The Siege of Palingrad, Part 4
“Gomez! Gomez, my darling! Wake up!”
Gomez opened his eyes just in time to see Morticia’s concerned face as her right hand connected solidly with the side of his face. The slap hurt worse than his two busted ribs.
“Forgive me for lying down on the job,” he quipped as soon as he regained his composure. “Have I missed anything important?”
Morticia smiled. “Come and see, Mon Cherie.”
Gomez bounced to his feet and sprang at Morticia. “I love it when you don’t speak Language, my dear.” He grabbed her hand and kissed it passionately before Duty compelled him to evaluate the situation. The first thing he noticed was the Igor parts scattered on the ground. Gomez was sure Fester had betrayed them once again and added this latest crime to the list of reasons he would strike the Croakamancer down personally. Then he saw Fester standing not ten paces away.
Gomez uttered a feral cry and rushed past Morticia as he once again whipped out his rapier. Before he had taken three steps, however, the warlord halted in confusion. The stroke that was meant for Fester never fell, for the caster once again wore the Addams crest on his black robes.
“What, what is the meaning of this? Is this some sort of new trickery?” Gomez’s suspicion spread through the assembled troops and carried the weight of an order. Before Fester could snap his fingers twice, two dozen archers had nocked arrows and held them at the ready. If Gomez gave the order to fire, they would do so, no matter the target’s loyalty.
Fester bent down slowly, planted his Gnarly staff on the ground, and took two steps to the left. Then he raised his hands in the universal gesture of surrender, nodded to his left, and uttered a single word. “Dibs.”
Gomez followed the Croakamancer’s gaze and noticed the League’s Champions had all been croaked. It was clear that the Igor’s explosion had done them all in, some were visibly impaled by severed body parts. If Fester was playing some sort of trick, it was an expensive one. The five knights and their gear would cost thousands of shmuckers each to replace. Gomez couldn't imagine how the League could hope to come out ahead if this was indeed a ruse. He was determined to find out the truth.
“Fester, you have five seconds before I allow my archers to find out how many arrows it will take to croak you. Start talking.”
“Overlord Itt ordered me to turn. Granny apparently made a prophecy that claimed I would serve the League for a time before returning to aid in a great battle.”
“If Granny Eudora made such a prophesy, why wasn't I informed?”
“She suggested keeping the plan secret because your actions would be affected if you knew. You’re more than welcome to ask Itt by hat; he’ll vouch for me.”
Gomez mentally ordered his Thing to bring him a quill, paper, and the sending hat. He kept his eyes on Fester until it arrived before turning over watch to Morticia and hastily scrawling a note to his overlord. The Thing grabbed the finished note and dove into the hat. Gomez turned his attention back to the “prisoner”, who had sat down and was amusing himself with a deck of ordinary playing cards. He looked over at Morticia, whose shrug meant, “I saw no harm in it.” Nevertheless, Gomez kept a close eye on the Croakamancer until a rumbling sound announced an impending message. Then the Thing popped back through the hat and offered Lord Gomez a note marked with the Addams Family seal.
The Addams’ chief warlord popped the note open and examined the seal carefully. If it was a forgery, it was a good one. Satisfied, he read the encoded response from Overlord Itt, translating it in his head as he went. When he finished, he tore the note to shreds and once again launched himself at Fester.
“Brother!” he cried as, heedless of his broken ribs, he tackled the Croakamancer to the ground. Fester chuckled from underneath as Gomez let out a groan. “If you’ll get off of me, I’ll explain everything. But first, let me see what I can do about those ribs. “Lecter, Wily, Kevorkian!”
A bracing chill swept through Lord Gomez’s torso as the Healomancy spell sought out the damaged portions of his body and restored them. He rolled off of Fester and leapt up re-invigorated. “Come brother, we have much to discuss and much to do!” He ran off to examine the croaked League of Legends warriors.
Fester pulled himself off the ground and rejoined Lord Gomez, who was examining the magical gear still worn by the five Champions. The warlord was already at work trying to guess what each item did and which unit under his command would benefit the most. Fester waited until Gomez was reaching out to examine a magical axe before interrupting. “I called dibs, remember?” Lord Gomez grabbed the weapon and hefted it in both hands. “Alright,” he responded, “you get first pick. What do you want?” Fester told him.
After the spoils of war had been dealt with, Lord Gomez called for a meeting in the command tent to hear Fester’s story and to see what they would be up against when the assault began.
Fester explained about the prophesy and how Overlord Itt had contacted him with secret orders to defect to the League. “Before I was ordered to turn, I barely knew anything about the League. Now I was being sent to them with only Granny’s word that I’d come back eventually. We didn’t know how long it would take for the prophesy to come true. Even worse, I knew of no way to force myself to turn back. I once heard from a Turnamancer in the Magic Kingdom that turning is merely the outward expression of a unit’s inner loyalty. Once I turned to the League, would I be able to turn back to the Addams’ side voluntarily?”
There was silence for a moment while everyone digested the story. Then Morticia answered slowly, “So maybe it was seeing that Igor that caused your loyalty to change? You seemed quite nostalgic over it.”
“Yes!” Fester replied without hesitation. “Looking at my handiwork, remembering the days of linked casting with Pugsley, feeling pride in my creation. It all brought me back. I knew I had to move fast, so I cast a spell to turn the Igor into a bomb. Usually it only works on Uncroaked, but the Igors are special.”
With the mystery of Fester’s betrayal and return cleared up, Lord Gomez turned the group’s attention to more pressing matters. “Fester, what can you tell us about the defenses of Palingrad? What is the battle strategy, and who’s leading the troops? What about…”
Fester held up his hand. “Slow down a bit, Lord Gomez. I will tell you about the defenses first. Don’t attempt to send in fliers; I spelled up the Tower of Juneau myself and put over fifty spells into it. Lord Nexus, the city’s protector, knows of your Burnam Woodsmen and their ability to construct siege engines in the fields. He plans to leave the outer walls undefended and fight you in the streets and in the garrison.
In addition, the League’s Dirtamancer, Joad, has placed traps in clusters around the city. The defenders will surely try to lead you into them. There are a number of safe routes, but even if we take one, Lord Nexus will still be able to send out sorties to outflank us. I’m hoping that our chief warlord has a way to counter that.”
Gomez rubbed his pencil mustache thoughtfully, “I think I have an idea. But first, your orders. Fester, I want you to draw a map of the safe routes to Palingrad’s garrison and then go uncroak the Champions. Spend as much juice as you need to do the job properly. Wednesday, I want you to muster the troops and split them into three equal groups. Pugsley, make sure the siege engines are ready; I’ll show you where to place them once I finish up here.”
“And what about me, Lord?” asked Lady Morticia.
“Stay here with me and help us with the plan of attack, my Lady. Then go prepare for battle.”
Wednesday and Pugsley left the tent to carry out the warlord’s instructions. Gomez, Morticia, and Fester gathered around a map of the city. “Now Fester, I want you to draw us three routes from the wall to the city’s garrison starting from this section here.” Gomez pointed with a lit cigar at the section of the wall that was closest to the Addams’ forces. “Label them ‘top’, ‘middle’, and ‘bottom’. When our turn arrives, we’ll breach the wall and send forces down each route until we break through to the garrison.”
Morticia frowned. “And then what, Lord?”
Gomez slammed his hand down on the table, scattering papers and miniatures everywhere. “And then we destroy Nexus!”
That tower sounds really spelled up! You wouldn't want to dive it with any of your heroic units without a lot of minions for screening.
He should also label the Burnham guys, running through the forest area gathering up whatever resources they can find "Jungle".
And don't forget the giant worm monster that could provide a decisive resource advantage to whoever gets to it first!
If his three-pronged approach doesn't work, he could try lumping everything together into some kind of All Random, All Middle push and hoping for the best.