The Imperfect Warlord (Chapter 10)

Part 10 of 11 in The Imperfect Warlord
 
Chapter 10:  JadeMuses, ArchonSpecial, Toma&Charlie, Ansom, Dance, LinkageBoom, Misty&Janis, Isaac&Parson
 
Before the coalition's turn start.
 
Jade, have you given any thought as to what would happen to the coalition, if Ansom got captured or croaked?”
 
Jade had, in fact, not given that particular question any thought of all, since the first disastrous attempt. She had been too busy, trying to figure out how to stay alive in the face of overwhelming numbers. Her Chief Warlord, however, had been considering the possibilities.
 
Present time.
 
Hold your ground Duke Nozzle,” Jade heard Ansom call out. With her x-ray vision boost, she could see him clearly though the stone of the outer wall. She turned her head back to view the knights and keshiks that were scattered around the area on spidewback.
 
It is my belief,” Toma said, “that only fools lead from the front. It's a common affliction for melee combat warlords. Ansom is a prime example of this.”
 
Of all the things Jade admired about her new Chief, and there were plenty, the one that spoke closest to her was his abiding passion of archery. It was extremely unusual. She had been told by the veterans that all the previous warlords had focused on other units, like the dwagons or knights. When they did focus on infantry, like Leeroy Jenkens, that was usually the stabbers. Archers had ever been the poor neglected cousin, until now.
 
Every plan he made seemed designed to try and maximize their use. His first major act was to promote archer knights, which was simply not done in Gobwin Knob, as all the knight class infantry were taken from the hobgobwins. It was also uncommon for the other sides as well. In truth, knight class archers (keshiks) were even less favoured then the knight class pikers (lancers).
 
In the dwagon hex plan, it was not necessary to bring all thirty-two for the ambush. The attacks of the archers could not hold a candle to the various specials of the dwagons, and there was certainly no need for him to carefully rotate them, us. Even the greenest of recruits were level three, by the time it was done. On top of that, he went out of his way to preserve them by hiding them away when it was the coalition's turn. While they lost seventeen dwagons, not a single archer had been croaked.
 
He'd made sure to have the twolls make cases of arrows for every archery member and had gotten all the keshiks +1 armours, even though there were more pressing needs for their work. He'd even made them the centerpiece of his final plan to take down the warlord in the tunnels, despite the fact that ranged units were at a disadvantage down there.
 
His latest plan continued the trend.
 
We can't get through the walls with all those troops deployed there!” came another voice. The Unaroyal warlord.
 
Those were my men,” said Ansom. “And they are my problem.” Jade watched him get onto his carpet. Was he really going to do it?
 
Move the rest of the column up!” he commanded. “Begin the breach!” He was, she realized.
 
Here! Now!” he continued. “All units.” Jade watched him starting to come up when she realized that she was directly in front of him. She needed to move out of the immediate path and duck down until the ambush started.
 
You're brain-lashed!” called out another voice, the Duke again.
 
Add siege as they arrive,” Ansom called out. “Don't spread them out. Hit here!”
 
The Jetstone heir just lost a large number of his men,” Toma explained. “It will naturally cause problems with his allies. However, the walls are now guarded by the fellows. There is no way it can escape him that, if he attacked the wall himself, he'd have good odds of beating back the fellows and giving the siege room to attack.”
 
Then, is this a weak point? Highness?” the warlord, named Duke Nozzle, asked.
 
It will be!” Ansom replied.
 
And that's where we'll get him,” Toma finished.
 
'Poor, poor, Prince,' Jade insincerely thought, as Ansom flew over the wall and made some strikes against the uncroaked, turning them to dust with but a touch. 'It may not end up being as weak a point as you imagine.'
 
She silently ordered them to start backing off. Ansom's swings got some but most remained out of his range. Toma had told her that the pliers allowed Ansom to croak multiple fellows (not uncroaked, she was to say fellows. He was very specific on that) in a turn, which could pile up quickly, but he shouldn't care how many he hit, as long as he opens up a gap. After he gets mid-way through the wall though, she needed to have them attack him a bit, so that he was kept too occupied to notice the incoming fliers.
 
After he's gotten far enough on the wall, I'll be sending in Wanda and a group of her fliers,” Toma said. “I don't care to use her for this, but she is... uniquely qualified. I've ordered her to concentrate on Ansom, but it's possible she will disobey and go the arkenpliers instead, at the first opportunity. The pliers are the YOUR first priority, if they land on the wall, get them at all costs. If they land on the ground, the knights will grab them.”
 
The knights were spread out over the ground specifically for that purpose. Their orders were to get the arkenpliers and then run for the tower. It seemed he didn't trust her with getting them. Which suited Jade fine. Time ticked away and she heard the digging of shovels into the wall.
 
Don't worry about the wall. We have Sizemore, the dirtamancer, ready to fix the gap, so we can let them get a foothold. As long as we win the engagement, we'll be able to stop them in their tracks.”
 
Jade watched the fliers come in and attack. Ansom tried to strike Wanda but she completely blocked it. Even with the uncroaked leadership and stacking bonuses the croakamancer had, it seemed a little too easy.
 
Uff... ungh! Here! What have you done to it?” Ansom appeared to agree. Then the newly created warlord struck him, and Ansom crashed into the top of the wall. He was unhurt from the fall, which wasn't surprising, given that he was wearing a crash helmet. It seemed to have taken the damage from the fall for him. Probably lost it's enchantment for the turn though, judging from the way Ansom ignored it. She made a mental note to take it, if she got the opportunity. Of more importance was the fact that he had dropped the arkenpliers. They were now descending to the ground below.
 
The timing was getting close, and there was little chance of detection, so Jade made an eight-stack with the uncroaked around her to get the best bonus. She then looked back up at Wanda. As Toma had guessed, she ordered the warlord to land and capture Ansom. Then, against ORDERS, she started to descend to get the tool herself. She wouldn't be fast enough though, Jade judged, as she could see it land directly beside one of the knights who was...
 
Charlie!”  Ansom cried out. That was her cue. He would be totally disregarding anyone around him. She silently ordered the uncroaked to kneel down as she stood up and raised her bow. “I agree to your Terms!”
 
Capturing Ansom is optimal,” Toma told her. “But the one thing that cannot be allowed is for Charlie to become involved again. He's not doing anything now but, if Ansom offers him money, that will change. The moment you hear him try. Kill him.”
 
The word 'kill' felt ugly, wrong, but Jade found herself liking it. It had a certain passion to it that croak lacked. She would do it. She would... Kill this warlord that had caused them so much trouble. Destroy the alliance. WIN this war.
 
Toma had given her several extra luckamancy points in her reserve during their last meeting and told her that they could be used on her initiative. This seemed as good a time as any to use a bit of it. She made it so that the shot she made next would be a critical success.
 
As she pulled back the string, released the bow, and watched the arrow shoot towards Ansom, she could feel it, she knew it would hit and croak Ansom. She gave a wild grin of victory.
 
Just before seeing it get disintegrated by a blast of shockomancy.
 
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With the help of my magic glasses, I stared at the tiny image of Ansom with my mouth dropped open. Impotent rage filled me, for a moment. Then I closed my eyes, took a breath, and let gamers mind wash it away.
 
“No one told me archons could do point defence,” I muttered. I was still pissed but that would no longer distract me from the job at hand. “They need to get him now, before he can sign that contract. Maggie get them to swarm him. NOW!” I continued as I opened up my eyebook. *Sigh* Time for me to engage in, what would certainly be, a futile effort at diplomacy.
 
LordHamster: Charlie! Why did you stop me from croaking Ansom? You didn't have a deal yet!
LordHamster: I have the arkenpliers. One of my knights just picked it up and is coming to the tower with it RIGHT NOW!
CharlsNChrg: I know. Your success makes this a bit awkward.
LordHamster: What's awkward? You wanted the pliers right?
CharlsNChrg: Yea... about that. I never actually expected you to get them in the first place.
CharlsNChrg: I mean, it's certainly something I want, and I have no idea when I'd get another chance, so I feel ambivalent about being forced to choose between two great payment options.
CharlsNChrg: This is the most difficult decision I've made in over a thousand turns, and there is no way to get both.
CharlsNChrg: I hope you understand that you are not the only one that is pained by my doing this.
 
My heart bleeds for you.
 
Jackass.
 
I glanced up. Jade had tried taking a few more shots as the fellows rushed Ansom en masse. The archons were quick though. Much faster than in canon. As soon as Ansom signed the agreement, they had already returned his carpet. The keshiks had their spidews most of the way up the wall beforehand, so they showed up fast, but not fast enough to stop him from flying away. They shot at him too but the archons stopped every arrow with pin point accuracy.
 
Now Ansom was headed for the knight. Of course he was.
 
And there went Wanda. Her mount was shot beneath her and she crashed into the ground like in canon. The other knights had immediately converged on her, as Sizemore quickly moved up to check her condition. I wasn't overly worried about the croakamancer though. Fate, apparently, would make sure she stayed alive. No, I was more concerned with the knight.
 
It had occurred to me that my intention to get the pliers into my hands, to see if I could attune to them instead, ASAP, also left them vulnerable to being intercepted and taken away. This was terrible planning on my part.
 
“Maggie,” I said, “Ansom is going for the pliers, we need to get some cover for the knight.”
 
“Working on it, Lord,” she replied.
 
“How's Wanda?” I asked.
 
“Alive but incapacitated, Lord. She will croak, unless she is healed before Jetstone ends turn,” she'd have been fine, if she had just landed on the wall after taking down Ansom, like I 'd told her too but NOOOOOOOO.
 
I hummed a reply to that, before going back to the eyebook.
 
 
LordHamster: WHAT DO YOU MEAN? Why would you agree to hold off the attack then? You could have beaten me at turn start.
LordHamster: The only difference between now and then is that...
CharlsNChrg: You almost got it.
LordHamster: That you are getting paid to do it now.
LordHamster: You delayed the attack, just for a chance at greater profits?
CharlsNChrg: Bingo!
LordHamster: *sigh* Ansom is bound to capture me for you, by the contract, isn't he?
 
I looked up again. Ansom had croaked the knight and gotten the pliers back. I cringed at the waste of a good unit. My fault. I should have had him stack with the other knights instead. The fact that he was going to die anyway, along with everyone else, made little difference.
 
Arkenpliers in hand, Ansom moved to Wanda, but the knights, Sizemore, and his golems were already surrounding her, so Ansom decided to get back to the wall instead. “Maggie, tell Jade to come down from the walls and assemble all units for a fighting retreat.”
 
“Fighting retreat, Lord?” Maggie questioned.
 
“I talked to Jade about it, she can clarify.” I said. Was she not there when I was talking about it? Odd. Anyway, on the off-chance that the plan failed, I had discussed with Jade the canon options. She, and the new uncroaked (who had the highest leadership bonus of the uncroaked), would each take charge of half the army and the two older ones would be exclusively for the archers and the keshiks, respectively.
 
I turned back to the eyebook and read what Charlie had written back.
 
 
CharlsNChrg: Good guess. Yes, you and your artifact, of course.
CharlsNChrg: When you're working for Charlescom, you'll learn. We prefer to play games that don't even contain a losing outcome. You see?
LordHamster: Yea. By getting paid for it first.
LordHamster: No mercenary can resist the siren call of being paid twice.
CharlsNChrg: Exactly! You're really quick on the uptake. I think we will to great things together.
LordHamster: Well, don't count your horses just yet. I still got a few tricks up my sleeve.
CharlsNChrg: Oh? Looking forward to seeing what's next.
 
'I'm so going to enjoy blowing your archons up, you smug prick,' I thought to myself as I hit the tab button to go to the second conversation. Sizemore had booked me.
 
 
ImInUrDirtz: Wanda's incapacitated.
ImInUrDirtz: Taking her to the dungeon.
ImInUrDirtz: I'm pretty sure she has healomancy spells in her private stash.
LordHamster: Wanda has a private stash of spell scrolls? Why did I not know this?
ImInUrDirtz: You didn't know?
LordHamster: NO! If I knew we had heal scrolls, don't you think I would have had you carry one or two while underground?
LordHamster: Those things could have made the difference between life and death for us and she kept it a secret?
LordHamster: GHAA. How am I supposed to win when that woman ties one hand behind my back?
LordHamster: Fine, go heal her. I'll meet you in the dungeon.
 
I stood up and closed the book. “Common everyone. We're heading to the dungeon to muster our forces, so I can lead this Titans forsaken battle. I also want to find out what Wanda has in her private stash.”
 
The casters and my lackey silently stood up and followed me out.
 
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“Why didn't you tell me you had all these spells, Wanda?” I asked, in a manner, that would have been surprisingly mild if I hadn't expected this already.
 
“You didn't...” Wanda began.
 
“DON'T TELL ME I DIDN'T ASK!” I interrupted loudly. “I clearly remember asking if there was anything else I needed to know and you said no. Are you really on our side Wanda? Why didn't you feel any duty to tell me about this?”
 
“Because it's hopeless,” she replied. “You can't win.”
 
“WRONG!” I shouted. “I can win! You summoned me to WIN.”
 
“I was supposed to summon a perfect warlord to win. That person wasn't you. Your plans fail.” she said.
 
“That is true Warlord,” Sizemore chimed in while Misty hummed noncommittally. Maggie stayed silent, of course, since she had been informed of what was really going on.
 
So, there it was. I could say lots of things. I could deflect, saying that I lost was because information was kept from me, which it was. I could say that my plans were not carried out properly by the ones I'd left to implement them, which they were. I could blame Charlie for being, well, Charlie. Seriously, that guy...
 
However, I knew that I would start failing. I knew enough about canon that I could manage Jetstone, Unaroyal, and maybe Faq, but I knew nothing about HobbitTM, and Charlie had recently reminded me that he had many, many tricks that I knew nothing about. If I built myself up as being infallible, which I honestly could have done, it would have made my future failure all the more damning. So, I'd refused to hide from Wanda that I was not a perfect warlord, right from the start. I also was not going to pass off my failures in this campaign as anyone's mistakes by my own.
 
“Okay guys, you all need to listen to me very carefully. Do plans fail? Yes. However, 'perfect strategy' does not mean one, perfect, flawless, genius plan. It doesn't mean you you never lose!” it was now time for the patented Parson strategy explanation speech. Or is that Rob Balder's speech? No matter.
 
“You guys have taught me a lot, so let me teach you something, okay? This is strategy. First...”
 
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I could have just skipped the planning and gone straight for the volcano. Ansom had attacked as soon as the turn started but the hour they'd spent charging into the city had given the column enough time to fully join in. That said, there were still army elements that stayed at the base of the mountain. I wasn't sure why but Misty had assured me that there was no one further away then at the base. Meaning the trap would now get every enemy unit.
 
I had two reasons for not doing so. The first was pure greed. Right now the coalition units were spread all over the front half of the city, meaning that half the forces would fall into the lava and disintegrate, probably. Letting them attack the garrison meant that they would be more clustered, easier to herd to the left side. There were risks but I felt the need to squeeze my canon knowledge for all it was worth.
 
However, I'm not so blinded by the idea of gains that I'd risk my casters potentially dying in combat. No, the real issue, and the one that gave me nightmares, was the idea that Ansom would leave the hex before the eruption finished croaking everyone. He was the only flying unit in the coalition that still had move left. There was a small chance that he could get away from the volcano explosion and, while I had various means to give chase, there was still a niggling worry that he might get away and, without the arkenpliers, I wouldn't get any decryption.
 
I wasn't desperate enough to ambush Ansom during a parley like Parson did, because I remembered how badly that had bitten him, but I was willing to risk a few more attempts before giving up.
 
My eyes zoomed in on the gateway. I imagined Sizemore and Jade would be popping out of a hole he'd of made to kill the Hobbit and Sofa warlords, like in canon. I had decided Jade would be best used by sticking with Sizemore, as uncroaked warlords were slow paced, normally (when controlled by the eyemancy link, they could move as fast as any normal unit, even without Wanda's leadership, but that wasn't available anymore).
 
Soon enough, I heard a massive explosion that could only have been a crap golem going off. Moments later, my book made a noise, indicating that Jade was contacting me.
 
 
JadeArrow: Toma, we just completed a successful attack on two high levelled  warlords.
JadeArrow: I managed to shoot them both, and then the rock golem grabbed them, and finished them off. Afterwards, we dragged them underground, as you wished.
LordHamster: Good job. Have the gobwins drag the bodies to a designated spot and keep looking for more opportunities.
 
Two more warlords for decryption. Score! They were high levelled ones too. Probably the highest, after Ansom. I think GK had managed to decrypt the Hobbit one but probably not the Sofa guy. Anyway, they were both ours now.
 
The gate crashed in a bit later. Those wiener-rammers are fantastic siege mounts. They were the ones I coveted the most, of all the land based units, that the coalition fielded against us. I was so going to have to find a way to get my own supply of them, somehow. Above the ones I was going to have decrypted, I mean. I needed to figure out how city production worked.
 
Wanda moved up in her red jumpsuit to join with the uncroaked. She softly began singing.
 
It's close to midnight and something evil's lurking in the dark.”
 
“Warlord?” my twoll questioned.
 
“Wanda's about to start dance fighting Bogroll,” I replied as she sung the second verse.
 
Under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops your heart.”
 
I'd finally gotten around to learning what dance fighting does. It was referred to as a bonus but, I was surprised to discover, it didn't give any bonuses at all. What it did do, was lower the defence/attack values of all enemy units in half, that were not also dance fighting.
 
You try to scream, but terror takes the sound before you make it,”
 
My fingers were snapping now and I noticed, surprisingly, that the fellows AND Wanda were joining in on this act, as they awaited the infantry rush to hit them.
 
You start to freeze, as horror looks you right between the eyes.”
 
The one exception to the malus was that direct (aka. a warlord stacked with the group) leadership bonuses were not affected.
 
Your paralyzed.”
 
Rocking out wiped out three-quarters of enemy fighting values. Which meant that when Stanley rocked out against dance fighters, the dance fighters still took one quarter loss in non-direct leadership bonuses.
 
Cause this is thriller...”
 
In canon, Wanda hadn't known this song. In truth, I hadn't remembered it too well either but, when I tried to get the book to help me recall, it did something unexpected. It managed to pull out the memory of the entire Thriller video. I had no idea that it could work this well. This was almost like having that eidetic memory upgrade I had been trying to get, before the eyemancer link was broken.
 
God, I loved dance fighting. More accurately, I loved spontaneous, choreographed, musical numbers. Which dance fighting was pretty darn close to. If I could pick one special to have from this world, dance fighting would have been it. No music though. I could actually make the instrumental portion of the song play from my eyebook, but I felt it might be too much of a distraction.
 
The difference in power was substantial. Caster leadership bonuses turned out to based, not on level but, on caster mastery. Novices gave a a plus one bonus, adepts, like Sizemore, gave a plus two. Wanda, a master class croakamancer, gave a plus four. Combine that with my plus ten leadership and a rhyme-o-mancy even the weakest uncroaked could one shot infantry and the risk of being hit in return was minuscule.
 
Now, where was Ansom? If only I had my glasses. Wait! Doesn't my eyebook also allow me to see anything I want in the hex? I opened it up and told it to show me Ansom. It worked, which made me feel dumb for having forgotten, as I probably could have gotten some more use out of this feature. He was currently talking with the archons. I felt sad that, once again, I was unable to read his stats. Every time I saw him I was either too far away, to get a good read, or I didn't have my glasses. BAH! However, he was not within the garrison area, which meant he was being wary of any spells that might be left in the tower.
 
Unfortunate, but not unexpected. Ansom and Charlie knew that I had an item that could see through foolamancy. I had given it to Misty earlier, and told her that her only job was to take down Ansom. This meant that he couldn't be veiled if he just flew in to join his men. It also meant it would take longer then in canon for him to get to them. Better yet, it meant that Sizemore would get a shot at taking him out as they come inside the garrison. Ansom had to die.
 
The fighting continued for a bit when I saw a figure fly straight up from the crowd. I assumed Sizemore and Jade had made their move. I really missed having my glasses...
 
A ray of light shot out, unerringly aimed at Ansom. Only to be screened by an archon. As were the second, third, and fourth shots. No point defence this time either. Obviously, tower shots were far too strong to be blocked by that. Arrows were also aimed directly at him, and Maggie tossed a thinkamancy spell as well, but the enemy's foolamancy was able to have them miss. By that point, Ansom had joined in with the rest of his army and... yep. The archons had started their little dance, dance, revolution game. Lovely.
 
I ordered for the final spells to be aimed at the archons leading the dance, and tried to push towards him on the ground, without any hope. We still held the leadership edge but we were also badly outnumbered. Sizemore couldn't do anything with Ansom surrounded by troops. It was pretty much over.
 
Even so, my secondary goal was go get all the coalition troops gathered together, so I kept fighting until after the walls came down.
 
It was time to begin Plan Z, my final solution. All I had to do was order the army to cover me while the casters and I headed to the dungeon.
 
Except... the casters were spread out at the moment, as was Jade. I hadn't even had those spell scrolls cast. Not to mention that it would take Misty a minute to come down and Sizemore was a ways out, underground. Actually, the coalition was really pressing us even with our superior leadership. How long could my army last without the direct bonuses of Wanda and I anyway?
 
This... this was a really bad position. I got it now. Parson's real reason for the parley. Killing Ansom wasn't the main goal, at all. He just needed to buy time to get everyone into position, to make sure the casters would be able to retreat into the dungeon, before setting off all the pit traps.
 
I hadn't seriously considered doing that myself though. I had just naively assumed that I could fight as hard as I could and then the army would buy me enough time to get to the portal room. Why is it that only now, that I could see the folly of my idea? It was so... OBVIOUS. If I tried it, they would catch up, possibly kill me, before I could escape. Even if I didn't die, others would. People that I could save by bending my pride.
 
I... I had no choice but to call a parley to surrender.
 
 
LordHamster: Charlie? I'd like to call a parley to discuss possible surrender terms.
CharlsNChrg: Valiant effort Warlord. I salute you.
LordHamster: Do you have any idea how many times your actions have beaten me? Are you sure you even want me captured?
LordHamster: Cause you seem to have the whole thing in hand. You wouldn't be pretending to want me so you can get your hands on my artifact, would you?
CharlsNChrg: Oh, don't let my victories fool you. If you weren't outnumbered so badly, I doubt even my bag of tricks could have saved the day.
LordHamster: Right. Well, tell Ansom I want to meet on the ground. I'll walk up to discuss terms.
CharlsNChrg: I will.
CharlsNChrg: Tell me. Are you actually going to surrender?
LordHamster: I'm going to actually arrange what the terms will be, at least.
 
I closed the book and we kept fighting for another minute, until the coalition stopped advancing. The moment it did, I sent Maggie a message. I then walked up to meet Ansom.
 
“Royalty. Is. Useless,” he said in the sternest tone he could manage. “I think not. By strength and by duty and by honour does Royalty lead all in the Titans' path. There is no other way. Erfworld needs no other way. These qualities which you mock in us have lead me to prevail...”
 
“You mean your ability to beg Charlie, a commoner, for help?” I interrupted. “I would have beaten you half a dozen times now, if not for him. You couldn't even win a straight fight, begging Charlie for an idea on how you could beat the commoner army before you.”
 
“I'll have you know that I already knew about that dance fighting tactic that was used,” Ansom said.
 
“Oh?” I said, seemingly surprised. “Fine, I'll admit you do seem to have won.  Perhaps... Perhaps I have misunderstood the Titans will.” I made a show of sounding contrite about it. Judging from Ansom's expression, it seemed to greatly mollify him.
 
“I would like to discuss what will be happening to my units if that happens.” I said.
 
“They'll be disbanded,” he replied.
 
“What about the gobwin tribe that we are allied with? Stanley left them behind, is there a kingdom they could ally with after Gobwin Knob is wiped out?”
 
Ansom paused, “no, I don't believe so,” he said, after some thought. “While Foxmud does not currently have any natural allies, they have no pressing need for underground units.”
 
“I see. What about the casters?”
 
“You would negotiate the surrender of the casters as well?”
 
I shrugged, “I could send them to the Magic Kingdom instead to live as barbarians but it's not an ideal life. They might be better served in a kingdom. I'm certainly not about to discard the possibility.”
 
“Which casters do you have?” from the tone of his voice, I could tell he had not expected me to make this offer.
 
“I currently have four casters in the city. A croakamancer, a dirtamancer, a lookamancer, and a thinkamancer. Where do you think they should go?”
 
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The next few minutes were spent discussing where the casters would be placed. Unaroyal had long wished for a thinkamancer. They hired out frequently to the Magic Kingdom for them, including during this battle. HobbitTM was thought to be the best fit for Sizemore. I also extracted a promise that he would not be forced to kill other units, personally, unless they invaded the capital, or the ruler's life was at stake. Ansom was greatly interested in Misty for his side. Wanda was a more difficult sell. Croakamancers are not well liked casters, particularly by this bunch. After some discussion. They decided that Transylvito would take control of her.
 
Then I had Charlie write a contract up which I signed. I made one provision in it though.
 
I made sure that if we could get rid of all enemy ground units from the garrison by the end of turn (made triple sure that the archons did not count for this), the contract would be nullified. On the other hand, if I called for a second parley, the contract would immediately kick in. Ansom asked why and I told him that duty required me to play this out until it was hopeless and there were a few desperation tactics I still could try.
 
Because, of COURSE, I wasn't surrendering. I didn't need to violate a parley to get what I needed from it, and what I needed, was time. Me negotiating where the casters would go, lying about the gobwins being abandoned, other things... It was all to give everyone else time to execute the plan without me. Maggie and Jade had been fully briefed. They were more then capable of setting everything up, without someone watching over them. All I needed was to send the message "GO".
 
Ansom actually seemed to respect my desire to fulfill my duty and didn't push. He also gave me ten minutes grace to prepare my final defence. An act that I appreciated, while also deeming it foolish. That moron had just blown his final chance to win this fight. With that done, I turned around to mount my spidew. As I did so, I noticed a very specific elf. I stopped moving. Should I say anything? Meh, why not, it would make things amusing if I ever saw him again. With that decided, I called out his name. 
 
"Odie."
 
He started and looked at me. I didn't wait for him to reply before continuing, "you still here, Odie? You're really not needed. You know that, right? You'd be better off going away, ya know what I'm saying? And you better hurry. You don't have much time left." There. He had been warned. What he did with the warning was his own business. I then took off to the dungeons. 
 
Once there, I headed, on spidewback, to the portal room. My grace period ended before I got there, but the defenders would be strong enough to hold out until I was ready. Especially since they would be fighting in a more defensible location.
 
I came into the portal room and immediately ordered the twoll that was there, not Bogroll, to get rid of my armour and to put on the robes I'd had saved. I also got my glasses back from Misty. I then looked at Maggie, Wanda, and Sizemore, who were already linked.
 
“Casters,” I said, “is it possible to uncroak the mountain?”
 
“Yes lord,” they answered.
 
“And after it's done, would it also be possible to fix the hex site, should it partially remain lava after the explosion?”
 
“Not completely. However, it should be possible to solidify the ground again.”
 
“You'd have to remain in the link for that, right?”
 
“Yes, Warlord.”
 
“Were the spells cast?”
 
“Yes, Warlord. The carnymancy spells you had purchased were expended. The two spells to render one immune to heat, for a turn, were cast on your lackey and the warlord, while the spells to render one immune to ranged attacks, for a turn, were cast on the warlord and the dwagon.”
 
Four spell scrolls. They were expensive and I wasn't sure it would be enough. Archons could hurt you in other ways then their blasts, after all. However, once the volcano started, I suspected they wouldn't be paying Jade much attention. Paying to keep Bogroll alive was nothing more then an expensive indulgence, really, but he was my lackey, dammit, and I didn't fancy him become decrypted.
 
“The warlord also had the foolamancy spells cast on her,” they continued. While foolamancy was useless against archons, it might help in getting Ansom before he left the hex. I had also used the last of my luck on her and the dwagon earlier. I kept giving them uses until I couldn't add any more. They were my final blow, so no point in holding back. I just hoped she hadn't used it up during the fighting up until now.
 
“Alright.” I said. “Dirtamancer, begin setting off the traps. Do it slowly. Herd as many coalition units as you can to the left side of the city. You guys wanted to see a fool proof plan? Well, take note. The only way to croak everyone, is to croak EVERYONE.”
 
I then waited for a few minutes, while Misty watched the results. Finally she called out. “Warlord, we've likely herded as many to the left side as we can.”
 
“I see,” I said, deferring to her judgement. “Very well. Do the rest of the traps all at once. Tunnels down. Tower down. Wreck everything but the tunnels. Do your worst.” After saying that, the ground started shaking. Well, they had been before but now it was really active. I waited until things settled down before speaking again.
 
“How many enemy units left, not counting Charlie's?”
 
“Most survivors are wounded,” they said, “but almost three thousand are not croaked or incapacitated.”
 
“Jesus. That many?” I said, as I stopped fiddling with the veil ring. Even though I inflicted greater losses on the coalition, they still saved that many? I wondered if Ansom's bonus was a large factor in keeping that many units alive. No, Toma, concentrate. Soon enough, the mathamancer stats I had come up with were now showing. My armour had been removed and the robe put on. My face was hidden in darkness, and I was wearing gloves. Not a single bit of skin was visible. I'd decided to keep the GM sword but I would carry it around, rather then leaving it strapped to my body. I guessed I was as ready as I could be for entering the magic kingdom.
 
“Casters, do it. Uncroak the volcano,” I ordered. “ Try and keep the explosion on the right side of the city hex. Tell me when it has been done and make sure to inform Jade, one last time, that the moment things start happening, she is to fly out and go after Ansom.” I waited.
 
“Lord, it is done,” they said. I didn't feel anything, but maybe when I did it would be too late? I took a deep breath. Even knowing what would happen, even if I depersonalized as much as I could, even with gamer's mind... I was ordering an atrocity, and it was impossible to be completely blase about it.
 
“Misty, time to go,” I said. “You too, casters. Get through the portal.” I watched them go through.
 
“As Chief Warlord I to hereby...” I was interrupted by a loud “Ta-Da!”
 
CharlsNChrg: What am I looking at here, Toma?
CharlsNChrg: What are you doing with the mountain?
LordHamster: I'm a petty man in some ways, Charlie. A petty, petty, man.
LordHamster: Since I can't win, I decided to take everyone down with me instead. Discussing my surrender to Ansom simply gave me enough time to set this up.
CharlsNChrg: Wait.
CharlsNChrg: There is still a way to deal.
LordHamster: Nope.
LordHamster: Sorry Charlie.
LordHamster: Your archons might survive if they move to the left side of the hex though. So feel free to try that.
LordHamster: GG
 
They'd die either way, of course, but if they were on the correct side, they wouldn't fall in the lava. Hmm, damage had begun in the portal room. I needed to go.
 
“As Chief Warlord I to hereby resign from my position as chief warlord, effective immediately.” I said and then closed my eyes, held my breath, and walked through the portal.
 
I didn't feel anything as I stepped through, but I did immediately notice that the ground had stopped shaking. I opened my eyes and looked around. There were a good dozen casters in the area. I immediately checked Misty.
 
 
Misty (plaid tribe)
Race: Man
Class: Caster; light (medium)
Level: 3
Move: 7+1=8
Hits: 5
Combat: 0+1=1
Defence: 0+1=1
Special: lookamancer
 
It worked! By resigning my position, I had made sure that the caster's stats wouldn't be absurdly high. No reason at all to suspect me of anything. I scanned the area. Several thinkamancers were there. As was a large, heavyset hippymancer, who had to be Janis.
 
“Ohhh my,” she said while fretting over Sizemore. It seemed I was being ignored by everyone but Isaac. Excellent.
 
“All right, I'll need a master-class thinkamancer to unravel this link. More then one preferably.” she continued. “I'll pay fifty rands each.”
 
“No you won't,” I disagreed in a gravelly voice, that I hoped would fool listeners.
 
“And who are you, to be saying... that?” Janis asked. I didn't like the way she suddenly started looking at me. Oh shit. She could still see my connections, I'd bet. She knew something was wrong about me, despite the veil.
 
“Parson Gotti,” I calmly replied, using the name of the original summon. I couldn't let my rising worry show in my actions. “Acting Chief Caster.”
 
“They are in a dangerous situation now. They really need to have it removed,” she replied in a slower manner now. She was trying to figure out what my deal was, I knew. I needed to get away from this woman.
 
“And it will be, but not until next turn. In the mean time, Isaac will be watching over them. Right?” help me Isaac!
 
 
“That is correct,” he smoothly said, as he came between us. “The casters from Gobwin Knob are under our protection.”
 
With that, he lead us away from the crowd to an area that had been set up already. Taking me away from Janis. Phew. I made a mental note about dealing with her next time I visited the Magical kingdom though. Maybe I could have Maggie send her a message?
 
“Are you certain that you do not wish them unlinked?” he asked.
 
“I'm not against it,” I replied, “but I need them to help fix up the damage left behind next turn. As soon as it is done though, then yes, I'll be needing to have this removed as fast as possible.”
 
“Very well. Parson, you said your name was?”
 
“Yes, I am a mathamancer.”
 
“Of course.”
 
O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O0O
 
After things settled down, I asked the thinkamancer to check on Bogroll and Jade. They were both alive, and Jade had croaked Ansom and gotten the arkenpliers. She had gotten to level 7 from all the fighting too. Total victory!
 
I then sent a message to the Tool, telling him that we had beaten the enemy but had been forced to use the final solution plan to succeed. Repairs would begin tomorrow, and all questions he had needed to be discussed in person.
 
I also told him that Ansom had been croaked. I did NOT tell him that I had gotten the arkenpliers. I had no idea what he wanted to do with them, but if I couldn't attune, then I had decided to give them to Wanda. I didn't want to, but if it was a choice between letting her attune and letting no one attune... Well, I needed her force multipliers.
 
I wasn't able to say much to Isaac freely. Given where we were. I did mention that I would be needing some more scrolls though and I wanted them before my Side started getting a bad rap from rapidly conquering Unaroyal.
 
Other then that, there wasn't much to do, it had been a stressful day and I was far too nervous to really enjoy much around here. So, before long, I'd turned in for the night.
 
DUSK. THE BATTLE FOR GOBWIN KNOB HAS ENDED.
 
Mechanics Corner:
 
  • Crash Helmet: If that thing isn't designed to absorb the shockomancy from falling, I'd be greatly surprised. My guess is that it can be used once per turn.
  • Point Defense: Shockomancy hits targets. I have no doubt that it can be used to destroy incoming projectiles. There would probably be a trade off of some sort though. Like, offensive blasts can't be used while on point defense or somesuch.
  • Dance Fighting: I gave a lot of consideration to making it a straight bonus but a line that said that it was foolish to go into a dancefight unled made me consider the idea that it worked as malus instead and that direct leadership was one of the few bonuses that was uneffected. I think this is a more interesting system then just saying +2 to stats.
  • Rhyme-o-Mancy: We see singing all the time but dance fighting needs a specific special. I interpret this to mean that the two are completely separate things but can be combined to good effect by giving the singers straight bonus to go in addition to inflicting a malus on their opponents.
  • Caster Bonus: It just seemed right to be to have set bonuses determined by mastery and leave level progression out of it. Casters don't have leadership, so their bonus should work differently.

 

Word Count: 7.4k

 
Part 10 of 11 in The Imperfect Warlord

Comments

  • thaco4

    Why get rid of the lava? It makes a perfect defense on that side against ground troops from that side. I'm really curious to see where you are going with that angle.  Otherwise, great story! Are you going to do book 2 after you are done with book 1?

  • BakaGrappler

    I was planning to wait until the last episode before gushing my admiration in a single post to review the whole project, but I need to mention this right now.  You keep saying, the damage from Plan Z will be done to the right side of the hex.  Toma then tells Charlie his units may survive if he moves them to the right side of the hex.  I'm fairly sure Toma meant the left side that time.

     

    I'm looking forward to Friday.  I half expected the "No place like home" to actually send Toma home and back to the chat room.  Let's see how far down the rabbit hole goes, shall we?

  • thaco4

    Also noticed a typo....

    “Casters,” I said, “is it possible to uncloak the mountain?”

    I believe you meant to put uncroak 

  • WurmD

    Fantastic job Toma! Just fan-tastic! 

     

    And good job on the typo-checking :D the only one I found was at the very end ^_^, in the Mechanics corner

    Rhyme-o-Mancy: Se see singing all the time
    We

     

  • arrehn

    The crash helmet might make more sense if it's one time protection, like the staff of suckage. Also many types of stupidworld helmets need to be replaced after absorbing a critical impact.

  • tomaO2

    Spelling corrected. 

    @thaco4. As you guessed, the lava will be explained more in the final chapter.

    @baka. Yes, I meant to have toma say left. WOOPS!

    @Arrehn: Staff of suckage was destroyed though. Both times. First it was snapped in pieces, the second it was disintegrated.  The helmet was only cracked, and it's been shown that damaged items can be repaired. Since it was intact, I'd rule that the helmet will repair itself next turn.

  • Pannath

    You used information that you shouldn't have had access to in this story. Toma wouldn't have a clue who Odie is, unless you're implying this story is being written from the future. You posted the first Imperfect Warlord story on July 6th, so all of your characters knowledge would have to be from web comic information previous to that. The comic that Odie appears in was posted on July 17th.

  • Beeskee

    Maybe the modded eyebook lets him read updates? :D

    I love the story so far, I think in Book 2 is where it should start to diverge though. Toolism will have an entirely different theme to it.

     

    If you run short of ideas, you could have Toma receive comments and suggestion from the forums via his eyebook. :D

  • tomaO2

    @pannath. You really think the story was first written on July 17th? I started writing this thing over a month before I posted here. I actually FINISHED the story before I started posting here. That flash forward at the start? I'm not a good enough writer to come up with that before I started writing. I added that in after I got to chapter 10 the first time around. Every time new canon showed up, I incorporated it into my story. The latest version of chapter 10 just continues the trend and I fully intend to keep doing that until I hit across something that is too big for me to fit in.

    When Rob puts your story on the front page, that means thousands of people are going to be reading it, even if there are very few comments. I wanted to make absolutely sure that I had a fully worked out narrative finished before posting here. 

    @beeskee you are very right about diverging from canon after this point. I mean the conquest of Unaroyal should go about the same until the capital is reached but anything past that is a no go. My character would not permit me from following Parson's footsteps.

    Assuming I bother to keep writing, anyway. This is a complete story, the goal was to look at book one from a mechanics based viewpoint and try to explain how it ran. Book 2 would divert from canon and be a lot more difficult to manage.

  • Pannath

    @tomaO2 Not what I said at all. Didn't think the story was written on the 17th (that's when I said the web comic containing Odie was posted), I just said that you posted the first story on the 6th of July. I didn't make any presumptions about when you started writing it,and it wouldn't have matter if I had. WHAT I did say was that Odie didn't appear in the comic until AFTER you posted your first story, implying that if your story was supposed to be about a fan from our world (you) going to Erfworld, unless you were saying that this was supposed to happen at some ungiven point in the future (as opposed to on or before the time of you posting the first chapter), the information about Odie would not have have existed for your character to read before he arrived in Erfworld, so he wouldn't haven't known who Odie was when he saw him. 

    I like your writing, and look forward to the stories. I wasn't attacking, I was just pointing out a discrepancy.

  • falcore51

    I believe earlier in the story that they didn't have magical armor equipment on hand, maybe change and had gotten all the keshiks +1 armours to

    and had gotten all the keshiks masterwork armours

  • tomaO2

    @Pannath: Hmm. I guess I didn't make myself clear.

    Let me explain it this way.  If Rob, on Friday, gave an update that said that it was Charlie that organized the gobwin rebellion of GK, I would retroactively say that I always knew it that alter the story to fit that perception. I'm not really nailing myself down to a time frame until Rob said something that I can't easily fit in, like keshiks don't exist, or somesuch. I don't want to nail my arrival to Erfworld to a specific time frame, so I don't consider the addition of Odie to be a 'flaw' I chose to rewrite what I had already finished, after the fact to incorperate the new information. 

    @falcore: master work armours give a +1 to defence. If a +1 magical enchantment were put on a master work armour, it would become a +2 armour. +1 armour and masterwork armour is supposed to be an interchangeable term. 

  • Beeskee

    I hope you do book 2. :D

    I realize it's a lot of work tho. ^.^

    You could cover huge portions of it in summary, same as Rob did with the 60+ turns between when Parson was in charge.

  • thatonesungod

    I would Certainly love to see this story continued and i think you are a great writer, even if this story has some pretty powerful source material backing it up

  • Ditto

    Pannath - Note the Rob himself has 'cheated' the timeline of Erfworld vs. Realworld, as has been discussed on the forums before. Parson has referenced pop culture that did not exist/was not prevalent as of the date the comic was first published, so either has a magic pop culture ticker in his head keeping him up to date; the current timeline in universe retroactively counts days backward from today's date, rather than forward from the start date of the comic; or it's a work of fiction, and we're rounding a little bit. Rob's pop culture was off by years (Rage Faces, for instance), so it's silly to nitpick Toma for 2 weeks given that Parson's already cheating in the same universe.

  • WurmD

    I loved your story so much, that I read it again! ^_^

     

    and found another typo XD

    I needed to get away from this women

    should be woman, right?

  • tomaO2

    spelling corrected. 

  • Keybounce

    I am just up to the point where Charlie is signing a contract with Ansom.

    I am surprised by one thing. Charlie has plenty of money. Signing a contract to get more money, when he could do a deal with parson for the pliers, or even just wait until parson is weaker next turn to take the pliers, seems like the wrong choice.

     

    He has a difficult choice to make, yes. But money he can get any time. The pliers he might never get another chance to get.

     

    I'll keep reading, and see if Charlie explains this choice any better. I hope he does. This would have made a great place to take a surprise break from canon.

     

    (If you change things for the main characters, you have to change the rest of the world. If you make Harry Potter smart, and leave everyone else unchanged, then Voldemort is unmasked in a month. See "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality", htts://www.hpmor.com for an example of this.)

  • Keybounce

    Hmm ...Charlie still seems to be just "I'll get everything anyways eventually".

    I do hope he starts treating "Parson" differently now. And ... he's telling the MK that he's Parson, but he told Charlie that he's Toma ... ooohhhh, this ought to make for an interesting future conflict.

  • tomaO2

    @Keybounce: It's pretty clear Charlie didn't want the arkenpliers. If he wanted them he could have taken them for himself next turn, like Parson suggested in canon, because it was pretty clear, at that point, that GK was winning well enough to be able to hold out that turn. 

    I am well aware of making the villain stronger to fight against the powered up hero. However, that is not the story I was writing. My goal is to stick to canon, and use that as a vehicle to explain the mechanics of all the things we run into. Therefore, even if I continue into a book 2 or 3, it will never really deviate from canon. There will be no power ups for the enemies, because powering them up has no basis in canon. My sold intent is to explain the mechanics of erfworld, in a hopefully enjoyable way. Which means this is staying firmly in the realm of the fixfic. I also hope my mechanic ideas get implemented by other authors on the website.  I mean, I made a thread where I just wrote down a bunch of rules earlier on. No one was interested in that. This seems a better way to advertize my ideas.

    I like the idea of using a fake identity for the magical kingdom. I have a mathmancy bracer, and no stats, so it should be easy to pretend to be a caster over there. With that done, there will be a LOT less antagonism from the MK.