The Battle for Gloom Isle- Scene Two: Looking at all the Wrong Things
By kilantolshi (Tipped by 3 people!)
Last turn of his contract. He couldn’t put it off any longer. He had finished his mapping two turns ago… well mostly. There was still the issue of the blind spot in the center of the island. There shouldn’t BE a blind spot, not for a master class Lookamancer, but there it was. Clear as day.
9 hexes, plainly present… but no information whatsoever. The last two turns he had kept to his work, pouring all his juice into trying to look at even one of those hexes, with no luck.
Now that’s not to say he hadn’t enjoyed his visit here, and he had certainly learned a few things. These ‘Tween Angels, for instance, were a fascinating find, information on them could be worth a fair number of rands to the right findamancer. And, surprisingly, Pigeon had been completely honest with him. Turned out BooNLund was part of the result of the empire having had two heirs when the previous emperor croaked, so they had settled on dividing the side into two, half to each heir at the time.
Their northern neighbor was led by GilSoma’s brother RexSoma. RexSoma had been the elder of the two and had chosen to keep the Empire’s original name of DooMLund. To the east lay their mutual enemy of BunnyVale (apparently where Vizier Manichek had gotten his lucky rabbits feet scarf), and to the southeast was a small side known only as AbsinthTea.
No real threats to BooNLund’s inland kingdom of, he had learned recently, 8 cities. That had certainly pleased his current benefactor. But this issue with the unlookable hexes on Gloom Island had him concerned. It just shouldn’t be possible! Even if there were a master class foolamancer there, against a master lookamancer like himself one would truly be hardpressed to block even one hex of looking.
He had to report his findings. Probably be required to return some of the pay received. Carl Rapher shook his head in annoyance. NO! I can’t just give up. Maybe I can negotiate a contract extension, go over and look for myself in person. But he knew how difficult it was to get an extension, even with the good rapport he had been able to build up here.
Carl pulled his face forward. He stood before the Emperor’s personal quarters now. The knight class bodyguards standing to each side of the door watched him but said nothing as he knocked softly.
“Erf… Enter!” came a bellow from the Emperor. The door swung open allowing Carl to walk in. Before him was Emperor Gilsoma Ghyaholl, his back turned to the doorway as some squire’s assisted him in putting on his royal armor. Looking over his shoulder Gilsoma smiled, “ah! Carl! Finished the map at last have you? Gimme a minute and I’ll take a look before sending it out.”
“Uhmm… yes, your Eminence… though there may be an… issue…”
An hour later GilSoma and his two casters were back in the forum with Carl. The horseshoe shaped table was still there, with a large battlemap table now placed filling the entire inside of the ‘U’. They each looked over the map, again, for the umpteenth time. None of them could think of what could be blocking his magic. In fact if it hadn’t been for his lookamancy they wouldn’t have known anything was wrong at all. The map looked complete to them but Carl knew it wasn’t. He had had to point out the central are three times, and each time they said the map showed a large lake.
It was Visionary Angela who found the solution. She had cast upon his lookamancy-made map and changed it into a hand-scrawled battlemap. With that casting things had switched. Now, they could see the hole in the map and Carl alone could see the lake that he was certain wasn’t there.
“Is it carnymany?”
“No, that requires touch, not possible over multiple hexes.”
“They’d have to be a class above master to fool me, and I’ve never heard of such a class.”
The argument had been going on for a while. None of them knew what to make of it. A few minutes ago Manichek had brought up the possibility of having the prince send some of the prince’s ‘Tween angels to the nearest hex, maybe even an Archon. Their Chief Warlord was outside right now speaking via Archon-thinkagram to the prince.
“What about a Temple? Or a dungeon?” Angela asked suddenly.
Carl paused at this. “Possible, they do tend to make things hard for me to look inside, but I’ve never come across one that could hide the hex it’s in, let alone the hexes around them.”
Manichek raised an eyebrow. “What if it’s the artifact inside that is doing this?”
Everyone went silent a moment looking at Manichek, then turning and looking at Carl expectantly.
“That… I honestly can’t think of why that couldn’t be! It would have to be a pretty powerful artifact though… maybe even…” he gave a pause…
Everyone finished his thought at the same time… “an arkentool?”
“Your Eminence, you have read scripture thoroughly… is it possible? Could there be a fifth arkentool?”
The Emperor stood back, stroking his beard in thought. “It… could be. I don’t recall scripture specifically stating there were only four left behind.”
Carl looked around at the three commanders. “whoa, wait, wait, wait! It might not even be a new arkentool, one of them is missing last I heard. It could’ve re-popped here when it was lost! Or, worst case scenario…” They each turned their gazes to him. “It could be simply a vault for an arkentool. Where one originally rested. Titanic magic around such a vault might be causing this same effect. Whatever’s there might already be gone if that’s the case!”
Frowns and scowls filled the faces of all in the room. “That too is a possibility…”
The sounds of sudden footsteps coming closer drew their attention. Montague was returning with the Archon in tow. Carl recognized the Archon now, it was Summer… post promotion. That had been interesting to look at while it happened. The gold and white business suit she now wore suited her well, much better than the frilly skirt and halter top she had earlier.
“Your Eminence,” Montague said, “Your son has agreed to send in one of his four Archons. Visual thinkagram will come in shortly.”
Summer stood at the edge of the map table where all could see. She placed her hands wide to frame the sides of the image that was expected. A minute passed, then two, then ten. Carl waited uncomfortably, Angela visibly shifted her weight. Finally an image came up, blurry at first, then clearing to show a large… cloud? Fog bank? The visual shifted down and they could see water, slowly shifting towards the hex boundary which this ‘cloud’ seemed to fill.
Summer spoke, “report coming in. Faith reports unable to see through the cloud in front, entering hex now.”
Sure enough the image followed the motions, the cloud coming closer as ‘Faith’ moved up to the hex boundary. Carl prepared himself, there was no clue how long the connection would remain once she reached the other side, he’d need both his lookamancy and foolamancy powers to record this, just in case. Then she was in the cloud, and a moment later she was on the other side.
The image had become grainy, heavily blurred and difficult to really see. Not too far below was a dense forest, the air here was clear, except for a massive pink sphere of light the next hex over. Too large, way too bright, couldn’t even see the sun. ‘Faith’ didn’t have time to escape, she probably didn’t even notice what hit her. The image cut out.
“What was that? What happened? Get her back!” Gilsoma yelled, pounding the table with his fist.
“Your Eminence, bide if you will… just a moment” Carl let his memory of what he saw fill his mind… a still frame, something simple enough for being only an adept-class foolamancer. “Be kind, rewind” Carl intoned, spending a bit of his juice for the turn.
The image came back, with Carl framing it this time. A large claw at the bottom… that must be what got Faith. But it wasn’t what Carl was looking at. Dwagons, Gwiffons and Wyvewns oh my! The hex was full of them, a stack of each at least! And on the ground in the forest… Behemoths and Juggernauts roamed and crashed through the trees, in equal numbers. All Feral, they didn’t belong to any side… But there, far on the right and at least a hex distance, if not two, stood a statue so large that from here it looked the size of a normal man.
Montague stared at the image. “That… is a lot of Ferals for one hex. Titans, I can’t even count them all!”
“There are seven of each,” Carl said, after confirming his count. “35 total, and that’s just what can be seen from this vantage point. Your Eminence, I think it can be safe to assume the other entry hexes would be similarly populated.”
Manichek looked carefully at the frozen image, he pointed to the large pink light. “And what is that?”
“Whatever it is it must be humongous to be seen so clearly from so far.” Angela said
“I… I think that’s what’s blocking my lookamancy. Pink is the signamancy color for Eyemancers, at least in each Emm Kay I’ve visited.”
Angela and Manichek looked at each other in mutual surprise, clearly those here believed their MK was the only one. Such a common misconception. Before they could speak though the King clapped his hands loudly.
“It is settled then! Map maker, your request for extension is approved at upkeep only costs plus a share of anything we find within. Montague, my apologies but Prince IldeKroek is being returned to Chief Warlord, we’re gonna need his higher bonus to have a chance at taking out all those ferals. Prepare the units to move out at turn’s start tomorrow, by my order!” Marquis Montague bowed and headed out of the room. GilSoma turned to Carl, “Mister Rapher, if there is anything you need from the Magic Kingdom I suggest you get it now, it’s a three turn trip to Gloom Island by ship, and we don’t have a portal there for you to retreat through.”
“Yes, your Eminence, thank you for your consideration. I will be as quick as possible” Carl bowed and turned to head back to the portal. As he left he could hear the Emperor speaking again, to his casters.
“Either of you think your disciplines can help in the coming battles?”
“I can do my Luckamancy from here sire, as long as we keep an archon or two for communications that should be enough.”
“Sorry lord, I’m not a hot caster. Most I could do is maybe enchant some of their armors and weapons, but the risk would be too great for such a meager bonus in a war…”
Carl was now down the stairs heading through the main hall. Imagine, the possible resting place of one of the arkentools. Even if it’s already been cleared this would be the find of a lifetime! Maybe important enough to bump me straight to master! He moved down the hall with a skip in his step.
Prince IldeKroek Ghyaholl sat at the edge of the lake hex with his army. Waiting, hoping that he hadn’t just gotten one of their few Archons croaked. Sure, he had dozens of ‘Tween angels stationed in the cities he’d conquered here, not to mention in his own stack. But every loss of an Archon would make things that much harder.
Still, his father had made the order for this. First time since IldeKroek had come to the island that father had shown even the slightest interest in what went on here. He looked to the sky, hoping to see the Archon flying in from the lake hex, to no avail. The turn was almost over. They were three hexes from Flickerville, his most recent conquest. It was time to go, he called to his troops to move out.
One hex closer and he got a pleasant surprise. He was Chief Warlord again! The soldiers under his command looked around as surprised as he was, then they cheered and congratulated him. IldeKroek smiled, but he knew what this also meant… father now had a vested interest of his own on this island.
Originally he had thought the island only belonged to this Bayview side… at least they were the only forces he’d met until having taken Sparksburg nearer the south. He’d seen a few units of another side down there, near the new border. They hadn’t had a speaking unit so he couldn’t learn…
His hat rumbled. IldeKroek sighed, pulling out the wand and calling forth what father sent. The map he had asked for fell out… as well as orders from the Emperor. Hmmm… hex heavily guarded by ferals? That’s odd, and he was sending… by the Titans! He was getting 7 of their 9 mainland Archons and the two Valkyries as well as the Yomama and some BBBWs? And nearly a third of their basic troops? And a caster… the hired lookamancer was coming over personally to assist in finding a way in. All were to arrive in dock at BonBon port in 4 turns.
He halted his mount, turning around to face the previous hex… the last hex he had seen Faith alive in. Whatever had been seen in there must certainly be worth it for him to be getting this much aid. When he told the Emperor his plan for this isle they had argued for hours over how many units he’d get. In the end he had been able to convince his father to send a fourth of their forces with him… now? He was getting nearly everything, easily 80% of their total compliment. A chill went down his spine and quickly turned to the heat he felt whenever he went berserk. There was certain to be even harder fighting to come. He could feel his body boil in anticipation.
But, not today… he had to keep calm. Not lose control. There weren’t any enemy units around anyways. No point in going berserk right now.
He grabbed the map and looked it over. Looked like each of the major sides on the island held five cities, plus a fort for Bayview and Dwagon Berch. Dwagon Berch eh? He hadn’t see any Dwagons yet, but then again it may have only been a scouting force he’d encountered, they were QuestingCouatls after all. And what was that far off island, controlled by… ARRris? An odd name… and their livery looked like a gobwin’s drawing.
Hmmm… the terrain said the same thing father wanted. Mountains were too harsh terrain for his ground units, sure the ‘Tween Angels and other flyers could make it with a lower penalty, or just fly over the water hexes, but no… looked like he’d have to fight this Dwagon Berch as well, or negotiate with them for passage if he met one of their warlords he supposed. Maybe get them to fight against Bayview too? Would make conquering them easier, but no. Father wanted into the central part of the map, the part where the hexes were left blank… and that meant going through Dwagon Berch first.
So be it. Their nearest city was 3 turns tops by land, 2 if he left behind the siege. And according to the map he could send his troops from Sparksburg to hit their nearby port town too at the same time! If one of the two had a warlord, they’d negotiate, after that, whichever way the engagement went, he could swing out east and pick up his reinforcements before returning to claim this mysterious central island within the island. Either way, he had to deal with Dwagon Berch before he could move on the central hex area. From what the report from father said, even with the reinforcements he simply wouldn’t have enough airpower to send in there and win. He had to go in by land.
QuestingCouatl- A non-humanoid, non-speaking unit. Can be found feral, and is capable of being tamed. They appear to be large winged snakes. Their scales take on the signamancy of each hex they pass through, granting them a limited version of a scouting special as long as a speaking unit is nearby. Unlike actual scout units the QuestingCouatl cannot withdraw without a commander in their stack. QuestingCouatls have three specials; poisonous bite, limited shockamancy, and distract. According to Haggard’s Compilation of Feral Nuisances even though QuestingCouatls have wings, they do not gain the flight special until after their fifth or sixth level.
Behemoth- Large Heavy units that have both the siege and forest capable specials. Found feral in forest hexes. Their bodies appear semi-humanoid, but are fully covered in fur with horns sticking from their heads and joints. Behemoths may have additional specials from the following list: Terror, Crush, Rage, or Berserk. It is unknown if they gain these specials via levelling up or if they must pop with them.
Juggernaut- A heavily armor plated feral unit that is untameable. This unit's sole known special is 'larger than life' which consists of the unit always taking a size/weight class above that of the biggest unit it is fighting/recently fought, returning to a smaller size only at start of turn. Their armor plating is generally red and fully covers their body, allowing for only their eyes and occassional chin to show. Haggard’s Compilation of Feral Nuisances claims that their helmet exists solely "to protect their pretty face" and that if angered their battle howl sounds almost like language saying "I'm a Juggernaut BOOP!"