The Imperfect Warlord (Chapter 8)

Part 8 of 11 in The Imperfect Warlord
 
 
 
Chapter 8: Webinar, Ansom&Toma, Snides, Maggie, Wanda&Toma, Foo, Sizemore&Jade, Charlie
 
 
Highness, convention dictates that we first secure the city walls before attempting other routes,” Sir Webinar objected.
 
I am well aware of convention, however...” Ansom suddenly stopped talking, raised his hand, and said “bide” to temporary end the discussion.
 
Ansom found himself with a thinkamancy request. It was from Gobwin Knob. He seriously thought about ignoring it, especially after the previous message that had attempted to distract him from Jillian. It had been done so she would be unable message him herself and break the spell she was under.
 
The attempt had been laughably inept, the sort of thing he expected from the Worm. How on Erf had he come up with that dwagon fort decoy? Ansom didn't see how this could be a similar trick. No one had left the area. Lacking a good reason to not answer, it simply wasn't his nature to ignore this sort of thing, so he accepted.
 
A slim Caucasian man, with brown hair, and blue eyes, and stubble on his face appeared. He was plainly outfitted with the livery of... a hamster? The drawing was rather crude. “Hi there Ansom! I'm...”
 
Prince Ansom,” the Jetstone heir corrected.
 
Huh? No, I'm not a... AH, you meant yourself. Okay then, I'm aware that you are a Noble, yes,” Toma said.
 
ROYAL. I am Chief Warlord and heir to the throne of Jetstone.”
 
An actual heir, huh?” Toma was genuinely interested in that. “Do you get some sort of bonuses over nobles? Seems rather suboptimal to only receive the ability to keep the crown safe, despite taking up sixty turns to pop. Anything that takes sixty full turns should get something extremely interesting as a special.”
 
That's...” Ansom decided to skip this line of conversation. “Who are you?”
 
OH!” Toma said. “You distracted me. I'm Toma, Chief Warlord to Gobwin Knob. I am to be your opponent for this invasion.”
 
Do you not even have a title?”
 
Wellllll, not really, but I've been working on one. The Tool said that I need something more catchy to call myself then Toma. I'm thinking Lord Hamster! How does that sound? I even drew this picture to go with the name.”
 
You made it up? So it has no meaning.”
 
Meaning? I don't understand.”
 
Ansom knew he was letting himself get sidetracked but the man just looked so befuddled. Educating the ignorant was another responsibility of being noble. “Titles are granted through the will of the Titans when popped,” he lectured. “They are symbols of our place in the world.”
 
So, a title only has meaning if you are popped with it?”
 
Precisely.”
 
What about titles being based on accomplishments?”
 
They cannot. While deeds are to be honoured, it cannot supersede what the Titans themselves have decreed.”
 
No,” Toma shook his head. “I've already seen a caster (Isaac), that gained a title (headmaster), due entirely to his accomplishments (learning all three lookamancy disciplines). To say that it doesn't count cannot be right. What's important is your deeds and power. I see no benefit from some status you popped with. Royalty, on its own, is a meaningless status symbol.”
 
ROYALTY, is a direct mandate to rule. From the titans themselves.”
 
I heard a bit about that. There were lines, weren't there? Ninety-nine of them, popped when the world was new.”
 
Ansom nodded to that, “indeed there were, my own line is a direct descendant of one of those original rulers.”
 
Yours is the only kingdom in the area that can make that claim, is it not?”
 
It is. Jestone is a leader of nobility for all to follow.”
 
So your line has existed for thousands upon thousands of turns. How have you improved upon the lives of those that came before you?”
 
Improvement? There is no need for such things. Tradition of the old ways it considered paramount to us.”
 
Toma's face firmed up, “with an answer like that, it's no wonder Royals have lost their Titanic mandate and become a meaningless status symbol. I respect your power, but I see no reason to consider any royal greater then a simple noble.”
 
Listen, Lord Hamster,” Ansom cried out, angered by the insult. “I am directly descended from those the Titans chose to rule. I am stronger, smarter, and more morally fit than those of a lesser station. It it my privilege, and my burden, to lead both man and beast. By what right do you lead?”
 
I work for a Tool,” Toma's eyes narrowed.
 
You work... for Stanley the Worm!” Ansom screamed out.
 
Yes. Stanley, who was gifted the hammer to accomplish deeds you Royals could not even imagine, beforehand,” unlike Ansom, Toma didn't raise his voice but he was acting seriously all the same. “I've seen his attunement and the effects it's had upon him. It made him stronger and more fit then any mere Royal. His accomplishments show him to be higher then Royalty. Stanley is your superior. “
 
And Charlie is no Royal but he's attuned to his artifact, which allows him abilities that no royal can equal. Combine that with an intelligence that is beyond all question and you have someone that deserves respect! With only one city, he proves himself to constantly alter the fate of nations. If it wasn't for him, your pathetic coalition would have lost all it's siege already to my trap.”
 
'So HE was the one that came up with the idea' Ansom realized. Apparently, the Worm had not completely squandered his leadership, after all. 'No more of this useless discussion,' he decided.
 
Are you calling to arrange surrender terms?” he asked.
 
HA! Right. You won't even make it through the outer wall.”
 
Well then what are...”
 
Wait,” Toma interrupted. “If I surrendered, would I be allowed to request a boon?”
 
Ansom paused. The gall of the man for interrupting! However... “you may.”
 
If you were to offer me the life of the barbarian warlord, in exchange for my surrender. That would be an acceptable starting point.”
 
Ansom took in what Toma said, “You want Jillian croaked? Why? Because she knows where he is going....” he said, almost to himself as he answered his own question.
 
No. This so-called bubble kingdom is an invention of hers,” Ansom was not fooled by the deflection. It seemed he was as bad at denials as the Worm was.
 
How did you know about that?” Ansom asked.
 
Um...” Toma seemed taken aback. Likely because he realized his mistake.“Secret allies?”
 
Ansom smiled. It wasn't a nice smile. Make him look shark-like, in all honesty. “Jillian is going to find and croak the Worm.”
 
I already had a thinkagram sent to the Tool and told him everything,” the more Toma tried to deny the possibility, the more certain that Ansom became of his belief that Jillian had been right, and that the Worm was no longer listening to his Chief.“On top of that I'm sending out thinkagrams to the other members of your coalition as I explain that Stanley is a life that will be able to help change the world for the better, unlike you stagnant Royals.”
 
The fact is Prince,” Toma continued, “at least one member of your coalition can see a better way of moving forward. Others are thinking about it. Tool Stanley raised himself from a piker to become Overlord of a nation though sheer determination. You can't croak this man! We need his power and to understand the reasoning why the Titans chose to grant him their might!”
 
There is no particular reason for him to have gained attunement,” Ansom's voice was steel. “If you are not here to arrange your surrender, then there is little point in talking to you any further. Break.”
 
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“WAIT!” I cried out as the thinkagram vanished. “Aw, nuts. Well, okay, I think I got what I wanted from the conversation.”
 
“Which was?” Maggie asked.
 
“Make him mad, get him off his game. Make sure he doesn't doubt that Jillian's plan is the correct one. Also, to make him think I'm more worried about the walls then being attacked through the tunnels. In addition, I'm also changing the Toolist mantra,” I replied.
 
“Lord?”
 
We were alone, so I could be honest, “in the original time-line, when Parson confronted Ansom, he said that 'Royalty is obsolete'. This had the unintended effect of colouring the viewpoint of all the decrypted that re-popped, after Wanda had attuned. I have no changed that refrain to 'Royalty, on it's own, is meaningless'.”
 
“And that is better?”
 
“I think so. I'm not lying when I say I want to improve the lives of the people of this world. Nobles have had the time to make something... Something better, but all they do is a lot of petty warfare. Even worse, every time a kingdom gets wiped out, all the knowledge that it gained is lost. Even the Magic Kingdom doesn't really try to advance itself. Tell me Maggie. You thinkamancers are in the best position in the world to create new things to benefit the world and discover it's secrets, through your thinkamancy links. What have your brethren done to improve the lives in the Magic Kingdom?”
 
“I... am unsure.”
 
“The way I see it, the dirtamancers have done more then the thinkamancers have and that just should not be. There is more then one way to conquer the world Maggie. Military conquest is the way the people of Erf go for... but diplomacy could also manage it. Also, culture.” Thank you Civilization V. “If you make a kingdom that is better then anywhere else, then others would want to imitate it.”
 
“Is that your goal?”
 
I scratched my hair while replying, “maybe. It's certainly an option, and one I'm going to try and press. I want to find new ways of doing things, Maggie. Better ways, but first, I need for our Side to grow strong enough to have the luxury of testing out new ways of governing. We need to handle Charlie too, of course. His entire modus operandi is based on keeping as many conflicts going as possible. Peace, whether through conquest or negotiations, will likely fail, as long as he retains power.”
 
I stood up, “common, Jillian will be coming soon. As soon as Wanda's done with her, I’ll be wanting my glasses back.” What had I been thinking? Loaning them out to her before doing the thinkagrams. I still had no idea if anything interesting popped up from actual royals and rulers. I would be really embarrassed if there was. I had been informed that the noble/royal bonus wasn't as large as the one for being attuned, but I really should see it for myself.
 
Maggie, Bogroll, and I, headed to the situation room. Since Stanley wasn't around, and the guards were absent due to being at the outer wall, I could declare that Bogroll was allowed inside the area. He was suitably impressed at seeing the room. Upon arrival, I looked around. “Sizemore and Jade still not back yet?” I asked.
 
“No Lord,” Misty replied. “They were deep in the caverns and, without spidews and full access to the tunnels, their progress is slower then ideal.”
 
“You feel they'll be okay? I need you to pay attention to the above ground action.”
 
“They should be fine, Lord. They have managed to avoid all danger so far and I believe they could have done it without me watching over them.”
 
“Good. I believe the air-force will be coming in soon. So keep an eye on for that while scanning. After they arrive, I want you to give them your full attention and copy down every hex they move through after leaving. Apparently they can use a faster way of getting somewhere, and I need to know the exact route.
 
“A faster route, Lord?”
 
"Yea. Apparently, she can get to the mountain gap that's nearby faster then Stanley can. So clearly you missed something, right?"
 
She snorted at that. It was the first time I had seen her with this sort of expression, "if Stanley doesn't know how to get somewhere, it's because he didn't bother to look at the detailed notes I've left. The area within a hundred hexes is thoroughly mapped."
 
“I... See," I said, a little off my game from her reply. "I suppose that makes sense. Alright, forget keeping an eye on Jillian then. I'm going to meet with the keshiks to give them some leadership, in case things go bad and Wanda needs it.” After I said that, I headed out.
 
Up, up, up, the stairs to the very top. The keshiks were waiting and Wanda was outside on the landing. She was dressed in that black hood and carried the staff of suckage, as I remembered from canon. I looked at the lights and clapped.
 
The lights winked out.
 
“Clap on.” *clap*clap* “Clap off.”*clap*clap* “Clap on, clap off. The clapper.” I sang softly. Then, without clapping, I willed the lights on again. Yea, I didn't need to clap.
 
“Troops,” I said and they gathered around. “I'll be stacking with you as needed. Objective is to keep Wanda safe. Not to attack the air force. In fact, I think it might be better if we are not seen at all, so we will be staying behind the door in the dark until I order otherwise. Understood?” I got sounds of agreement from all of them.
 
“Okay, I'm not sure how much time is left but while we wait...”
 
“FRRT FRRT! FRRT!” the warning horns blared.
 
*CLAP*CLAP* the lights went dark. Just because I didn't NEED to clap, didn't mean I wouldn't. I ordered them to move to the sides of the door. My veil ring dropped my stat board and changed my colouring to black to blend in with the hallway. I didn't really have a good view but I could hear the conversation well enough.
 
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Events played out as canon, except with less stuttering, since Wanda wasn't still damaged by the spell backlash. Also, as I'd hoped, all three archons got shot down by the second wave of the attack.
 
After they had left. I turned the lights back on, walked up to her, and held out my hand. She understood and gave me my glasses back.
 
“Thank you,” I said as I put them back on my face.
 
“Now Wanda, stand still, take no hostile actions. Explain to me why you didn't croak Jillian,” I ordered. “That woman is the only outsider that knows the location of the former kingdom of Faq. If you were planning on betraying our Tool, you should have just turned right there.”
 
Bows were suddenly knocked at my words and aimed at Wanda chest as I continued. “Answer very carefully.” It was so totally unnecessary to do this level of drama but I needed to cow this woman....
 
Okay, the only reason I was being so so confrontational was because it made me feel like a bad boop. I don't care. Having a bunch of soldiers ready to blow someone away at my command just gives me such a RUSH and it really emphasizes that I'm in control, NOT her. Which is something she seems to forget.
 
Wanda took in my threat and was silent for a few moments as she considered her next words, “I was not ordered to kill her, and I can save Tool Stanley without doing so.”
 
“What makes you think Stanley needs saving?”
 
“She's going to cut him off while he's on route to the former Faq city sites.”
 
“Is that what you think he's doing? I don't recall ever saying that to you.”
 
“You mean he's not?” Wanda asked, clearly surprised.
 
“No,” I said with a touch of scorn. When I spoke again it was back to my neutral tone of voice. “He's hiding, under veil, within a turn from the city.
 
“Then why...” she trailed off.
 
“Why what? Why did I let them think they knew where he was going? Obviously, to get rid of the fliers. The lookamancer can tell us when Jillian gets out of range. Once that happens, then, perhaps, we can talk the Tool into coming back to help out. Your attack was effective, but as long as Charlie is allied to the coalition, he can send more archons in, and we won't have the forces to stop him next time. I'm gambling on being able to win here still, so I decided to take the risk of the bolt hole being discovered.”
 
“Or maybe you're asking why I didn't tell you about Stanley beforehand, and the answer to that was curiosity. I didn't really understand your relationship with the barbarian but I think overhearing this little conversation has finally cleared that up.”
 
“Wanda, how long have you been in love with her?” I asked, as I waved the keshiks down from their ready stance. Wanda bowed her head for awhile. I realized I'd need to make it an order to get an answer, so I did.
 
“Awhile,” she finally said.
 
“You know she chose Ansom over you, right?” I pointed out. “When she was fighting the suggestion spell, I asked if she wanted to talk to you and she said she wanted Ansom.” Wanda flinched at that but said nothing
 
“You have clearly been compromised by this woman.” I decided. “Therefore, your judgement when dealing with her no longer applies. You are forbidden to make any decisions revolving her that may affect our side, as long as there is a warlord within communication range you can discuss this with, before any rash decisions are made. Also, and I want this to be clear, next time we see Jillian, I'm having her croaked.”
 
“No!” she cried out, a look of desperation in her eyes.
 
“You got it bad don't you? You're like an addict and she's the drug.” the description I picked was deliberate. Wanda had has... issues with being forcefully addicted in the past. “If you got a problem with this, then why don't you turn?”
 
“I can't,” she replied.
 
“You know, you sound a lot like Jillian did when she was trying to decide what to do. Difference is, Jillian did make her choice while you seem to still be unsure about yours. If you can't make up your mind, then I'll make it up for you. Otherwise, you'll just end up making a decision that will hurt our side. We'll talk more on this later on.” I said.
 
“Alright men,” I said to the keshiks, “we have corpses to uncroak. Come on Wanda, lets head to the ground floor.”
 
The keshiks sped down the stairs, after I sent them a silent order to get moving, as I walked at Wanda's slower pace.
 
“I've been messing with Ansom's head,” I said without preamble. “He got pretty mad, and we just shot down a lot of fliers. So I need your opinion on something. Ansom doesn't have his whole column here yet, but he doesn't need it. If he hits us this turn, we can't win.”
 
Wanda hummed in response.
 
“But he's not going to do that, is he?”
 
“No.”
 
“Because as mad as he is, he's the kinda guy who has to have all his pieces in place before he moves.”
 
“Yes.”
 
“Then we are in agreement. I'll continue my current plans.”
 
Wanda looked at me, dumfounded, and asked, “how can you trust my evaluation on Ansom, just after telling me that everything I say about Jillian is suspect and accusing me of wanting to turn?”
 
I lifted an eyebrow, “That and this are two different things, or are you also in love with Ansom?” I asked.
 
“No.”
 
“Then there is no problem. It's not like I don't understand love, Wanda. It makes you do things that you would never do and I don't consider that a bad thing either. I wouldn't be all that upset if you turned. We'd still be enemies if you did, but it's a choice I can respect, as long as she loved you back.”
 
“Do you honestly think she still does though?” she stiffened, got a stony look, and didn't reply.
 
“If she doesn't then she can only end up hurting you and, through you, the Side will be hurt,” I continued. “My duty says that I can't let her use you to hurt the Side, Wanda. She'll need to be dealt with.”
 
“I'm sorry Wanda... but a choice has to be made, if you can't make it, then I will. Luckily, for you, she should be safe for the time being. Feel free to try and think up some alternate solutions for when we win this battle.” I said. We walked in silence for a bit more before I spoke again, “when we get to the bottom I don't want you to uncroak the archons. I'll be having them claimed instead for now, and moved to a secure location."
 
“Why?”
 
“You'll find out. You can't uncroak gwiffens either, right?”
 
“I cannot.”
 
"I'll have them claimed as well. I'm going to be having them moved with the archons for a surprise, if we can survive the next two turns. The rest were unipegasaurs and orlies, which I believe are uncroakable?”
 
“They are,” Wanda said as she nodded her head.
 
“Concentrate on those then,” I said as we walked out of the tower. I scanned the area. There were a few goblins. One of which was... OH!
 
Foofiegoo (Wukish tribe)
Race: Gobwin
Class: tribal chief (fighter); light (small)
Level: 5
Move: 6+1=7
Hits: 3+1=4
Combat: 1+2+1=4
Defence: 1+2+1=4
Special: None
 
What a horrible name. Seriously? Foofiegoo? I'll ask if his parents hated him but they don't have parents here. Therefore, I guess Erfworld, itself, inflicted that particular indignity. No. Concentrate on what's important, Toma.
 
Looking at the board, I can clearly see I was right. Being a tribal chief isn't at all like a warlord, they are rulers and their sub-class determines their combat abilities. I decided to go up to him.
 
“Greetings Chief,” I refuse to call him by his absurd name. “What are you still doing near the tower?”
 
“Thinkamancer said to keep some behind. I stay. Find corpses. Drag here” he said.
 
“Alright. Well, since you gobwins are doing that anyway, drag the croaked archons and gwiffens down to the dungeon, near the portal room and put them in storage."
 
“Foof do that, Chief,” he said and then I ignored him, confident that he would manage what I wanted. Would have to be fairly intelligent to have made it to level five, and be chief.
 
With nothing in particular to do, I decided to watch Wanda uncroak some units. The process is fairly fascinating.
 
“You give the bodies motion, but they have no life, correct?” I asked after awhile.
 
“Yes Warlord,” she smiled while replying, uncroaking seemed to be one of the true pleasures she had left. “You are not bothered by this?”
 
“Not at all, we call them zombies in my world and they are considered to be a very popular creature by my culture,” although I suspect their attitudes would change a bit, if they were no longer fictional monsters.
 
“Oh?” Wanda said, slightly chirpier then before. Which probably meant she was thrilled with what I'd told her.
 
“Oh, my, yes,” I said. “We have many books of lore on them and their variations. Tell me Wanda, do your fellows have an infectious bite?” Calling them 'fellows' was another deliberate choice. Watching her do the uncroaking reminded me to start using that descriptive. It was the word her brother used to describe the uncroaked. He was also probably the only commander truly accepted them as being not just useful but a wonderful thing. To get in good with a caster, it's always a good idea to act positively about their craft.
 
“I'm not quite sure what you mean,” Wanda said, confused.
 
“As I said, my world has a lot of lore about zombies, which may bring insights to how it could be done here,” I explained. “If you got bitten by a zombie, it acts like a poison, coursing through your body, weakening you until you croak and then it auto-magically reanimates your corpse, and you become a zombie.”
 
“I've never even thought about such a thing before,” Wanda looked at the corpse she was bringing back. “The poison would have to be able to croak before the start of turn.”
 
“Maybe it would be possible that it reverses the start-of-turn healing process instead? Working like incapacitation, and instantly turning the unit into an uncroaked upon turn start. At which point it would begin attacking it's own troops in what would be considered a safe location?” I asked.
 
Wanda thought about it some more, “poison is a hippymancer skill,” she said regretfully. “I can't think of a way to replicate it.”
 
“Hmm, maybe a hippy could design something that one of your fellows be a delivery system for? Or perhaps a link between you and a hippy could create an infectious fellow then?”
 
“Possibly.”
 
I smiled, “something to think about. Oh, hey!” I said as I turned my head. Sizemore and Jade had finally returned. I walked over to talk to them, As I did, I took note of Jade's new outfit. Bogroll had made some masterwork armour for that mimicked Scarlet's set-up. It was a good look.  I also took note of her arrows, they all had arrowheads made out of jade. I never gave any orders to manufacture arrows like that. Maybe this was part of her evolving signamancy?
 
“Welcome back you two. No complications for the mission?”
 
“None, Warlord,” they echoed.
 
“As soon as their turn started. Infantry began pouring in. The gobwin scouts and I made sure the traps weren't accidentally set off early though.” Sizemore said.
 
“Excellent.” I cheered.
 
“Are you sure you want so many units on the outer walls?” Sizemore asked. “They would walk in here right now. More or less.”
 
I turned to Sizemore. “Didn't you just get up top?” I asked. “How did you know I sent them to the outer walls?”
 
“My dirtamancy gives me a feel for where others are in a hex, it's not that specific but it can help me get to others or avoid them.” he said. Made sense. After all, Sizemore had managed to go through the underground, disarming traps in canon, and he didn't have Misty's help at the time. He would have needed an edge, beyond being able to dig through the dirt.
 
”I see,” I said. “To answer your question, if they attack now, we lose anyway, but don't worry, they won't try anything this turn. Ansom thinks he's got us, and doesn't feel the need to rush his attack.”
 
“Doesn't he?” Sizemore asked.
 
“Got us? No,” I said flatly. “After this turn ends, we'll be in a MUCH better situation. On our turn, we'll crush the infantry down below, and then uncroak them to shore up the wall defences. That should probably give us enough to hold out for the rest of the turn. Then, I'll contact the Tool to bring the dwagons back to the city and, if I can do that, we should be able to wipe out the invasion.”
 
“Lord Stanley is nearby? I thought he left.”
 
“He certainly thought about leaving, but I convinced him to give me four turns to turn things around first. The coalition thinks they are going to get ahead and ambush him, but all they did was give us a bunch of fliers to uncroak and to get rid of the few that remained in our airspace.”
 
“Huh,” Sizemore said. Jade, who had been quietly listening nearby, grinned.
 
“Best of all, with the fliers moving away from the area we don't have to deal with....*TA-DA!* Charlie.” I gave a show of groaning as my eye book alerted me that Charlie was trying to talk.
 
“This is bad,” I said. “Charlie has screwed up every one of my plans. I need to make sure he doesn't do anything. I'll be alone for a bit.”
 
I walked off a bit and sat down. Inwardly, I was happy. It was time to find out how many shiny new archons I was going to be killing. Hehehehehe. I made sure the privacy setting was on and then opened up the chat.
 
 
CharlsNChrg: Toma?
LordHamster: Greetings Charlie. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?
CharlsNChrg: Oh... you know. I was just wondering what you were up to.
LordHamster: Not much. Just watching Wanda uncroak some fliers.
CharlsNChrg: *sigh* You managed quite a trick there, taking down all three of my girls.
LordHamster: I'll tell you how for two thousand smuckers.
CharlsNChrg: Heh.
CharlsNChrg: No, I got it. Your caster had foolamancy dispelling glasses. Good try though.
LordHamster: You figured it out. Oh well, I expected that.
LordHamster: I was going to save that trick for when the rest of the archons showed up but, since Jillian said they were leaving, I felt I might not get another chance.
LordHamster: Besides, I really wanted to croak off Jaclyn for her little stunt.
CharlsNChrg: Fair enough. 
CharlsNChrg: Anyway, a new opportunity has presented itself. Let's talk business.
 
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The conversation went well. Charlie told me about the coalition plan, and that he was going to be hired by Transilvito, who WOULD be including magical protection this time around. This meant that Stanley wouldn't be able to sneak past any ambush.
 
When that was admitted, I dropped my posturing and asked how I could avoid his archons from joining in.
 
Like in canon, he wanted magical calculations, which I happily supplied. I also paid extra to guarantee that he wouldn't read the information in my eyebook. It was the cheapest option of several he gave me (only two extra calculations) and, frankly, even if he couldn't do it now, that didn't mean he wouldn't be able to later on. Being able to guarantee the information in my eyebook was a priceless advantage, and I took the deal gladly.
 
The next most important thing was when he asked me to calculate if twelve archons could take out the garrison tomorrow before my Side's start of turn. To which I answered no.
 
Then the big question. How many additional archons would he need to manage it? I thought about how I would plan this. Wanda had killed a quite a few unipegasaurs, so there was enough for all the archery units, myself, Wanda, Jade, all the knights with some room to spare. Plus, a bunch of orlies.
 
Split into two groups, Jade would lead the keshiks in a nine stack while Wanda and I would take over the rest of the fliers and screen for her. Jade, at level 6, was the more valuable fighter. When the fliers fall, I figured that would be pretty much it for being able to defend. Possibly, the gobwins could defend the tunnels but I doubted their numbers would mean much. No. The battle would be won or lost in the air. So I'd commit myself there.
 
In canon, it took took twenty-eight to win. This time around, Charlie needed thirty-nine. Higher leadership, having a unit that could see through foolamancy and able to direct where the shots would go, knight class archers, in stronger armour, and possessing maxed out quivers. All this, combined with a red dwagon mount, made this a MUCH tougher fight then before. On top of that, I'd killed two extra archons beforehand and managed to preserve all three for decryption, two days from now. So, if everything went as planned, I would be getting a total of forty two archons decrypted, fourteen more than in canon.
 
Charlie was surprised at the numbers but wasn't dissuaded. After that bit of business was done. I moved around and tried to get some last minute preparations ready for tomorrow.
 
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I'd learned earlier that unsupported army units, when surrounded by enemies in adjutant hexes, got penalties.
 
Turned out that even a city hex has problems in this sort of situation. For instance, when surrounded, cities will no longer produce excess smuckers, over the cost of upkeep and production becomes suspended. This tidbit also reminded me that I had gained a few more of them since I gave a bunch to the gobwin chief, so I unloaded what new funds I had gained to beef up his fighters, and, this time, I made sure he popped a few extra with scout class.
 
Another thing, and one of a great deal of importance, was that you needed to have a portion of your army camping outside, either in the garrison or near the outer walls. Percentages depending on different factors (ours were bad enough that that 100% of the city had to do it). If you had everyone go to sleep in their normal beds instead, then you had a defence penalty for any attacks you got hit with.
 
This was the reason that I was currently sitting around a campfire, while the troops sang songs. It'd be a really nice time, actually, if it wasn't for the invading army that was almost a stone's throw away from our positions. I hadn't done this sort of thing in over a decade.
 
However, tomorrow was too important to be able to afford any idling around...
 
“Want to go over stacks one more time, Sizemore?” I asked.
 
“Warlord, I know my part. All to well,” Sizemore replied.
 
Oh. Right. It's time for that talk.
 
“Yeah, you're a smart guy, Sizemore, and this is something you can handle,” I said. “I know what you're thinking.”
 
“Do you?” he asked in such a way that it clearly said that he didn't really care what I thought I knew.
 
“I do,” I assured him. “I know you're a pacifist.”
 
That caught his attention, he stopped staring into the fire and looked at me. “How did you know that?”
 
“You could say that it's just some knowledge that's been ingrained into me. I also realize that, no matter how my plan works out, tomorrow, you will have croaked... a lot of units. I don't suppose it helps, knowing they are invading your home? There is a difference between attacking someone, and defending yourself, after all.”
 
“It doesn't help at all. I can't bring myself to care, no matter what the reason, after tasting what it's like to croak another being. It's a stain on my being that I can't bring myself to to like in the slightest. But you can't release me from that can you.” He wasn't asking when he said that.
 
“Can you,” he repeated.
 
“Would you ask me to give up, and let them croak us instead?” Silence.
 
“It's not my fault that the enemy is surrounding us,” I continued. “I can't win without you. If you were someone weak, like a piker, I could let you sit this out but you have power, and with great power comes a great duty to use that power to help your Side... but that's not enough is it? Because you know your duty and you know this isn't my fault but you still hate me anyway for making you do it, right?”
 
“Yes,” he said, turning back to the fire. “I see you really do understand me, Warlord. Not that it makes any difference.”
 
“I won't apologize for what I must do, because I am a warlord and, as such, I must use every tool available to win. All I can do is promise that, after this battle, I will do my best to make things better. So that you never have to personally croak another unit again. For whatever it's worth Sizemore,” I said while standing up. “I do wish I had been able to find a better way. Be ready for tomorrow. “
 
I walked off and went over to Maggie. And motioned for her to come to a more secluded local. After making sure no one was in listening range, we talked.
 
“So, everything seems set for tomorrow,” I told her.
 
“Charlie?” she asked.
 
“He took the bait,” I held out my right hand, showing off the bracer.
 
“Will we be alright?”
 
“Hopefully. I've been trying to think of what can go wrong. One thing I remembered was that Parson tricked Ansom via fake parley and assassinated him.”
 
“Did that help?"
 
“It would have it if had been done earlier in the battle. However, by the time the deed was done, it was no longer enough. Moreover, because Charlie saw it happen, he used that to lower our status among the royals later on.”
 
“So, you are not going to do it?”
 
“I don't want to, but the problem with that is that Ansom is conceivably the only person that can actually escape the volcano trap, since he would still have move and his ability to fly might make him fast enough to get far enough away. If he does, we might not gain the arkenpliers. We have a lookamancer and Stanley is just a hex a way but it's still a possibility. In addition, he would be able to report to the coalition on what happened before we could stop him.”
 
“You have a plan though?”
 
I quirked a smile at that, “always,” I said, and I told her.
 
It wasn't a great plan, and it may not even work, but I still preferred it over being known as a parley breaker.
 
Time passed, the conversation ended, and I went to sleep.
 
Tomorrow was for all the marbles. Time to toss the dice.
 
DUSK. TOMMOROW WILL BEGIN TBfGK.
 
Mechanics Corner:
 
  • Titles: My impression is that plenty make up titles but it's the titles that are there when you pop that are considered the 'true' ones.
  • Zombie bite: Infectious zombie bites need to happen!
  • Dirt sense: Not sure how accurate it is. I might be overestimating but this is also Sizemore's city, if he could do it anywhere, it would be here.
  • City under siege: Sieges mean hardship. It makes sense to me that there are penalties to being completely surrounded. Plus, it seemed odd to have that whole campout. Parson might have ordered it for moral but I find it more likely that it was done because it needed to be done.

Word Count: 6.4k 

Part 8 of 11 in The Imperfect Warlord

Comments

  • WurmD

    A-MA-ZING fanfic :)

     

    Here are my contributions to it:

     

    After it arrives, I want you to give it full attention and copy down every square it takes after leaving. Apparently, it can use a faster way of getting somewhere, and I need to know the exact route.”

    I couldn't really understand these sentences. Only after reading on, could I understand given the rest of the conversation. Where "it" means "the airforce"

    Maybe rephrase it to: 
    After they arrive, I want you to give them your full attention and copy down every hex they move through after leaving. Apparently they can use a faster way of getting somewhere, and I need to know the exact route.
    “I... See," I said, a off my game from her reply.

    maybe 'a little off my game' ?

     
    which I believe are croakable?”

    uncroakable

  • CrazyIvan1745

    Is this a typo?

     

    "Tell me Wanda. You thinkamancers are in the best position in the world to create new things to benefit the world and discover it's secrets, through your thinkamancy links"

     

    Shouldn't you be speaking with Maggie there?

  • tomaO2

    Spelling corrected. 

  • Keybounce

    Typo:

    Improvement? There is no need for such things. Tradition of the old ways it considered paramount to us.”
    Should be: Tradition of the old ways _is_ considered.
     
    “You have clearly been compromised by this woman.” I decided. “Therefore, your judgement when dealing with her no longer applies. You are forbidden to make any decisions revolving her that may affect our side, as long as there is a warlord within communication range you can discuss this with, before any rash decisions are made. Also, and I want this to be clear, next time we see Jillian, I'm having her croaked.”
    Should be: You are forbidden to make any decisions _involving_ her
     
    I am enjoying this story.