Yet Another Self Insert Fanfiction, Part 6
We had almost reached our goal, the deepest point in Gobwin Knob’s tunnel system were mining had been attempted before. I had spent the time we walked explaining to Isaac, Tisha and A.V. Club what I was planning to use their and the other Thinkamancers juice for. Sizemore was listening intently as he was to be the foundation of my plan. My plans had started from a basic but severe problem: The tunnel zone was riddled with little passages which were dug for mining. Those passages would be a major problem when the enemy marbits would attack the tunnel zone in three turns, so those passages would have to vanish, not into thin air but solid rock in this instance. Unfortunately, they had been created over a huge amount of time, with Sizemore spending turn after turn using juice and digging, while the tunnel capable gobwins had helped with the mining. If measured in Sizemore’s juice capacity, it would take hundreds of turns to fill up all the unwanted sections. I had not even Sizemore’s full juice for three turns, because he had already spent some of it this turn on a crap golem. What were needed here were juice multipliers. Sizemore confirmed that it cost a lot less juice to turn earth into solid rock then conjuring earth from nowhere. So as a first measure, I had all the gobwins and twolls dig tunnels where I wanted them. The material they dug out would be used to fill the unwanted sections, while Dirtamancy would be used to solidify the loose earth. That alone would be nowhere near enough of course. I was planning to hire as many Dirtamancers as possible to help out down here. While Dirtamancers were usually unwilling to join a side and generally well off, I was sure they would not object to being hired to simply fill some tunnels, especially if they were paid premium rates and had a no battle guarantee. But even if I got all the Dirtamancers in the Magic Kingdom to participate, and of course I knew I would not get them all, it would still not be enough. That was the point where the Thinkamancers came in. I would not only hire Dirtamancers but every caster I could get my hands on, not for their disciplines but simply for their juice. The Thinkamancers would then link up with a Dirtamancer and a juice provider. The juice of the third caster in the link would be used, then the link would be dissolved and the next link formed. Any juice the Thinkamancers would not need for linking or dissolving links could also be used for the restructuring project, as well as the Dirtamancers original juice of course. With all that it should be possible to implement my vision of Gobwin Knob’s tunnel section. It would all depend on how many casters I could hire of course, but given the almost no risk, lots of pay jobs I was going to offer I foresaw not that many problems. Especially the poor casters like Carnymancers, Croakamancers, Mathamancers, Findamancers, Predictamancers and Luckamancers should be literally running in Gobwins Knob’s door, or rather portal.
However money was not the only concern for casters. Isaac objected that while he found it reasonable that some casters would respond to the money offered, it would however be difficult in his opinion to get things done this quickly. Trust would be a major issue for many of the casters of the magic kingdom. A lot would adopt a ‘wait, see and send someone else in first’ approach and wait for the first batch of casters to confirm that the deals offered were not rigged somehow. Gobwin Knob was not known as great employer in the Magic Kingdom, actually the only reason it was known more than the average side was because of Stanley’s Arkenhammer. Some casters were interested in the Arkentools and the topic came up in the general debates. Nonetheless, Gobwin Knob’s name would not attract many casters to its cause. Luckily I had someone else’s good name and even more important, clout, in mind. The Hippiemancers had strong ties to the poorer casters and could convince them that the deals would be legit. The Signamancers would be busy writing up non-disclosure contracts if things went the way I wanted them too.
I got a second bodily reaction out of Isaac and company when I told them that I was planning to get the whole of the Hippiemancers involved. When Isaac pressed me for details, I told him to simply assume that the Hippiemancers would play along and leave the details to me. He seemed skeptical, but was willing to go along with the flow for now.
After we reached the spot I had in mind in the tunnel system, Isaac, A.V Club and Sizemore linked up. It took only five minutes for them to dig up the first gem. It ordered them to dig up some more but to concentrate on my restructuring plan. Bogroll, who had followed us with a wheelbarrow, was ordered to wait until the wheel barrow was full of gems and then join me in the portal room with it. Tisha would replace A.V. Club in the link as soon as A.V. Club’s juice would run out. After the linked casters had used up their juice Sizemore would escort our guests back to the magic kingdom.
I went up to go and greet Janis, the Grand Abbie and most influential member of the Hippiemancers, who had arrived in the meantime. We chitchatted a bit at first. Apparently she found me as fascinating as she had found Parson in canon. I asked her questions whose answers I already knew, about Hippiemancy and its role in the magic kingdom. After a while I brought the focus on what I wanted from her. She seemed perplexed at the amount of Shmuckers I was willing to spend and the number of casters I wanted to hire, but she promised me to try to get as many casters as possible. She was especially happy when I told her I would pay for casters waiting at the short pier from now on. It was not charity; I would simply buy their services. I was confident I would find a use for any sort of caster, not matter the discipline. Maybe I could get some of them to join the side?
It took two hours to work out the general plan. Janis would convince as many of her fellow Hippiemancers to go along with linking processes, while some of the Signamancers including herself would offer some deals to the poor casters. That should come relatively cheap, I intended to offer to pay their upkeep and throw in a good sized meal per turn from the larder on top. That meant that if they would give me their juice for two turns they would have their upkeep paid for another one where they could do what they want. Not exactly premium pay, but luckily for me, they were lots of poor casters in the magic kingdom. Deducting from DigDougs and Dove Barstools stated upkeep of 160 and 150 Shmuckers, I guessed it would come to 200 Shmuckers per caster per turn on average. The Hippiemancers would be satisfied with those terms; Janis said she did not need to be paid by me. Actually, I asked her to loan me as many Rands as possible, so that I could pay the casters either in Shmuckers or in Rands, whichever was cheaper for me. The Dirtamancers were another matter entirely. I knew that the Hippiemancers valued Sizemore’s work in their garden at roughly 5 Rands (In the update, it had been 6 Rands but Ace had put in some work too). That meant if I wanted some Dirtamancers, five times their upkeep would be the minimum payment. If I wanted them to agree to be linked it would become more. If they found out how much I needed them, the prices would go up sky-high.
Taking all that into account, the initial offer would be simple tunneling and filling up tunnels for 5 Rands a turn over two turns. The Thinkamancers would handle the negotiations. After they agreed to that, I would offer the Dirtamancers additional money if they agreed to be linked with other casters. All in all, I figured my plans would cost Gobwin Knob 80.000 Shmuckers, 40.000 Shmuckers for 100 cheap casters which would include the Hippiemancers and Thinkamancers working at reduced wages because they both wanted something from me, as well as many casters as possible from a mix of Carnymancers, Croakamancers, Mathamancers, Findamancers, Predictamancers and Luckamancers. The other 40.000 were calculated for 10 Dirtamancers at 2000 Shmuckers per turn for two turns. However if need be, I was willing to use up most of Gobwin Knob’s treasury, up to 140.000 Shmuckers if absolutely necessary. There was simply no way that Stanley would give me permission to spend that many Shmuckers on casters. So the whole thing would need to be handled carefully. Luckily I could understate the number of gems brought up today and make a down payment to Janis while leaving the treasury untouched for a while. Some expenses where authorized earlier by him, but I predicted that once the treasury would fall under 100.000 Shmuckers Stanley would get cranky. Another problem to keep in mind, sigh, but I needed to focus on the now.
Additionally to Janis negotiation skills, there was something else I needed from her. Wanda’s head had been messed with by Charlie (not that she was not messed up enough to begin with) and I needed all the information I could get about Charlie and his methods. That meant she would have to be examined by the Thinkamancers at some point. However it would probably a good idea if she was unconscious at the time because I would not put it above Charlie to put in some nasty effects if the person the Deal of A Lifetime spell affected knew that someone was trying to dispel it. Janis told me, quite unhappily at that, that Flower Power had a whole lot of nasty poisons. Poisons which would leave a unit unconscious also existed, but finding one who did so without damaging the unit in question at all would be difficult. The threat of overdosing was always present. To make sure that no lasting damage was done, I suggested combining Flower Power with Healomancy, even if the poison caused HP damage to a unit, the Healomancy component would heal the unit right back. If both components where so balanced that the healomancy effect was stronger than the poisons damage potential, there was simply no way that a unit croaked accidently (In theory, I should be able to inject Wanda with the deadliest poisons of Erf, Fate would see to it that she would survive. However Fate might get pissed off at me for that. Also Wanda.). A link up between Janis and a competent Healomancer should be able to produce a contact poison of the kind I needed. Janis was happy at the idea of producing something which would render units harmless without croaking them or even without causing them pain. She warned me however that the final product would most likely be rather expensive concerning juice. Mass production was out, but I only needed enough for a few units. I told her to put a priority on it; I needed that stuff first thing next turn. Isaac, who had joined us together with Tisha, A.V. Club and Sizemore also agreed to manage that linkup. I was really glad the Thinkamancers had an agenda for me, otherwise they would never have cooperated to this extent.
After the planning session was over, I bid farewell to everyone not from Gobwin Knob. Both Isaac and Janis had their work cut out convincing their fellow casters to go along with my plans. I told Sizemore to go and rest; he would spend an awful lot of juice next turn and needed all the rest he could get. He told me that he both looked forward to and dreaded the next turn. For me the next turn could not come soon enough, my feet were killing me. Unfortunately I still could not rest, even as the sun went down. I had to show Lord Stanley the ‘solid results’. Given the wheelbarrow full of gems Bogroll had brought up earlier and the fact that the mountain still contained millions of Shmuckers in form of gems, the whole thing went rather well. Also I returned the Eyebook I confiscated earlier to Wanda. I had promised her after all. Now that preparations where underway and night had fallen, I could finally rest my body in the bed I had the Twolls fabricate for me earlier. Unfortunately I still could not rest completely. Now it was time for my first real critical battle. The battle for my own mind.