The Imperfect Warlord (Chapter 11)

Part 11 of 11 in The Imperfect Warlord
Chapter 11:  MK&Lava, Jade&AP, Wanda&Toma, Attuned&Laughter, Ansom&Sylvia, UnCroakedElves, Farrah&42, Tool&Dwagons, Misty&Jack, Maggie
Leaving the Magic Kingdom was simple enough. I told Isaac that the casters would be back to have their link broken, as soon as the task was done, and we walked out. Easy as you please. Another advantage in favour of the Great Minds not knowing about me was that there would be no arguments on whether or not to keep me in the Magic Kingdom, as happened to Parson.
Arriving back in GK, we were greeted by Jade and Bogroll. Both were unaffected by the night's events, thanks to the spell scrolls. A bit past them, you could see the lava lake. There was no heat from where I was standing though, even though we were quite close. Movie physics, I supposed. You only got burn damage by physically touching the blisteringly hot object.
“Casters,” I said, “check the magma, can you re-solidify it back into solid ground so we can use it as a city site, along with the upper part?” They had thought they could last night...
“Yes, Lord,” they answered.
“Great! Use the last bits of your juice on that and, when dawn comes, keep going until there is just a river flowing around the outer edge. The important part is getting a solid land mass but also try and fill out enough below, so that we can create a new tunnel area."
“Yes, Lord.”
“First thing though, I believe there are a lot of gems around. Uncroak two stacks worth of digger units and have them get to work by directing them to the most accessible deposits. We'll be needing smuckers to upgrade the city back to a level 5.” Probably anyway. I had no idea how much it would cost.
Anyway, linked as they were, finding the appropriate bodies was simple and, within two minutes, a group of shambling undead were moving around, doubtlessly going to the various areas that Sizemore had marked off.
“Misty, check where the croaked are located on the nearby hexes and then start scanning for any threats. Bogroll, you stay here and keep an eye on them. Jade? Come with me.” We walked off to where the casters couldn't hear before I asked, “did you get them?”
She smiled and said, “pliers are right here, Toma.” I already knew she hadn't attuned, because that sort of condition would have showed up on my stat scan, if Stanley was any indication.
“Great, hand them over,” I ordered. She did so. Grabbing them, I felt a sensation of power. It overflowed through me and I knew that I no longer needed Wanda. I knew that the Titans had chosen me to carry out their divine....
Nope... No, that didn't happen at all. *sigh*
Without much hope, I pointed them at a nearby corpse and said “decrypt.”
Nothing. Dammit.
“Tool,” I shouted, as soon as I found him, “we're done!”
“Flippen finally,” he called out. “ We can rebuild the city now, right?”
Tool had arrived shortly after dawn. We'd met in the courtyard. We talked, he praised me a bit and then chewed me out. He was pretty excited about Jade having croaked Ansom. He asked where the pliers were, but I said that Ansom had dropped them somewhere, and we would be looking as soon as the city was rebuilt. Jade didn't disagree, as I had already told her that they were Fated to go to Wanda, so I'd just directly give them to her.
I also explained about having to resign as chief, because I didn't want the Magic Kingdom to know that there was a warlord that could enter the portal without getting croaked. I also told him about Charlie being able to hack the eyebooks and that I was worried about thinkamancy communications. He listened and eventually re-appointed me as chief warlord. It probably helped that I now had a level 10 leadership. Too bad Ansom, no chiefdom for you.
“Of course, we can rebuild the city, my Tool,” I replied. “The fellows that Wanda uncroaked have found more then enough gems to rebuild Gobwin Knob as a complete level 5 city again, only it'll be even BETTER.”
“Smaller though,” he said. I nodded at that.
“True enough,” I agreed. The lake... No. Wrong word. The MOAT still took up 10% of the outer half of the city it blew up, which equaled 5% of the total site still unusable. Plus, a fair amount of space had to be made for the stairs to get between the now tiered city sections. “But the lava lake will completely prevent infantry from being able to attack along that half, so we can devote the walls to anti-air exclusively. Half the city geared for ground, while half for air? It's NEVER been done before!”
I wished that I could get it to encircle the city completely but it wasn't practical given its tiered status. For now anyway, the defensive implications of having a lava moat fully encircling the city were too tempting to ignore forever.  
“Not too keen on this drop either.”
“Neither am I, but we can put in a stairway for it, until I can figure out a way to flatten all the land for the city hex again,” I said. “Any time now, Tool.”
“Right,” he said. “I order for this city to be rebuilt.”
As soon as he gave the order, it happened, we were near the edge of the high end of the city site, at the river of lava that spread around the far edges of the area. A sound, like a wind chime, with a whoosh of orchestral cymbals, was heard. Enormous, blinding magical sparkles filled the sky and the ground. And then the city was simply standing again, fully intact. A stubby guard wall came up, it was about waist high for me, and further down, was a very wide staircase to get to the lower level. There was no more rubble, not even a wisp of settling dust. Far away, the lava was no longer visible as tall outer walls covered it all up.
“Now that this is done, lets get the link broken,” I said. “Tool, can you send a message to the casters?”
“Yea, already done.”
One of the bright spots of this is that they didn't have to move far from the gate. It shouldn't take too long before they were separated this time around. Given that they hadn't been linked for too long.
“So, Wanda. Let's talk,” I said as I pulled out the arkenpliers.
“What do you wish to talk about, Lord Toma?” she asked, as her eyes fixated on the arkentool.
“Fate,” I replied. “It was predicted that you'd attune to an arkentool one day, was it not?”
“Ah,” she said, surprised. “How did you..." She trailed off as I narrowed my eyes, mentally ordering her to just answer the question. "Yes. It was a predictamancer who told me...”
“In Faq.”
She started at my interruption. “Yes. In the hidden kingdom of Faq.”
“That you destroyed, after selling it out to Stanley,” my eyes narrowed.
“That wasn't my intention!” she said, defensively. “Stanley seemed an imbecile. I imagined he would lose and his artifact would fall to me.”
“But he didn't lose, did he?” I asked rhetorically. “And so you turned on your own kingdom and then manipulated Stanley into questing for the other arkentools. All so you could get your hands on these.” I waived the pliers around. “You are the reason our side ended up as a single city. Your actions have almost destroyed Gobwin Knob.”
“Wanda,” I continued, “it's pretty clear that you're not actually loyal to Stanley at all. Combine all this with how your secrecy has hurt our side and I'm sure you can understand why I'm not thrilled at handing these over to you.”
“I am loyal to Fate magic. I play what parts I must. You do not know what I have done. Or yet may do.”
“And what are you to do, assuming you are given these pliers and attune?”
“I must unite all the arkentools together.”
“That's it?”
“No other prophesies at this time? No lies, no deceptions? No plans to take over the world? The sum total of what you need to do is simply unite the arkentools?”
“Yes. Nothing else.”
“But if there was. You'd keep it a secret, right? You'd say anything to get these,” I lifted the arkenpliers to emphasize them again.
“I am telling you everything,” she looked sincere when she said it. Silence reigned for a few moments as I considered my next words.
“I'm sure you must realize that I, too, am an instrument of fate. There are several prophesies foretelling things that I must accomplish. If I say that I will also help unite the arkentools, will you follow me? Not fate, but ME, Wanda?
“I can't have you working behind my back. Wondering when you will decide that your fate needs you to back-stab this kingdom. I have my own fate to accomplish, and, to do it, I need this side INTACT, at least, for now. No more secrets, no more lies. If you find out something new. You tell me. I get final say, as long as we remain allied. Despite how much you say you are just trying to follow fate, the ways you chose made things harder then they needed to be. You wiped out at least one kingdom beforehand, and you almost caused this one to be destroyed as well. I rather suspect that these are not the only times that sort of thing has happened because of you. It's a feeling I get.”
“...Very well,” she reluctantly acquiesced. “I swear that I will follow you for as long as your goal is also to unite the arkentools.”
“I don't fully trust you yet,” I said. “Which is a pity, because there are many things that would be greatly simplified if I could. Don't lie to me again, Wanda. I mean it. If you receive another prophesy telling you what to do, then you come talk to me first and I promise to help you with it, as long as it doesn't interfere with my own fate. Which it shouldn't, because I am not aware of prophesies that conflict. Understood?”
“Understood,” she repeated.
I sighed. “Guess that will have to do. Catch” I said as I tossed her the arkenpliers. She caught it in one hand as I saw the tool light up with red sparkles. Her stat board jumped upwards, and she suddenly had “attuned” as a special, Just like Stanley.
Wanda began to laugh. Loudly.
“I... What am I?” Ansom asked. While Wanda gave a shit eating grin at her accomplishment.
Ansom Lunesta (Croatan tribe)
Race: Decrypted (man)
Class: Warlord; light (medium)
Level: 10
Move: 7+3=10
Hits: 5+2=7
Combat: 4+4+10+4+5=27
Defence: 4+4+10+4+5=27
Special: Royal; dance fighting
He had a last name... I had never seen ANYONE with a last time until now. Why? How? Gah. I'd think about it later.
Moving on, I finally got to see the stats of a royal. They seemed identical to the stats of the various nobles I'd seen. Just a simple +1 to attack and defence. Stanley and Wanda, being attuned, had acquired higher bonuses. I was particularly interested to note that Ansom's tribal affiliation was the same as Wanda's now. A lot of bonuses for his combat stats. Base four, +4 levelling bonus, +10 self-leadership, +4 from Wanda's decrypted same hex bonus, and +5 from the chief warlord (me) same hex bonus.
I walked over to Ansom and explained. “You've been popped anew Ansom. Wanda here has attuned to the arkenpliers, and decrypted the secrets of death to bring you back. You are all that you were, only now you require no upkeep, and you serve a new mistress.”
“How can you know those things?” Wanda asked. “As you say it, I can feel the truth but even I did not know until you said it.”
“Show me our paths are aligned, and perhaps one day I can share it with you,” I replied. “ I told you that you would understand the reasons I had preserved those bodies. I had the two rock golems, that survived the volcano, move some of the bodies around for when you attuned. We'll be needing a new army. You know what to do, Wanda.”
“Of course, Lord Toma,” she said, her grin returned, as she moved off to start her mass decryption. I turned back to the former Prince of Jetstone.
“How is your memory, Ansom? Do you remember me? Your past life?” I asked.
Ansom gave a look of concentration as he replied, “I remember most things. But I see them all quite differently now.”
“How so?”
“Well! You were correct of course, Royalty is useless.”
“I was, perhaps, overstating things when I said that.”
“I think not. You defeated me, and a coalition of royal powers. But there is more to the Titans' will then 'whom they left in charge.' Here I stand as proof of a higher expression.”
“The royals would likely call you nothing more then a deluded brainwashed puppet for saying such things.”
“They are misguided, as I was, before this happened.”
“We'll need to prove it.”
“We shall. I will be your captain now. We shall bring about a new Titanic order. We will conquer the whole world.”
“Ansom... have you ever seen a side big enough to encompass a dozen or more capital sites?”
“...I must admit I have not.”
“They become decayed. Sickly,” I told him. “Should we wish it, conquering the world is an inevitability with the power of the arkentools on our side, but would we be ruling better than the royals have?”
“But surely Mistress Wanda would be able to improve this.”
“Naturally, but she is still only one woman. Grow too big, too fast, and things will be neglected. In my mind, showing our military might is not enough. We must find better ways of running our kingdom, ways that even the more die-hard Royal will have to admit are better then what is the norm.”
Ansom adopted an expression of confusion at this. “So your plan is not to conquer?”
“Not the world.” I replied. “Not yet, anyway. However, that doesn't mean we shouldn't show off our power by wiping out a few nearby kingdoms. I'm thinking Unaroyal to start.”
“Ah, I see.”
I grinned as a clapped him on the back, “so, let's not get ahead of ourselves. One nation at a time, yea? If you want to be my captain, that is fine by me. I am very aware that you are one of the most respected military leaders in the world, and fully deserving to have become the Wanda's first decrypted unit. Go talk to Maggie, I want you to gather up all the ground forces with 18 move and more and put the best riders we got on all the mounts. I want a strike force moving out towards Warchalking," I'd finally memorized the name of that city, "as soon as Wanda is done decrypting, so we can take it in three turns.
“Wanda and I join up with you on the fliers in time for the attack,” I finished. “I have full confidence in your abilities, so, when we meet again, I want to see a detailed plan on how we will be conquering Unaroyal.”
“I shall get on it immediately, Chief Toma,” he said, obviously pleased with my statements, as he marched off. I looked over at Wanda, as I saw her magic hit hundreds of troops. One, in particular, was near me.
“I'm... alive?” she asked.
“Seems that way, Scarlet,” I said, using her fan name that we called her, before her real name was known.
“My name is...”
“I know your name, Sylvia Lazarus, ” I said. “Reborn from the fire of lava, I feel that calling you Lady Scarlet Flame is an appropriate new title. Do you like it?”
She was still a little overwhelmed by the new situation. “Scarlet. Flame?” she asked.
“It's appropriate, is it not?” I repeated. “I'll be needing someone to burn my enemies and there is something about you that makes me believe that you would make the perfect scarlet flame to do so, or shall I find another?”
“NO!” she shouted. “That sounds... perfect for me. I would be honoured to take that title.”
“Oh? I'm less sure now. Is it really more fitting for you than the others in this city?” I pretended disinterest.
“Yes,” she said, standing up. “When I was a Level 1 stabber, I got trapped in an enemy garrison we blazed up. I was burned to a cinder. But we had this carnymancer who really liked me. He saved me from croaking by rigging the incapacitation rules on me.
“You were a level 1 stabber?" I already knew that, of course, but her stat board was showing something completely unexpected and I needed to understand. "How is it that you are a noble?”
“Oh. That's a big secret over at Unaroyal. All the warlords there are promoted infantry, we have a changemancer that can make us noble.”
Huh. I knew changeovers could give new, permanent, properties to inanimate objects, but had no idea they could do the same for living units. That had... Possibilities.
“And a findamancer to pick the best units for promotion, right?” I asked, remembering just what caster types Unaroyal had.
“Usually,” she agreed. My god. To just admit something like this so casually. Given royal snobbery, this must have been one of their greatest secrets. If the other royal sides learned about this, it would have been a huge black mark. Even knowing how completely Wanda's tool changed loyalty, it was still surprising.
“Usually, but not in your case? You were sent here as a test, right?” I guessed.
“Yeah, another warlord was sent to supervise and see if I had the right stuff to lead.” Woa. So, there was another Unaroyal warlord out there that hadn't been mentioned in canon? How had I not noticed this?
“Interesting,” I said, smiling. “Well, it truly does seem that you are indeed a most suitable choice for that title, after all. For now, make sure to join in on Ansom's group, he'll be assembling a task force to begin laying waste to the enemy.”
“Yes Chief!” she replied as she moved on. I, in turn, focused on Wanda again as I moved to catch up.
“Ansom is mustering the troops,” I told Wanda. “I want him to be able to be able to send all of our best decrypted ground units before turn's end.”
“At my current rate of decryption, that should be possible,” she replied.
“The air force can join later. The archons, in particular, are units I have plans for on this turn.”
“I'm sure you noticed that Stanley was not to pleased when he found out that you attuned.”
“I did.”
“Yea, well, doing some fancy celebration is not going to make things better. We need to make him feel like he's growing as well.”
“You have a plan for that?”
“Of course,” I wondered for how much longer I would be able to say my favourite catchphrase, 'I have a plan'. Canon knowledge would not last forever. “I can just use the archons, with foolamancy, to scout the area to find dwagons.”
“Which would allow Tool Stanley to go out and tame them.”
“Right,” I replied as she shot another beam at one of the wiener-rammer corpses.
“Look,” she said. Delighted. “I can decrypt many unit types that were impossible to uncroak before.”
“I am,” I replied, smiling. “It's an incredible power. I'm hoping you will be able to decrypt the gwiffens as well. However, I can't help but notice that the elves and marbits are not decrypting.”
“Ah,” she said, becoming a bit downcast. “It doesn't work on them, for some reason.”
“Likely because of the fact that they can't join a side that already has gobs and hobs,” I suggested. “However, can't you uncroak them?”
She paused, as her posture straightened. “I hadn't thought about it.”
“Oh? Perhaps because you feel that uncroaking is beneath you, now that you appear to have powers on the Life axis?”
“No,” her response was quite vehement. “Life is not better then motion.”
“Well then, why don't you uncroak that body over there?” I suggested.
Wanda looked at the elf corpse as she clipped her pliers back onto her belt and used her normal magic. The result was a surprisingly well put together uncroaked.
“Impressive,” I said. “I can't even see the fire damage on it. It's the best looking fellow I've seen since getting here, and you didn't even put any work into it. How long before it decays?”
“It won't,” Wanda said, marvelling. “I can create uncroaked as effortlessly as I can decrypt, now, and, like the decrypted, they will not decay.”
“Makes sense, “ I said. “Charlie can do unlimited thinkagrams, so you should be unable to create unlimited uncroaked. Honestly, the real surprise is that your abilities moved to full on resurrection. Make sure to get them all as well. Also, give them the livery that is adorning the walls, okay? I get why you are doing that with the decrypted but it would help if Stanley had units that were not so blatantly yours.”
“I shall,” she replied.
“Oh,” I said, after spotting a bunch of yellow. “There's the gwiffens, finally. Can you bring them back too?”
“Lets find out,” she replied, as she re-equipped the pliers and shot out a beam of red.
Turned out that it did work. I ordered Wanda on one of the gwiffens so she could continue to decrypt faster and get the units around the mountain, after she joined up with Misty to point them out. I also tried to ride them but these were the SMALLEST heavies I had ever come across. Their stat boards said they qualified as heavy (medium). Apparently that meant that light (large) units, like myself, couldn't ride them. Meaning I would need dwagons to travel around. Not a big hardship. I decided to go up to Maggie and wait for Wanda to finish decrypting the archons.
Farrah (Croatan tribe)
Race: Decrypted (man)
Class: Archon; light (medium)
Level: 6
Move: 40+6=46
Hits: 6=6
Combat: 4+2+2+4+5=17
Defence: 4+2+2+4+5=17
Special: Flight; shockomancy; thinkamancy; foolamancy; dance-fighting; dollamancy; leadership
The strongest of Charlie's angels that had once so vexed me (well, in truth, it was mainly just Jaclyn but Farrah was also there), was now one of my strongest servants. Even among her own class, which was, basically, a flying knight equivalent, with a bunch of magic specials thrown on top, she stood out.
I looked up and down the line. Forty-two in all. I had thought there'd be forty-five corpses but I had clearly got mixed up a bit with my whole '50% more archons then in canon' recollections. No matter. I quickly put together the basics.
Level 6 seemed to be the cut off point for gaining new specials. Which, aside from flight, they seemed to gather one per level. The highest levelled one was level 9, after that the next highest was level 7, then four level 6s. The rest were all levels 2 to 5. Probably some had been level 1 before that mass kill of all my fliers in the sky.
I'd already known the specials they got were random, but it was also pretty clear that specials did follow a general order. Shock and thinking seemed to usually pop up in the beginning, while doll and leadership showed up around the end. Fool and dance seemed to be mid-level specials. This is generally speaking, of course, but the trend seemed clear looking at them.
An interesting trait I noticed about them is that they seemed to gain a much bigger movement bonus for levelling than ground units did, while not being able to upgrade their health at all. This was odd because the heavy fliers could gain hp. Perhaps it was because of their light status? It was clear that they were fragile glass cannons.
The leadership bonus they could get seemed to go up once every four levels. So levels 1-4 gives a +1 to leadership, Levels 5-8 gives +2, and levels 9-12 gives +3.
“All archons with foolamancy step forward,” I ordered. Two-thirds of the number did so. It was enough.
“I want all of you to do a complete scouting of the area,” I continued, wishing Misty was around but Wanda had gotten her, in order to find the remaining dead that were around the city. “Make sure no veiled units are within at least twelve hexes from our city and keep an eye open for any dwagons that are in the area,” everything within twelve hexes also happened to make up four hundred and eighty hexes, which was more then enough to find two dwagons, on average.
“After you are done, report back to me if you have any findings. Dismissed,” I finished. Alright, things are looking up. Wanda had finally finished reviving everything in the city and had gone out for the adjunct hexes. Ansom was well under way for organizing the troops too. I called another archon over to send a message to Don. I needed to know what his plans were for Jillian.
Don King's plans for her seemed the same as in canon. Seems my earlier talk, and Jillian's failure to predict Stanley's location, was no match for exploding mountain worries. I tried to bribe him into turning her over to GK instead, but no dice. It was fine with me though. If he put her on the throne, I would smash it, HARD, and take the cities for my own. Not right away though. I needed to make sure that it would be able to weather a massive counter-attack, since I wouldn't want to raze them this time around. I did have a lot of ground troops though, even if none of them were mountain capable. Maybe I could send some to tunnel under the mountains? Worked in Book 0. Problem with that was that Charlie would be looking to make her an ally. I'd need to devote some more archons to staying with them, so I'd know if their cover was blown or not.
More importantly, I used the opportunity to mention that I had been deposed as Chief Warlord. I knew Charlie was probably listening in, and I wanted to seem more approachable to him. I'd need to talk with the archons to make sure they didn't accidentally blow my cover through a misplaced thinkagram. I made a note to talk to them about it. OH, and I needed to talk to the Tool about using hats instead of thinkagrams now. I'd do it after I got the dwagon locations.
“Tool,” I called out.
“What is is Hamster?” Stanley asked. He was clearly in a bit of a bad mood.
“I bring good news, and bad news, and more good news,” I replied.
“Oh yea? What's the bad news?”
“We found out that Charlie can access the eyebooks. It makes me a bit leery of what else he might be able to access. Not sure how secure our communications are. We'll need to talk to Maggie about it but I'm recommending that we don't use the eyebooks anymore to talk and cut back on the thinkagrams.”
“What about the good news?”
“We got lots of hats after the volcano eruption. We can switch to using them.”
“Ehh, I'll think on it. Hats are a bit lame, Hamster. What's the other good news?”
“Well, as you know, Wanda has managed to bring back many of the croaked units that died in the volcano.”
“Yea, so what?” he asked, sullenly.
“I sent the archons out to scout the area.” I told him “Since they are archons, they can make sure that no veiled units are around and they found the locations of three dwagons!”
“Oh yea?” he said, perking up.
“Yes, my tool. We currently have two dwagons with full move in the city and, after looking at the locations, they seem to have enough move for you to be able to go out and tame them.”
“Yes. I figure we can keep enough archons around to find two a turn, and it would be completely safe.”
“Huh. I was just thinking of reforming the caster link, so I could start hunting again, but this sounds a lot better.”
Holy shit. I'd forgotten the reason why he had that link in the first place, and Misty was still alive this time around, so this was not an idle threat. Suddenly, having archons to do this went from being important, to being critically important. I was NOT letting the casters get stuck in that link again.
“With the gems we are getting,” I said, ”we could upgrade a lot of the nearby cities to level three and get them pumping dwagons as well,” I mentioned. I bet we could be up to a hundred in as little at thirty turns.”
“That...” Stanley said. “Would be awesome.”
“I agree. I'm really excited about how the decrypted will let is get even MORE dwagons then otherwise possible.”
“You mean with the scouting?”
“No. I mean with the no upkeep. All the useless units can be decrypted and moved to other cities while we focus all the revenue to paying the upkeep of our natural allies and dwagons!
“More dwagons is always good.”
“The archons told me that Charlie keeps a fleet of around six hundred archons, so I'm going to go for a goal of at least that many dwagons for us.”
“That'd be... a LOT of dwagons.”
“Heck yea. Means a lot of taming on your part. Ready to start?”
“HA, just try and stop me!”
Less then an hour until turn's end but the preparations were made. Thanks to careful positioning before the volcano explosion, roughly seventy percent of the the attacking army had managed to be salvageable, either as uncroaked or decrypted. The gobwin and hobgobwin tribes had survived. We had thirty-seven dwagons, after Stanley's successful expedition. All five casters had survived. We had forty-two archons and eleven gwiffens, the latter of which would make a great relay network, for the short term. We had lots of smuckers after Sizemore and the tunnellers got to work. I knew the dirtamancer was upset about what he'd done. So, after he had spent all his juice for the day, I told him he had leave to visit the Magic Kingdom, until next turn start.
We had decrypted a total of eight warlords. The coalition had nine warlords, originally, but Wanda had  uncroaked one. Jetstone had actually brought four warlords total, not three. I was amused to find out that the mystery warlord was a level 2 called Barry, who had been a forum joke some time back. I was interested in the fact that his livery was slightly different from the other units, the normally black sections were red. Possibly worth looking into?
I also met the supervisor warlord from Unaroyal, that had been watching over Scarlet. Interestingly, that warlord was of a higher level than she was. The other allies had all brought in one warlord each. The strongest one being, surprisingly, the one from Hobbit TM, at level 7. I made her city manager of Gobwin Knob, put Nozzle in charge of the slower decrypted, that would fill up the cities after they had been taken over, and sent the other decrypted with Ansom, as he prepared to move out his elite force.
I was interested to note that the spidews were the slowest mounts on our side and, thus, were not a part of the strike force. I supposed that this was one of the disadvantages of their increased mobility. It made them impractical for blitz tactics. Wanda, Jade, and I would be heading out next turn with the fliers.
I breathed a sigh of relief after he'd gone as I checked my notes for the umpteenth time, trying to recall if there was anything I'd forgotten. Nothing came to mind though. I finally decided to move onto the less time critical tasks and called a meeting of the casters.
“So, just eighteen archons would be enough to search over four hundred hexes?” I asked surprised. "How is that possible?"
"Our rainment, Lord," replied Ferrah, who was my current go to girl, as she pointed to her outfit.
"I don't follow."
"It allows us to avoid all terrain based movement penalties."
"It can do that?"
"Yes Lord."
I sat back and thought about this. It made a lot of sense, now that it had been mentioned. They had that rain gear that avoided all weather based penalties. It only made sense that their normal outfits were also magical, and being able to move around quickly would be a priority for archons, given how Charlie hired her archons out all over the world.
“I can also help narrow it down a bit, as well, Lord,“ Misty said
“Really? I thought you couldn't find beasts outside of a link,” wasn't that the reason Stanley had pushed for it?
"No, I can. It was just really hard, and I couldn't do that when there were other priorities instead, such as scouting the area for enemies. Plus, I'm more experienced now with my discipline. It's... sort of like looking through different filters, when you are trying to focus on one unit type over another.”
“Oh. I get it, and with the archons scouting the area, you can focus on finding beasts to tame.”
“Exactly, warlord!”
“Alright, if your help can boost it up to three dwagons a turn, that would be great. However, I'll also need you to be making some scrolls, so split your juice between the two for the next while.” I turned to the croakamancer. “Wanda, this turn is probably your last chance to get any materials from the Magic Kingdom for awhile. No one knows about your attunment yet and, honestly, I expect that our side is going to get a bit of a bad reputation as we start conquering cities in the next few ten turns. By the time we get back to the capital, there will be considerably more eyes on you.”
“There are a few items I would like to purchase,” she said.
“Alright, you have the turn to do so. However, tomorrow, you'll be heading out to the front lines,” I told her. “Also, I'm not really sure about how secure our thinkamancy lines are, after seeing Charlie hack the eyebooks. So keep the books and the archon use restricted until I say otherwise. Also, I'm planning on letting Ansom take the lead for the next while, so, when you DO refer to me over the lines, don't mention that I'm still chief warlord.
“I'm not sure I understand the worry.”
“You don't have to. It's an order, and I expect the archons to fall in line. Also, one of the archons is a level 9. I want her to become your personal attendant and guard. She will be making sure you don't do anything too rash. You are forbidden to tell her to do anything that would jeopardize you. Such as wondering into a combat zone, without proper backup. I'll be making sure she reports anything that I consider high risk behaviour.”
“Very well, Lord Toma.”
“Alright, you are dismissed,” I said, as I moved on to Jack.
“First off,” I said as I tossed him a familiar object, “here is an eyebook. Although I don't want you using the communications, for the most part. There may be a time where it would be valuable to have it. Also, I don't care to let these things to gather dust.
“Very well, my good warlord,” he replied. With this, I had given a book to all the casters, except for Maggie. One for me, one for the Tool, and one for Jade. Two more left, out of the nine available.
“I was also wondering if you could help me out a bit. I was greatly interested in that battle board you set up while linked. I'd like to do something similar. Make a tactical simulator. You'd have to run a big battle map and animate it to represent the match-ups and scenarios I'll run on my bracer.”
“I figure it would be fun, you could do so many interesting things that I couldn't if I stuck to figurines and maps, Maybe give me things like save points and point of view angles. I could really dig into how battle tactics work.
“You are about to begin a campaign that would allow you to 'dig in' to combat, are you not?” Jack asked.
“Pfft, the next month or so will be having cities fall over like nine pins. I'm delegating most of the work to Ansom for now, and just double check his plans. In the mean time, if Tool Stanley allows it, I want to be taking you with me so we can work on more interesting match-up and learn things about war.”
“Sounds most interesting, my good Lord. Very well, I'm willing to partake in this exercise and learn something about war.”
I smiled. “Good man.”
I made time for a private talk with Maggie. I told her to make sure to head down to Isaac in the coming days and let him know what was going on. I then went over to Jack and, along with Jade, I started running a few different scenario ideas. There was still more to do. I was thinking of inviting Stanley along for the first city take-over. It was close enough that there was no real worry about bad things happening.
I also wanted to take the casters with me, so they could start levelling up. All the masters I had seen seemed to be at least level 7 but I figured that I they could achieve it at level 6 as well, so at least that high. If we captured enough prisoners at War-whatever (dammit, wasn't I saying I had finally memorized the name earlier today?), I might be able to get Maggie up to that level right away.
That could wait for tomorrow though. It had been a long day, so I figured I deserved some time to relax playing imaginary games, where nothing you did had any chance of killing someone.
I spent the rest of the turn like that. To my surprise, Misty ended up joining in too. I supposed that there should have been a bit of a celebration or something, given how momentous the victory was, but I was satisfied by being able to play around.
And that is how I finished the seventh day after being summoned to win the Battle of Gobwin Knob.
Mechanics Corner:
  • Ansom Lunesta: I'm going to say it right out, the reason I can only read first names for the stat board is because making up last names becomes far too varied, since I have to make up a new one for every character I see, and will likely end up being proven incorrect later on. Ansom is the exception, however because he's  the direct descend of Lunesta, one of the original 99 royals. It makes sense that he would carry her name. I figured being a direct descendant would be important enough for the glasses to pick it up.
  • Last Names: All Erfworld units have them, even infantry have them. However, only the ruler can pass their name down to their descendants. This is because it is the only unit that can have children. 
  • Lava: I think that the lava could be re-solidified with a link. I don't see a way around it being tiered though.
  • Scarlet: Is is really possible for a changemancer to be able to alter a commoner unit to a noble? I have no idea. Maybe it's something that you'd also need a carny help out with. However, I find the idea just fascinating. Something like that would be a MAJOR secret for the side that is surrounded by royal snobs. It doesn't hurt that Unaroyal got axed in canon so it would be hard to disprove it.
  • Uncroaking: We know Wanda can uncroak marbits even if she can't decrypt them. She can probably uncroak elves as well. I suspect the reason she can't decrypt is because allied tribes can't join a side with their racial enemies. That fine but WHY don't we see her uncroaking anything anymore??? I can only conclude she has gotten so enamored with decryption that she just hasn't bothered to experiment how her normal spells have been enhanced as well. I'd bet that if she did try, she would be able to make unlimited, perfectly formed, uncroaked that didn't degrade.
  • Archon specials: They are random but we've never SEEN an archon without shockomancy. There seem to be common and uncommon abilities, so I quantify that there is a general order to when they gain their specials.
  • Archon Leadership: Canon says that +3 is the most that's ever been seen, so +1 every 4 levels seems reasonable.
  • Slow Spidews: I didn't see any of them during the blitz attacking. Which means they would be under 18 move. I would say that slow move was a trade off for being able to climb walls, which they can TOTALLY DO. Probably.
  • Archon Uniforms: Having their outfits allow them to avoid terrain modifiers just makes complete sense to me.
  • Lookamancy: No idea how it works. Stanley stated in canon that he used to take 3 turns to find dwagons. So I'm giving various reasons. Maybe it was because the lookmancer was a late addition. Maybe it was because she has a hard time looking for dwagons when she is already looking for potential enemy units. I don't know. I'm giving both as possible explanations.
  • Total Army: All GK units that survived the tunnels were decrypted. For the Coalition, first I substract the 2584 units lost and in the tunnels and then get 70% of all the remaining numbers.
Jetstone (1795)*.7=1256
Marbits (655)*.7=458
Unaroyal (1379)*.7=965
Elves (780- 100 cause *spoiler* the superfluous elves took off)*.7=476
Sofa King (708)*.7=495
Foxmud (208)*.7=145
Hobbittm (116)*.7=81
TOTAL= 2942 decrypted + 934 uncroaked
Barbarian (11)*NA=11
Charlescomm (42)*NA=42
156 Gobwin fighters
67 Piker-class infantry, mostly mid/high level
22 Stabber-class infantry, mostly mid/high level
36 Spidew cavalry, mostly low levels
27 Twoll heavies, various levels
23 Archer-class infantry, all mid/high levels
9 Knight-class infantry, various levels
8 Keshiks, high level
2 Hard Rock golems
=356 units
Then there are the dwagons
54-15-2-3=34 dwagons +3?
3 living knights and 3 gobwins to carry on their respective tribes
5 Casters
10 Warlords (9 decrypted)
1 Chief Warlord, Level 4, Special
Author's notes: And that's a wrap. Thanks everyone for reading this story of mine. Maybe I'll do a fanfic on book two some day but that would deviate from canon a fair bit and be more difficult to write. 
BONUS: Someone drew a fanart of the story. Not anyone with an account here so Rob can't award the artist any smuckers though. 
I guess they were happy that all three of Charlie's Angels survived this time. 
word count: 7.2k
(NOTE: User was awarded 450 Shmuckers for this impressive story. -Rob)
Part 11 of 11 in The Imperfect Warlord


  • thatonesungod

    Great story, very much enjoyed, i hope you continue it someday

  • Dark Shadow

    I'm possibly being a tad pedantic, but doesn't Sizemore Rockwell have a last name? :D

    Other than that, excellent show, dwagon well deserved.

  • tomaO2

    Everyone has a last name. But none are important except for Ansom because his last name is directly inherited from one of the first 99 royals of erfworld. 

  • BakaGrappler

    Sizemore Rockwell. Wanda Firebaugh.  Isaac Cipher.


    Last names are by no means rare in the world of Erfworld.  And I'm fairly certain I saw a Decrypted Marbit standing as a guard at some point, but your system seems sound enough to explain why there are no elves in the army aside from saying "Their bodies all burned up."  Like you said before, you're working the Systems angle.


    I have to say, this is an excellent piece of work.  With a mind that dove so deep into the game's systems to find optimizations, you did a fine job with the "pre-knowledge" cheat.  It was a story that appeals to all gamers who enjoy doing a second runthrough of a game after getting all the surprises out of the way in order to fully maximize returns.  It is by no means a replacement for the Parson Gotti Book 1, but it is an excellent companion to it.  I've greatly enjoyed reading the series to the point that I've sent you a message with a pitch for a co-operative writing experiment for a "Season 2" of the story.


    Erfworld is so vast.  It would be a shame to not explore it.

  • KoolKoal

    Thanks for writing this. It was a ton of fun to read.

  • tomaO2

    Thanks for the comments and the tips everyone. Especially Bakagrappler who gave 100 smuckers. Just a note. If you only give one tip. Give it to the first post. The amount doesn't matter, but tipping puts your entry in a more prominent position on the "all times favorites" list.

    On the subject of names, I see that I haven't been as clear as I could be. Therefore, I have edited mechanics post on names. Hopefully, this clarifies my position.  

    • Ansom Lunesta: I'm going to say it right out, the reason I can only read first names for the stat board is because making up last names becomes far too varied, since I have to make up a new one for every character I see, and will likely end up being proven incorrect later on. Ansom is the exception, however because he's  the direct descend of Lunesta, one of the original 99 royals. It makes sense that he would carry her name. I figured being a direct descendant would be important enough for the glasses to pick it up.
    • Last Names: All Erfworld units have them, even infantry has them. However, only the ruler can pass their name down to their descendants. This is because it is the only unit that can have children.
  • WurmD

    Fantastic story/writting! Please do explore more your artistic vein ^_^

    I've just tipped the first chapter, and here are the last typos found:

    “Wanda and I join up with you on the fliers in time for the attack,”
    Wanda and I will join up ?
    “I agree. I'm really excited about how the decrypted will let is get even MORE dwagons then otherwise possible.”
    will let it get?
    I think that the lave
    lava :D
  • Nightseraph

    Excellent story, just read the whole thing in one sitting, and I'm bookmarking and anxious for part 2.

    Couple of minor mechanics complaints though, changing commoner into noble seems like more of a weirdomancy thing, then a changemancy thing, in my mind. Specials feel like more of a numbers then erf axis thing to me.  (Though the canon has this problem too. The name of some of the specialties seem to matter more then the numbers behind them. Eg Dollamancy, the magic of making stuff move, makes inanimate rainment; only because dolls have clothes

    Also it seems a little to easy to level, all things considered. I think there's canon evidence to support higher level units take a long time to level, and it slows down dramatically at some point. Also high level units give more experience on kill.


    I love some of the fanon clarification of the numbers behind combat. I do feel like things are going to diverge at some point soon.

    Probably due to some carny wombo combo.

  • tomaO2

    Spelling corrected.


    Fair comments Nightseraph.

    Now, keeping in mind that canon doesn't say one way or the other and that my decision is final (don't keep arguing the same point over and over again), here is my thinking.

    The way I separate Weirdomancy from changemancy is that weird does temporary changes that doesn't alter the physical body, while change alters the body to permanently ingrain a change.

    So, while weird can grant a unit the flying special, change would alter the body, giving the unit wings so that it could fly.

    This refers to living targets only, of course. Change seems able to grant enchantments to objects without needing to alter the item, the magic still is permanent though, whereas weird could do the same thing, probably better, but it would have a time limit on it.

    Leveling is as accurate as I can make it. Is it too easy? Infantry can be listed as high level. In this story that means level 5+. For an infantry to get to that level they have to kill 8+ 16+ 32+ 64= 120 level one pikers/archers, or 15 level one twolls/knights, or 8 warlords/sourmanders.

    If one unit needs to kill that much to get to level 5. That's hardly easy. It can be easy though, if you are a vastly superior force and can just capture a lot of units and then execute them, but not a lot of sides have that luxury, and peaceful sides can take FOREVER to level up. Combat speeds things up a lot. Ansom was only level 2 five hundred turns ago but he got to level 10 while Artemis was still training for level 8, which she then reached during one combat action against Haggar.

  • Nightseraph

    I very much see your view and Changemancy, and in the end Canon will probably support you. There is some serious problems

    with the magic system as it was layed out in book one, and I'd be will to bet on some retconjuration at some point. (Seriously, Healomancy doesn't relate to life?)


    The thing about the level is it kinda misses the impact taking out similar level units has. Bogroll levelled multiple times off a unit higher level then him, and I'd probably think that experience drops off in a more abitrary way. Like croak 1 level 1 to get to level two, but a level 10 gets zero experience off level 3s. It would also  explain why there seems to be a soft level cap around 12.


    That being said your model seems to be really good for low- mid levels, just wondering about it later. Really looking forward to reading more.

  • tomaO2

    I certainly looked at Bogroll killing Ansom when I was considering how leveling would impact on a unit's worth when killed for exp.

    Bogroll leveled twice from killing Ansom. That was specifically stated. 

    Bogroll is likely level 1. He's a garrison unit that doesn't seem like he's ever left the capital. Not a person given much importance too.

    To get from level 1 to 3 he needs 24 points.

    To get from level 3 to 4 he needs 32 points.

    This means that killing Ansom has to be worth a value of under 56 points, but more than 24. 

    I've already stated that a level 1 warlord is worth a base of 16 points. Assuming Bogroll at level 1, which seems reasonable, the most Ansom can be worth is  56 points, and the least is 24.

    Looking at it in this way, I rule that there is a set % increase for each level gains. If Ansom is worth 20% more each time he leveled, for instance, he'd be worth 44.8 points, which fits within this range. If the gain was only 10%, it would mean Ansom was worth 32 points, which also fits.

    I don't see a need to make things complicated for myself, which is why I'm going to be ignoring that whole 'connections improve exp gain' thing as much as possible, until forced into it. I'll stick with a set increase of 10-20% unless something comes up.

    As for the reason it takes a long time to level up the higher levels, it's because the requirement doubles every time you level. I don't need anything more complicated than that. Level 11 takes 4096 points. Which is about as much as it took to get from level 1 to 10 COMBINED (which took Ansom 500 turns to manage). Double that again and you need over 8000 to get to level 12, and then over 1,600 to get to level 13 and you don't need to wonder why you don't see level 15 units around.

    I think the system I currently in place offers a plausible explanation for level gains. There is no need to over-complicate things when you don't have enough information to go by. Especially when canon can pop up and dismantle my theories in a single post. I try to cleave to canon, as much as possible for this story. I wouldn't have made up the archer knights, for instance, if I hadn't had to figure out what lancers are (piker class knights, I decided, which meant that archers would also need a knight class unit).

  • GrayMatter

    Great story. The mechanics have been fun. Looking forward to/hope to see a Part 2.

  • TitanInTraining

    I was fully expecting The ROB to have Plotted your self inswert, as some sort of arc where you learned the error of your initial comment

    The next arc should be how your inswert copes when his erfworld story knowledge REALLY starts failing as he gets far off the tracks, but how fate still keeps the train moving forward, maybe in the interim period between books 1 and 2

  • Squall83

    That story was really nice! I never got around to reading it in the past few months, but I always kept it in the back of my head, so I binged it in the last few days. Judging from the intro I expected more stuff to go more wrong, leading to more tension and/or drama, but in hindsight it didn't have to be for the story to be fun. For a few minutes near the end I expected you to do a self-sacrifice because you told the tri-link to uncroak the volcano while still negotiating with Ansom, resulting in you waking up in your own world and having some dialog with ROB.


    But would GK really lose the war by winning the hit-and-run siege? If the dwagons are in a different hex, next turn they'd kill Ansom and Jillian and take down the rest of the siege, possibly along with any unit that could make it to the lake. Or the dwagons could be in the same hex, but at least one stack would be completely fresh, and they could engage immediately (or at least after the spell is broken).

  • Squall83

    Damn, maybe I shold've read the comments first, because then I would've tipped part 1.

    Also regarding spelling: There are a LOT of places all over the story where you write "then" instead of "than". Sometimes I found repeated words like "to to" and there are a bunch of sentences that have the same word in two different places, as if you rephrased it moving a word to a different place but didn't delete it in the old position. I can't get myself to reread everything just to find those spots, though, since I binged so many chapters last night that I need to do something else now.

  • tomaO2

    Hello Squall. Thanks for the comments.

     I stuck close to canon because it was easier and the main purpose was trying to retell the original story in a way that also got into the mechanics of the story.

     A good intro is always important. I came up with the count down idea awhile ago but thought of that whole flash forward crisis much later on. It was an artificial crisis, I'll admit. 

     While I followed canon because it was easier. I do think that winning that dwagon trap would have lost. I explained my reasoning in the story bit it's basically. They outnumbered GK by an absurd amount. Winning was impossible. Therefore the only solution was the volcano eruption. To do that Stanley needed to be gone. I suppose I could have convinced him to leave without losing the battle though...

     If I recreated book 2, it would also follow the story lines, probably end with capturing Jetstone as well, but I would focus more on the campaign that happened before we got there, since there is no way I would deliberately let myself fall for Charlie's trap, and if you avoid that, winning that battle is easy. Conquering Unaroyal would get more ink. The point of the story was just to create a forum to give my theories on how Erf mechanics work though. I have no need or desire to go beyond that. I wouldn't even think about doing a book 3 until it was done and it would have to be extremely divergent from canon. Which I'm not terribly interested in doing, since that would involve making things up, and what *I* want to do is try to quantify what's already known. 

     Ansom and Jillian wouldn't have been killed. I think Jillian is fated to be killed by Wanda, actually, and Fate will keep her alive from anything else. Ansom and Jillian still had enough move to punch through formation and get back to the main army, which would have been enough to hold off the dwagons.  

     I appreciate the second tipping to the first post. One smucker on the first post is of more value to me then twenty smuckers somewhere else. If someone is looking at the top submissions list, it's only natural to have the first chapter being what they spot. For spelling corrections, I actually edit my posts a lot so finding something that seems like I rephrased it but missed making other corrections is entirely possible. No, I don't need you to send me a massive list on all my mistakes though. I did my best with it.

  • thatonesungod

    I know its been  while, but i would totally love to see a book two from you and i love jade (arrow??) as a character and i would like to see more of her

  • Keybounce


    “I agree. I'm really excited about how the decrypted will let is get even MORE dwagons then otherwise possible.”
    Let _us_ get
    I enjoyed this; looking forward to seeing what you do with book 2.
    And yes, your "Parson" won't fall for the obvious trap. Hey, maybe this is the point where Charlie decides to do something different, and lays a different trap...