Book 2 – Text Updates 027
Stanley glanced at the Twoll henchman as he swallowed the bologna.
He had been trying to get better at names, but realized he couldn't remember this one's to save his life. Z-something. Zeppo? Zippo?
For a moment, he hesitated. He glanced around the larder to make sure there was nobody else who could overhear. The story he was about to tell this lowly fat slob had been one of his closest held secrets for hundreds of turns.
But Faq was no longer a secret capital site he could use as a last-resort bolt hole; it was now an enemy kingdom. Actually, they were the closest enemy to his capital. Once Hamster figured his way out of this mess with Jetstone, it was probably time to see about wiping them out again.
"This Thinkagram," he told Zeno, "came from a Croakamancer. Which was weird enough, but I guess she had a scroll. She was calling me from the Magic Kingdom, but she wasn't looking for a job. Er, not exactly."
Zippy nodded at him with a blank look. Stanley didn't know how much Twolls knew about casters or the Magic Kingdom or world affairs, but he hoped it was enough to keep up. Explaining things was a pain. People asked too many questions. Hamster could learn something from Zero's ability to shut up and nod.
"She said she was from a bubble kingdom. See, that's what Faq was back then; they used a Foolamancer to stay hidden from all the other sides. But Wanda...this is Lady Firebaugh I'm talking about. Wanda said she was willing to give me the location of the capital, if I would promise to capture her when we attacked."
Stanley picked up a paring knife from the counter block and started picking apart a small round cheese. Beside him, Zynga continued to assemble a vast sandwich, taking his time with it while listening.
"Now, I was Chief Warlord back then, so I could do whatever I wanted. I told the King I was going off to tame dwagons in the high mountains out west, he didn't care. I headed out with like fifteen of 'em in a couple of stacks. Wanda said Faq was pretty weak, so I figured that'd be enough.
"Wow, was she wrong! Faq had a whole lot of casters, and they had defense spells up the wazoo. I could never have taken that city with fifteen dwagons. Never! I lost more than ten on approach, shot down from the tower."
He looked at Zidane, who seemed interested now that it was about a battle. Stanley grinned, "Ha! And you're wondering, 'so how did he get out of that one?' Right?"
"Yes, Lud," Zoidberg said, deferentially.
"Well, you forget! I am the Titans' favorite son," said Stanley. He put the knife down in a pile of cheese shrapnel and picked up the Arkenhammer, which he waved with authority. "The Titans provided! I told King Saline I was going out to tame dwagons, right? Well holy Monsters of Rock, did I! Never seen so many feral dwagons. All the way to Faq I kept finding them in ones and twos, and there were three in this one hex! Only time I ever saw that.
"So, when I showed up at Faq, I had thirty-six! And a lot of them were reds and purples so we just tore into the place. Now, I know what you're thinking!"
Zergling looked at him with absolutely no indication of thinking anything at all.
"You're thinking," said Stanley, "that Wanda set me up. But you're wrong. Because as soon as I started wailing on that city," Stanley snapped his fingers, and a little spark shot off the Arkenhammer and hit the ceiling, "boom. She turned. I'm wasting Faq guys down below, and she's uncroaking 'em and sending 'em into the tower to fight their own guys." He gestured with the hammer several times to indicate how violent and cool the battle was, once causing Zildjian to dodge. "She goes into the tower with a bunch of these guys, and then comes out into the courtyard with even more. Including, you ready?"
Zerbert nodded that he was ready.
"The King of Faq himself," grinned Stanley. "Yeah. It's pretty much over at that point, when you're fighting your own uncroaked ruler, haha! I mean they had an heir somewhere, but he was out in the field somewhere, out of the battlespace. Plus...their Foolamancer wasn't even in the capital. Wanda arranged that, too. We captured him when we razed their other two cities. Pretty neat package, right?
"Rest of their casters I guess croaked or got away to the Magic Kingdom. But hey we got two of the best ones out of it." He put down the Arkenhammer and looked distant for a moment.
"Yeah, Wanda didn't set me up," said Stanley, picking up a fragment of cheese. "She's all right, or she was back then. She's just never had a head for battle, you know? Prob'ly why she needs Hamster to save her behind now, right?"
Zoloft lifted up a plate containing an enormous masterpiece of a sandwich, at least the size of Stanley's head. "Your snack, Lud."
The Overlord's eyes went wide. "Whoa, haha!" he said. "Do I eat it, or tame it?"