosing who to ally with, Dalen, leader of the Riders of Dawn, states that he would pay twice what the leader of the Stonewall Knights would. However, they both reward you with 500 gold.
- In the original Japanese script, Dalen does not make such an offer.
- If Gyral and Dalen end up in a battle with one another, this special dialogue will appear:
- Dalen: I'll send your fat men and their fat-man armour sailing through the sky!
- Gyral: Horse and rider both will be smears across our shields!
- The Riders of Dawn's name may be a reference to Luke who refers to himself as the "Paladin of Dawn" in Prologue 2 of New Mystery of the Emblem.