Music: Cobbleston, Nestled in the Hills

This is the small village of Cobblestone, and to the left is our next character, albeit in different clothes than in the character select screen.

Hold fast, Philip. I'm coming for you.

Olberic's story probably has the most meat in it besides Primrose's. It doesn't hurt that Olberic's voice actor embraces the melodrama and that his writing is almost over-the-top in how brooding he is, as you'll see shortly.

At any rate, let's begin!

Video: The Battle of Hornburg

Music: Tension

We go back to the titular Battle of Hornburg, to witness how Olberic fell into the life he lives today.

Olberic takes out a soldier with minimal effort.

Gods have mercy... That's the Unbending Blade of Hornburg!

It's you who'll be dyin'. Look about you - we have the numbers!

About that...

Bah! It matters not. We're done here.

For now, we have won.

Nothing I couldn't handle. Can you hold this position?
You make for His Majesty's camp, sir?
Just so. Our foe attacked from both flanks, but we have no orders from the crown. This...concerns me.
His Majesty is well guarded, sir...

There is no stronger knight in the realm. Other than yourself, of course, m'lord. With Sir Erhardt at his side, surely His Majesty is in no danger...?
Perhaps not. But we must be certain. I would know how the battle unfolds. Besides, word from the king always lifts the men's spirits.
As you wish, sir. We will hold this ground.

And yours, Sir Olberic.


His Majesty's own guard...slain, to the last man. Who could have done such a thing?

Music: Creeping Dread

Erhardt! What is the meaning of this!?

What... What have you done!?


...No madness here. But call it treachery, if you will.

Brothers, indeed. How many times did we cross swords like this in the practice yards? And how many times have I told you? I see your every move, your every strike before it falls.
As I see yours!

Video: Always the Same Dream


Turns out it was all a dream of painful memories past. Of course it was. That's all JRPG protagonists ever dream about.


Turns out one of the local youths is nearby.

No, I am no knight. Just a man with a sword, and nothing more...

Olberic is kind of bad about hiding his tragic past. Luckily the other villagers don't seem to mind and/or care.

Music: Bonds of Friendship

Oh, I almost forgot, sir! The headman's lookin' for ya. Says he wants a word. He didn't say about what.
Tell him I'm on my way.
Yes, sir! I'll go on ahead and let him know, sir. He'll be in the square - you know the one.

(After a time, I came to this village. Here I earn my keep as a hired sword, hiding behind another man's name. Defending the villagers from bandit raids, teaching young men how to handle a blade - not a glamorous life, but it puts food on my plate. A man like me knows only the battlefield. Worth only as much as the blade at my side, and the arm that swings it.)

(For years I've asked myself that question. No answer still - at least, not one I like.)

Olberic's a massive ham. His main story hook is trying to find a purpose in life after failing his king and having nothing left but his skill with a blade. He milks his tragic backstory for every ounce it's worth, and to the voice actor's credit he embraces this and makes all of Olberic's lines as overdramatic as possible, which makes his battle lines all the more fantastic. But that's for the next update when we tackle the boss.

For now, we need to visit the headman.

Music: Cobbleston, Nestled in the Hills

As Olberic exits his home, a couple of locals approach him.

Dawn patrol, sir. Nothing to report!
Good to hear it.

Aye, sir. Headman thought it best. There's brigands in the hills of late.
Poor merchant gutted for his coinpurse just yesterday. Was a grisly sight, sir.
These are dangerous times. One can never be too careful.

Ah, he mentioned that, sir. He should still be over in the square.

Bandits about, eh? That certainly sounds bad.

No matter, for now our priority is with the headman.

Morning to you both. Philip said you wanted to speak to me.
Yes, yes. I'll get straight to the point. We've had reports of bandits in the hills.
I see you've doubled the patrols.
Yes... I was also hoping to ask for your aid. With bandits lurking, the villagers daren't venture into the hills. We cannot check the traps, nor collect firewood...

Leave it to me. Where can I find these thieves?
As for the precise location of their den, I fear I cannot say. I sent some of the men out searching, but...

Consider it done.

If he is willing, so am I.
Oh, he's more than willing, sir. I assure you. Been pesterin' me for weeks to ask you!
That's a brave lad! The boy has pluck, and ambition. And he could find a worse man to look up to than Berg here.

It's just...the boy's getting to that age, when he needs a father.

This is meant as a gasp of surprise and awkwardness. For bits without full voice acting, each character may have a random line or grunt before each text bubble that portrays the spirit of that line. Olberic's in particular are pretty wordy and as dramatic as his spoken dialogue.

If it were louder I would've bothered capturing it as a MP4.

Your boy is already a credit to the village.

You are too kind, sir.
It's settled, then. Train the lad well, and see that he does his mother proud.
I will.

After that scene, the two patrolmen from earlier pop up behind us.

And now we get to do Olberic's Path Action, Challenge. Olberic can choose to Challenge a character to a duel, and if he wins he knocks them out. There's usually no real incentive for doing so, but this can knock away NPCs guarding a home, or can resolve certain Side Stories, and later on some NPCs may have rare drops if you're inclined to grind those.

And Olberic can Challenge a surprising amount of NPCs. For instance, he can beat up the Headman and Philip's Mother if I wanted. And I may do so later...

For now, though, let's focus on training these two fellows here.

You get a general and vague Strength gauge to work with. Luckily, there's no penalty for losing a duel with Challenge, though there is if you use H'aanit's Path Action of Provoke.

Music: Battle I

NPC Challenge Duels are just like any other battle, except only Olberic is involved.

Olberic favors the sword and also uses the spear. His two starting skills include a target-all sword attack and an attack self-buff.

This battle is trivial, as this NPC is weak to both of Olberic's weapons.

Very weak, it turns out.

And you still get rewards for beating these poor saps up.

You attack with boldness, but you leave yourself open. And so a simple counterblow quickly strikes you down. You must remember - balance in all things.
Balance, right. I'll try to remember that, sir.

Next up is this fellow.

While the other NPC only attacks, this one only Defends. NPCs can have tricks up their sleeves besides basic attacks.

Olberic strikes this fool down regardless.

Music: Cobbleston, Nestled in the Hills

You are too hesitant. It is important to protect yourself, this is true... But you will never win a fight if you lack the courage to strike.
If you say so, sir...

Was just thinkin' that myself, sir.
Better than the sum of our parts, eh, sir?

Olberic may be good with a blade, but he's also a good teacher that can size up others' strengths and weaknesses. Even with that short training session, these two are already much better prepared than they would've been otherwise.

Something the matter, sir?
...What? No, sorry. It's a fine idea. Train together, and you will be capable soldiers one day.

Yes, good. If you would.

You are not ready yet. You need to work on your form.

Do the drills as I showed you, and you'll be sparring soon enough. You have talent, lad.
I do?
Not many boys your age take to the sword so quickly. And I've trained my share.
Crivens! Th-thank you, sir.

Mother's looked after me ever since. All on her own, sir. But soon...soon I'll be a man grown! And it'll be my turn to take care of her!
She is a lucky woman to have a son so brave.
So you see why I've got to get stronger, sir!


Are you brooding internally again? Crivens, save the monologuing for the voiced cutscenes, sir!

I will, sir!

i.e. We need to find a way to transition to some action.

There we go.

Music: Tension

Brigands from the hills!

Just a quick jaunt to the action...

We outnumber 'em! Surround 'em!
Stick a blade in their backs 'fore the boss finds out swineherds slowed us down!
Do your worst, you brutes!
You'll not be getting past us!

Good work, men. You did well to hold them off.

And who in the hells are you supposed to be?
He's a bleedin' fool if he thinks he can take us all.

So ye's got a fancy blade, eh? I know yer sort, hedge knight. I've cut down my share o' yer betters.

But if you've come looking for've found it.


Finally, someone speaking my language.

Music: Battle I

Three on one seems unfair, but...

...this is Olberic we're talking about.

One fully-charged Level Slash weakens them significantly, allowing for easy pickings from there.

Music: Tension

Ye can handle a blade, aye. But this ain't the end o' it. When the boss hears 'bout this, yer a dead man, ye hear?
We'll see about that, won't we?


The bandit uses the distraction to take off. There are more pressing matters at hand anyway...

Music: An Ill Omen

My poor Philip... He was trying to protect me, but those...those animals...!

It doesn't matter now! We have to save the lad!
We know where they are now. Holed up in a cave, deep in the mountains.
Then let's go! Gods only know what they'll do to him...

But, sir! We have to do something! They might kill the boy!
If you leave now, who will protect the village when the thieves return? would be playing right into their hands.
...Gods a'mercy. Is there nothing we can do, sir?

Alone!? But, sir, even you...!
You stay and guard the village. At least until you're sure they're not coming back.


Consider it done.

Music: Cobbleston, Nestled in the Hills

Come on Professor Albright, he needs our help!

Of course! Allow us to assist you in any way we can.

It would be my honor to call you a comrade.

And with that, we finally have a full four-person party.

After the usual upgrades, it's time to head out.

It's surely most dangerous, sir. Best prepare well afore settin' out.

Music: The Highlands

This is a decently-long winding path up the peak.

Most of the usual foes from before, all still very flammable.

Along the way, I pick up Hired Help. I'll show this off in the boss video. I mainly opted for this because the next boss uses a lot of physical attacks, and the cheapest Hired Help option gives a party-wide PhysDef buff, which is of course very handy. And as a bonus, I unlock the Endless Items passive.

Our first encounter with a Rockadillo.

It goes about as you'd expect.

Up this particularly unsafe-looking bridge...

...and it looks like we've discovered where the bandits are hiding.

Ye have courage, I'll give ye that. Just who are ye, anyway? Never seen no hedge knight swing a blade the way ye do.
Then you'll step aside, if you know what's good for you.
You're on our land now, hedge knight. We give the orders here.

The same encounter as before, except this time we have three strong allies, so...


To end things, let's show off Olberic's skills since he just gained enough JP for a skill.

Level Slash (9SP) - Attack all foes with a sword.

It's actually 25% stronger than a base attack, though each boost only adds 90% more damage as a trade off, so it's a wash for single-target enemies. Regardless, it's a great skill throughout the game as a cheap target-all.

Abide (4SP) - Increase the user's physical attack strength for 3 turns.

Only works on Olberic. About what you'd expect. Two extra turns per boost point.

Spearhead (6SP) - Attack a single foe with a polearm, and act earlier on your next turn.

50% more damage, and lowers the target's defense to 80% of its base value, with each boost adding 100% more damage. Using this means Olberic goes first before anybody besides enemies recovering from break. A nice way to focus on turn order and deal damage at the same time.

Incite (4SP) - Become more readily targeted by foes for 3 turns.

From my experience, physicals always target Olberic when it's on. It definitely has its uses, especially since Olberic's Talent involves Boosting the Defend ability to take less damage.

Cross Strike (12SP) - Unleash a sword attack on a single foe.

It does a nice 90% extra damage on a base attack, adds 100% attack per boost point, and only factors in 2/3 of the target's defense to boot. This is Olberic's best attack for most of the game, so it's a good one to grab.

Stout Wall (4SP) - Increase the user's physical defense for 3 turns.

Same deal as Abide.

Thousand Spears (20SP) - Attack random foes with a polearm 5 to 10 times.

This is a weird one. It does random single-target attacks, each one doing a pretty weak 80% of damage and adding 25% more defense to the target, with boosting adding a meager 40% more damage per point. This skill ignores Accuracy and Evasion entirely, with its hit formula being somewhat arbitrary beyond a guarantee of three hits. Honestly, the only reason to use it over something like Level Slash is to rip through the shields of a lone target weak to spears. Still, in that rare situation, this ability is fantastic, so at least it's not useless.

Brand's Thunder (30SP) - [Divine Skill] Unleash a tremendously powerful sword attack on a single foe.

A whopping 1275% the damage of a regular attack, while also factoring in only 60% of the target's defense. Just a pure, painful physical sword strike. There's beauty in simplicity.

Passive Skills:

Cover: The equipping character will absorb single-targeted damage for allies who are near death.

Near Death is <30% Max HP. I'm pretty "meh" on these kinds of abilities in games, and this one is no exception. There's a few fun things you can do I guess, but that's true of a lot of other abilities, too.

Summon Strength: Increases the physical attack strength of the equipping character by 50.

Like the other stat-boosting passives, a solid filler ability until something better comes along.

Endure: When the equipping character is afflicted with poison, sleep, confusion, blindness, silence, terror, or unconsciousness, their physical and elemental defenses are enhanced.

Flat out adds the PhysDef and ElemDef buffs when Olberic has a status effect. All of these are particularly nasty to have, and even if you kept them they generally expire after a few rounds at most, so I really don't see this passive being worth it.

Surpassing Power: Increases the maximum damage that can be dealt by the equipping character to 99,999.

The damage cap is 9,999 without this ability. Frankly, it's stupid this is even a passive in the first place, but what can you do. Essentially required for your damage dealers in the end game, as you may expect.

I decided to pick Cross Strike, and with that, next time we'll make our way to rescue Philip, and also listen to the best song in the game...