Money Makes the World Go Round - Part 4
By Star_Sage (Tipped by 4 people!)
(Previous Chapter: http://www.erfworld.com/blog/view/50336/money-makes-the-world-go-round-part-3)
Gobwin Knob, despite the name, proved to be a lovely city, in many respects. The design was very swirled, with lines that always seemed to meet. Even the Portal Room itself was very elegant, though the addition of some interesting looking guards made it even more so. Marie walked past them with barely a glance, and following behind, Drachma did much the same, only eyeing their gear a little as he walked by. Real Dollamancy stuff in their hands, and the good, expensive kind too.
“So, you’re the one who provided the gem that saved my butt?” asked the giant of a man as Drachma entered the room. The Caster had been momentarily taken aback by the sheer scale of this Parson person up close, looking at him. In the tunnel, with its darkness, he had considered the Warlord’s size to be a trick of the shadows, but now he could see it was no trick. Drachma was one of the tallest, widest units he knew, and Parson was at least a head taller, and two hand lengths wider.
“I did. I assume it was useful?” he asked, and Parson nodded.
“Very. Without that, I would have croaked, we would have lost Wanda, Jack, the ‘pliers, and every unit in Spacerock. Still, I ran a few calculations. That rock was the most expensive thing I’ve seen since coming here. So I have to ask, why?” his tone implied the rest of the question without it needing to be stated, and Drachma, in his golden colored robes, gestured with his good hand towards Marie.
“Profit motive, more than anything. As a Moneymancer, my power comes from, and ends at, how many shmuckers I have. Marie here, despite rumors, is a Predictamancer in the top percentile of such. With her aid, I could very well become the richest unit in Erfworld,” explained the Caster, and Parson seemed to consider this for a moment, before placing his hands on his bracer, and then whispering something to it. Watching with interest, Drachma had a startling revelation.
The bracer had no cost. His sense of things told him the bracer itself, the part that went on the arm, was worth only around ten shmuckers, a high price for a dud, but nothing too outlandish. The item snapped into the bracer though? Like Parson himself it seemed ‘twisted’ to his senses, it's worth hidden behind a fog. The item seemed to give Parson a Mathamancy Special, as he quickly subvocalized a few questions for it, his words obscured enough the Drachma couldn’t understand them, at least until he yelped a little in surprise.
“Your net worth is at least twice my entire side’s,” he said in hushed tones, and Drachma smirked in that knowing way.
“Actually, almost four times in total. Along with the debts owed to me by the other Bank Heads and various units in the Magic Kingdom, I would say my worth is nearly five,” he told him simply, and Parson whistled in shock, before getting down to business again.
“Alright, so, you’re rich, and want to get richer. Since you’re meeting with us, I’m going to assume you think we’re a money making opportunity,” said the Warlord simply, and Drachma nodded.
“Indeed. After that little incident, I’m having trouble doing business in the Kingdom for the moment. Jojo got the other Carnys riled up against me. So hiring myself out to a side seems the best way to deal with it. Out of sight, out of mind, as it were,” answered the Caster, and it was the Warlord’s turn to nod.
“Okay, sounds interesting. So this is sort of a job interview for you then? You tell us what you can do for us, while we do the same?” he asked, and Drachma smiled, one that actually made his eyes sparkle a little. It was so nice to have a Warlord this quick on the uptake.
“I think that works. Why don’t we lay our assets out, and compare some notes?” he asked, and Parson soon summoned their Foolamancer, one Jack Snipe, to the room. What followed was a simple laying out of facts and figures of the side. Drachma, for all his disinterest, had had little to do the past ten turns than ask questions around the Kingdom, and garner information regarding Gobwin Knob. But given the battle, most of that info had been out of date.
With some gaps filled it quickly in regards to unit distribution, and some outlying city production, they got into the details of the Battle of Spacerock. As it turned out, the gem had helped a lot. The thing not only put out the fire, but healed the units it had croaked. Even the Decrypted had apparently been brought back, a feat Wanda still wanted an explanation for, though Parson, not having known much himself, had mostly been brushing her off.
“So, where did that gem come from? I know you magicked it up, but that seems really out there for any sort of spell I know,” asked Parson after a few moments, and Drachma seemed to consider his response carefully, before finally pulling aside his robe, so Parson could see his missing arm, in all its golden glory.
“There are actions in this world that can leave a unit damaged in ways that do not heal at the start of their turn. They’re rare, and hard to cause, but they do happen. Charlie, in his infinite wisdom, set a trap for a side I was allied with in my youth. That trap involved an action similar to the inferno you experienced. I had rushed into the Kingdom to procure the gem, the original version I showed you, at great personal cost. My arm was through the Portal when the Tower of the city fell,” he said the last while fingering the shoulder, tapping out a tune on the metal for a moment, before sighing and laying back.
“I see. Charlie’s the real reason you want to join with us, isn’t it?” said Parson, and Drachma nodded at that.
“He hurt me. He cost me. And I will take recompense for it. To date, he’s had an agreement with the Moneymancers of the Magic Kingdom. We stay out of his way, and he doesn’t touch us. We think it’s because we can tell how large his treasury is, he doesn’t want anyone to know. As wealthy as Gobwin Knob is, he’s by far your superior in terms of worth,” explained Drachma.
“Wow. Are you sure he’s not using Carnymancy or something to make his worth bigger?” asked Parson, and Drachma had to consider the question for a moment, before shaking his head.
“While the Carnys have ways of ‘cooking’ the books, to fool even our senses, it would take more juice than even a Master could have to keep it up. Besides, Charlie doesn’t have any Carnys in his city most of the time,” answered Drachma, and then stared as both Warlord and Foolamancer turned to each other, before saying they had a story to tell him before they got on with the job interview.
It wasn’t a simple tell, least of all in how it was told. Apparently, the Foolamancer and Croakamancer were under NDA’s with Charlie that ended only at Croak. Luckily, the Foolamancers temporary Croak from the inferno, and subsequent resurrection by his gem had counted under terms of the contract, allowing Jack Snipe to tell everyone quite the tale. Involving FAQ, Haffaton, and a dozen other things besides.
The biggest upshot of it all was that Charlie, pain in the posterior Charlie who was always finding wiggle room in contracts that seemed impossible, was a Carny. That information alone made Drachma’s investment worth it, as it explained a lot of the Overlord’s success. Contracts, between sides or between units like Rulers and Casters, were natural Thinkamancy. You couldn’t lie in them, most of the time, unless you yourself were very strong of will. The Letter and Spirit of most contracts were the same thing.
Charlie though? He’d been lying on his contracts for a long time. Always putting in loopholes, or escape clauses that allowed him to make a profit no matter what happened. Most assumed it was a result of the Arkendish he was attuned to, and just let it lay at that. But if he was a Carny? That little nugget of data could destroy him. Everyone knew a contract with a Carny was no good. They could indeed lie, cheat, and scam. If this got around to many sides, well, Charlie’s whole operation would be over.
“Hmm, let us resume the story of current events for now. The future’s market can wait a moment,” said Drachma, after taking some time to digest the information he’d been given. Parson agreed, and began to go over some details that hadn’t yet made it to the Magic Kingdom. Apparently, for instance, the reason for the closing of Spacerock’s Portal was not the fall of the tower in the city, but instead a plan to trap Parson(Likely Charlie’s, though that went unsaid), with a ditto of King Slately switching Jetstone’s Capital to the City of Jetstone itself.
Luckily for Gobwin Knob, Wanda and Jack had stayed in the city, and with two Casters and a Chief Warlord leading stacks against the ragged, desperate Jetstone troops, it hadn’t even been a real battle. They’d lost four stabbers all together, and otherwise gained warlords, and even a Caster, who Parson said was chilling out in their dungeons, awaiting their attempts to turn him, along with two others they’d caught in the meantime.
After the turn had ended, they’d taken stock, and found they actually had almost as much power now as they’d had before. With Sylvia and Artemis amongst their ranks, they were actually slightly stronger, as the archery Warlady had quite the bonus. They’d spent the night in Spacerock, but in the morning, during their turn, they’d flown off on the dwagons and gone on a wrecking spree.
First they’d smashed the mostly leaderless remnants of Prince Sammy’s forces from Haggar, and captured their second Caster, a Hat Magician from Jetstone, along with an odd magic item that gave units a flight special(Drachma asked to see that later). From there, they’d then hit a few more forces, before closing ranks and descending on Brookstone with a force of dwagons that the city had not been prepared for, catching FAQ’s expeditionary force completely by surprise.
As FAQ had been capturing living units of Gobwin Knob, and with the Chief Warlord in the Hex with them, they’d been able to repatriate them, causing the megalogwiff’s to be a liability, rather than an asset. FAQ’s Chief Warlord, a Turnamancer, and most of the heavy units had all been croaked(Or captured in the case of the Caster), in minutes, and Jillian, FAQs ruler had only escaped thanks to a gwiffon grabbing her, and hitting the deck, hiding somehow till Gobwin Knob had been forced to end turn, and then bolting as fast as it could for FAQ.
“Normally, I would have tried to capture her next turn, but Wanda said not to, said Fate wanted her to be free. I would have argued, but according to my bracer, the odds of her hiding from us were so low they’re barely visible. I know an NPC with plot armor when I see one,” commented Parson, and this led to an interesting diversion into what he meant, including discussions of ‘Earth/Stupidworld’, and Parson’s life before being a Warlord. Fascinating stuff, but soon they came back to the matter at hand.
“After that, we high tailed it home as fast as our Dwagons could take us, leaving small forces in all the cities we reclaimed on the way. Our three captive Casters are in the dungeon. Wanda wanted to discuss what to do with them, but I wanted to talk to you first. That gem, like I said, was worth a lot, and I figured the guy who spent that much to save people they didn’t know was worth a chat,” finished Parson.
“I see,” was all Drachma said in response, as he considered all that he had heard. Parson let him, ordering a twoll to bring them something to drink, before turning back to him.
“Alright, you know our position now, so how’s about you start telling us what a Moneymancer can do for Gobwin Knob?” he asked, and Drachma, after a moment, smiled at him. It wasn’t often he got to explain his craft to someone who cared, and Parson seemed to care a great deal.