Money Makes the World Go Round - Part 7
By Star_Sage (Tipped by 2 people!)
(Previous Chapter: http://www.erfworld.com/blog/view/50443/money-makes-the-world-go-round-part-6)
The start of turn the next day found all the Warlords, Casters, and Stanley himself assembled in the room atop the tower, with Parson having brought in blackboards that seemed to ring the room. Each had the name of a nearby Side on it, with various facts and information on each, telling you at a glance which was the most powerful in general, but also which had access to more current units, Casters, or the like. In addition, each had a number at the bottom, the amount of shmuckers it would take to crush the side, according to Drachma. When everyone was in the room, Parson stood up, and began to walk around, naming each side as he did so.
“And finally, Jetstone. Each of these Sides has been our enemy lately. Individually, they’re nothing compared to Gobwin Knob, as we just showed. Our forces have grown at an almost exponential rate, and with Decryption, the drawbacks of larger forces, namely Upkeep, are mitigated. In this, we have proven, we’re better than anyone else out there,” he said at last, and that drew a nod of approval from Stanley, and various other reactions from everyone else, including Sizemore, who’s face grew very, very dark for a moment.
“And yet, all of them together, every single one working in concert could crush us like a bug. We proved that recently too. At Spacerock we had all the advantages, a larger force, better leadership, and the skills to bring those to bare in such a way that no one could have stopped us. For all that, without Mr. Drachma’s gem, we would have lost,” he held out a hand towards the white haired Moneymancer, who nodded at the assessment, while others held their tongues.
“I think it’s time we admit, we’re powerful, but not invincible. Fate, according to our Overlord, and more than one Predictamancer, has declared we will bring the Arkentools together, and do something amazing,” as he spoke, he flipped one of the boards over, Jitterati, revealing a picture drawn with the four known Tools. The Shoes, the Pliers, the Hammer, and the Dish.
“But we also know from experience that Fate’s path isn’t always easy to walk. This whole Side was nearly wiped out less than a hundred turns ago because we decided to go it alone, and even as we recover, we’re very changed from what we were,” he said, waving a hand towards where the Decrypted sat around Wanda, who barely seemed to be listening, her gaze always out the window towards the open sky beyond.
“This better not be another call for me to make an Heir. That’s not going to happen,” said Stanley in a very calm, level voice, that dripped with annoyance at arguments had over several Turns. Parson looked almost ready to go again at that point, but then shook his head.
“No, Tool. No, you’ve made that point very clear. Besides, you Croaking isn’t even the point anymore. You weren’t in danger during this last operation, in the slightest. No, they were trying to grind us down, not decapitate us. That means that our enemies think you’re too well protected to go after,” as he spoke, as if on cue, several dwagons flew by the window, more than a dozen, all with Hobgobwin riders that whooped and hollered as they led their mounts on training maneuvers. Each was high level, and in Gobwin Knob, they enjoyed a bonus high enough to make them threats to just about anything.
“No, what I’m talking about is that an alliance of all these sides could crush us, despite our recent victory. Worse, we’ve given them every reason to align against us, every reason to want us gone, by showing we can take it, while at the same time, our real enemy is waiting in the wings,” as he spoke, he spun the Jetstone board around, revealing Charlsecomm’s info. It seemed so weak compared to the others, but the amount listed was more than all the others combined by at least two orders of magnitude, and far, far greater than Gobwin Knob’s treasury.
“Even if we could take them all out, it would cost us, and when it came time to take Charlie on, and don’t doubt that time is coming, we’d be unable to afford it,” as he spoke, he walked back over to the desk of the Tool, and slapped a load of papers down on it with various numbers written on them. Stanley looked at the stack like a man staring down his own croaking, before turning to face Parson.
“So, what is the plan, Hamster? You’re the Perfect Warlord, that means you should have the perfect plan,” he said, and Parson, for all his boss could frustrate him, smiled warmly.
“We make alliances. We’ve shown we’re the biggest, we’re the baddest. Now we show we can play nice with others, so long as they’re willing to play by our rules,” he said, and Stanley actually got a contemplative look on his face, holding his hands in front of him and breathing into the space between them for a moment, before shaking his head.
“Allies aren’t really my thing, Parson. I conquer. I’m gonna rule the world,” he said, holding up the Hammer as if to prove that. Parson smiled even more broadly though.
“But what does it mean to rule the world, Tool? Does that mean you level every city that’s not your’s? Do you croak and decrypt all the Rulers? Do you smash even the Magic Kingdom?” he asked, and at each statement, the Tool’s face shown a little brighter, as he obviously imagined each of those.
“Of course, then you’d have to manage all those cities when you rebuilt them. You’d have to run every aspect of every kingdom you took. Heck, you’d probably lose a lot of Casters in the conquest, and never be able to use their skills again,” he added each one, and it had the desired effect, as each new piece was laid on the scale, and Stanley seemed to see each as a much heavier burden than he’d expected.
“How’s about this instead? Alliances can be made pretty easily, with a lot of stipulations on how breaking them affects everything. What if, you, the Ruler of Gobwin Knob, had every side in the world allied with you, each with horrible terms for breaking their contracts? Each independent, but bound to follow in the footsteps of Overlord Stanley, the Tool of the Titans,” he built up the last, and pointed towards the Hammer, which actually glowed a little, as Stanley’s imagination ran a bit at the image of Kings and Queens, not croaked or fawning over Wanda, but instead sitting on their thrones, knowing that Stanley himself held their leashes. The thought was almost enough to make him squeal like a Level 1 stabber stabbing his first enemy.
“Alright, Hamster. You’ve got a chance at making your case. How do you want to bring them to heel?” asked the Overlord.
“Well, I say we start with the two sides we have the most bargaining power with. FAQ and Jetstone,” as he spoke, he flipped the Jetstone board back around, and pulled the FAQ one closer to it. Together, they represented almost a third of the forces around Gobwin Knob.
“With FAQ, we send every Warlord we can to their capital. Duncan says they have an heir due to pop, and we’re almost certain Jillian went home after what we did to her in the field. We send enough forces that, if necessary, we can take her city, but we offer terms instead. She knows we’re bigger than her, an alliance would be in her best interests no matter what she thinks,” as he spoke, he motioned for Duncan to come up beside him.
“Duncan also tells us Charlie is behind a lot of FAQ’s decisions lately. Jillian knows she might be being used, and my bracer confirms that at a one hundred percent probability. If we can make her realize that, she’ll hopefully be willing to turn against him,” Duncan walked back to his seat after fielding a few questions from Ansom on the nature of FAQ’s arrangements with Charlsecomm,
“And afterward do we approach Jetstone?” asked the Chief Warlord, and Parson shook his head, much to the surprise of the blond haired man.
“No, we need to strike this while the iron is still hot. Your brother is in his capital too. We can get there through his portal. All our Casters, and myself, will go, along with our two prisoners. We’ll offer them back, along with some contract terms giving us use of the abilities of all of Jetstone’s Casters. FAQ will need to be convinced to help us, since Charlie’s been giving them stuff to work for him. Jetstone, meanwhile, has only had costs thanks to Charlie’s machinations, which should hopefully make him easier to talk to,” as he spoke, Ansom began to shake his head slight.
“My brother believes us to be dishonorable. We fight during Parley, we break our word. I know these are you doing what you do, Lord Hamster, but Tramennis is a diplomat, he’ll use such tactics against you,” said Ansom, who seemed about to offer his own plan, but Parson held up his hand to silence him.
“I know that, but I think I know a way to make him see things my way. Besides, we need this. If we can get the two sides who were just fighting us as hard as they could to align with us, what kind of message does that send to everyone else? If you fight us, we’ll beat you down, then force you to accept our terms. If you make friends with us first, you might find yourself in a more favorable position,” he said, and that seemed to get some of them to thinking, before Sizemore raised his hand, asking to speak.
“But what of your exile, Lord? You have been banned from the Magic Kingdom. I do not believe another tunnel like before will be allowed to succeed,” he did not add that the first one hadn’t really succeeded at all, and Fate had merely made allowances for his passage.
“I’ve got that covered too. Maggie thinks, if I’ve been invited to Jetstone, I can make my way to their portal. Not to attack, but for Parley. If I simply passthru theirs, not with a military force, but just Casters, it should be allowed. Especially if we offer them their prisoners back,” this seemed to silence the objection, and soon everyone was going over what they would need to do to prepare for the coming diplomacy.