Yet Another Self Insert Fan Fiction, Part 11
Whether they were sick of Stanley’s rule, acted out of a sense of self-preservation or simply did not want to remain prisoner any longer than they had to, in the end, I got most of the assembled troops.
But not all of them.
Bogroll was not among those who turned to my side. The worst part was the fact that he did not even act angry. Betraying one’s own ruler did simply not belong to Bogroll’s world, the thought was utterly incomprehensible to him which left him in a state of shock. My question if he wanted to turn to SC remained unanswered as Bogroll simply stared at me. In the end I could not wait any longer and moved on. Hopefully he would learn to understand me and my reasons with time.
Other prisoners were not so passive and made their opinions quite clear. Most of those who refused to turn where of low level; they were popped not too long ago under the rule of Stanley and still imbued with their starting loyalty. One of the pikers spat in my face when I asked her to turn. A lot of people had tensed up, most likely fearing the worst...
I did not get angry and simply said, ”I take that as a no”, before continuing to the next one. As expected, it had been the one with the odd name in the stack who had acted more active. Maybe I could turn her to my side in the future.
A bunch of the higher level units also did not turn. Some openly stated that they were still loyal to Stanley; others stated that they would rather croak then turn. A few simply remained silent. I probably could have forced them to at least give me a reason why they chose not to turn to my side but if they wanted to remain silent that was their prerogative.
I would have to keep a close eye on the newly turned units for having little loyalty to me, hopefully the way I turned them would increase their loyalty compared to the usual way; though being non commanders would limit their options severely anyway. I let the remaining prisoners stay in the courtyard for now, they would have to be crammed into the dungeon soon enough.
By the time I was finished with dealing with all the speaking units, the Turnamancers had ran out of juice. Thankfully non-speaking units, or animals as we used to call them back on Earth, were much easier to turn than speaking units, especially when they were barbarian. Basically the magically enforced portion of the assembled unit’s loyalty had been lost the moment Gobwin Knob ceased to exist. What was left were memories and retained feelings which caused a unit to be loyal to their former ruler, friends and comrades which might lead a unit to actively resist turning efforts, especially by Turnamancy. Not only where the animals memories fuzzier, they lacked the ability to truly understand what was going on and so did not hate me for betraying their former ruler. Also, they could not truly realize what was happening when Turnamancy was applied to them. There were always exceptions, but on average the non-speaking units were less likely to decide to actively resist Turnamancy while at the same time they possessed a much lower capacity to do so. I had been worried that the dwagons would be difficult to turn because of their connection with the Arkenhammer, so I had lent it to the Turnamancers to help with the converting process. Apparently it was not too difficult to overcome whatever additional loyalty the Arkenhammer may have imbued to Stanley’s former dwagons, either because the dwagons where no longer connected to the same side as Stanley or Stanley was not in possession of the Arkenhammer at the moment or because holding the Arkenhammer while applying Turnamancy gave a bonus which was sufficient to negate any potential problems. A combination of those factors or some additional ones I had not thought of was certainly also possible. I did not have the time or the means to properly analyze what truly was the case. The results were quite beneficial to me as the Turnamancers had, with the help of the Thinkamancers, the Arkenhammer and practically every piece of meat which had been left in the pantry, managed to turn all of the dwagons to SC.
That left the spidews and the golems. Golems went almost inactive when they did not either belong to a side or a barbarian commander as they lacked the ability to show any initiative on their own. As prisoners they would follow my commands without there being any chance of disobedience. Turning them would be extremely cheap, juice wise, especially if the caster who originally created them could be involved. That would be yet another linkup, my debt to the Great Minds that Think Alike kept on growing. That was the price for getting things done fast though and given what they would demand of me, taking down Charlie, I considered my demands to be quite fair.
All in all that left me with the following forces:
46 Dwagons of various colors and levels
1 Foolamancer, functioning
1 Thinkamancer, functioning
1 Lookamancer, functioning
1 Dirtamancer, functioning
1 Croakamancer, functioning, annoying, disloyal
In the near future I would hopefully be able to add
15 Crap Golems
9 Soft Rock Golems
4 Hard Rock Golems
2 Acid Golems
1 Metal Golem
while the 36 Spidew Cavalry could be left for later.
All in all, a mighty force. Unfortunately it was not mighty enough. While I had 6 commander units if I counted myself, my side still lacked leadership. The Royal Crown Coalition in contrast had a lot of it available. If it came to a battle at my capital then all my units would benefit from my leadership bonus of 4 because the Chief Warlord leadership bonus would apply to all units in the capital. Unfortunately, the in same hex as Chief Warlord bonus Prince Ansom would provide to his troops was 5. So I would be vastly outnumbered by troops which would enjoy a higher leadership bonus than mine all around. If the RCC got their act together and formed a couple of max stacks consisting of their best units led by their warlords and concentrated those at one point they would be damn hard to stop, especially if those stacks were properly supported by a lot of archers to protect against dwagon raiding charges. Which led me to my next problem. For every archer I had, the RCC had about one hundred or so. The biggest advantage my city had on paper, the big ass walls which Parson had counted as level 8 instead of the usual maximum of level 5 because of the unique territory, were next to useless because I had so little units to take advantage of them. Even assuming a hit ratio of 95% for my archers against a hit ratio of 5% by unled archers against units profiting from those walls I would lose an archery contest by wipe out. Assuming 2000 enemy archers with 10 arrows each that would be 20000 shots resulting in 1000 hits against 228 troops I could put on the walls. And that would mean that I left everything else, including the garrison, defenseless, which would practically guarantee a loss of course meaning I could in fact not deploy all troops to the walls. The picture got even worse assuming they used warlords to boost those archery odds. That meant that the walls would be simply not defensible.
I might be able to hold the garrison, using it as a base hex of sorts. Anything that would enter my airspace could be shot at by a spelled up tower which meant that I still had air superiority. A combination of air strikes by dwagons and underground attacks by Sizemore and his golems using Wanda’s storage of scrolls might destroy enough enemy leadership to tilt the battle in my favor. At least I did not have to worry about the tunnel zone. With the preparations I had made, ruling out direct titanic intervention, nothing would survive down there if I did not want it too. Even Fate would be hard pressed to interfere. But all those measures did not address the worst case scenario.
Since Gobwin Knob as a side did no longer exist, the contract with the RCC about not hiring third sides also no longer existed. Defending the city against the RCC might be possible or even easily achievable, depending on what kind of mean tricks and tactics I could come up with. But defending against the RCC and Charlie? That would be truly hopeless in any conventional scenario I could think of right now. If Charlie would send in some Archons then the RCC would have even more leadership in addition to some really sick shockmancy power. My dwagons would be blown apart before they could even come close to Ansom. The Archons would counter Foolamancy, they could dance fight, they could veil themselves and attack my casters… Those flying swiss army knives had way too much flexibility and power for my tastes.
The conclusion of all that tactical considerations was that I could not allow the RCC’s troops to reach my city. That meant that the RCC would have to be either unable or unwilling to attack me. A diplomatic resolution would be ideal. Unfortunately I had only one turn to reach one, as the RCC would be able to attack on their next turn. Reaching a peace treaty would be already quite difficult, reaching one in one turn… sigh. The fact that I would have to deal with six different rulers, all of them royal, was also not very promising. The driving force behind the RCC was King Slately, if I could convince him to leave my side alone then things would be resolved, at least with the RCC. Unfortunately King Slately was also totally anal about royal supremacy. He really wanted the capital side so that Prince Ansom could become King of a Jetstone colony. Given all the effort he had put into making deals to that end with Transylvito and the other Royal Crown Coalition sides proved that he would be very reluctant to bury those plans. At the least, he would probably expect me to pay tribute to Jetstone and the rest of the RCC as compensation for the aggravation of having to tolerate a non-royal side next to them. And even that would only be a realistic outcome if I could convince him that conquering SC would be too troublesome. So unless I smashed the RCC down really hard, there was probably little hope to reach an acceptable relationship with King Slately.
Fortunately there were other options besides King Slately. From all rulers in the RCC I had information about, Don King was the most moderate concerning the issue of royal supremacy. After the Prince Ponzie disaster, he was ruling his kingdom merit based. Since I had stopped Toolism in its tracks, there would be less reason for him to revert to staunch royalism, even though King Slately was constantly nagging him about it. Good news for Caesar Borgota, Don King’s non-royal heir and Chief Warlord. From all sides in the RCC, Transylvito had also committed the least forces to the fight against Gobwin Knob. It should be a hell of a lot easier to reach an acceptable deal with Don King than with King Slately. Since Don King had a, let us say, special relationship with Queen Bea, he might be able to convince her to acknowledge my side. That would much lessen the pressure SC was under and help greatly in reaching a permanent agreement with all of the Royal Crown Coalition sides. As soon as my turn started it would be time to “discover” that Transylvito had a Thinkamancer.
Speaking of turn start, I had no idea how long that would take. It could be next moment, in five minutes or an hour or more. Not too much more though, judging from the way the sun stood in the sky, it was about 4.00 pm or maybe 5.00 pm, at least in this hex. Time really was strange in Erfworld. I would have to study the phenomena, among a lot of others, there had to be ways to take advantage of the differences between Erf and Earth. Right now I could use the time left till turn start to settle a couple of domestic matters. I needed a Chief Caster for example.
The candidate with the most seniority and experience was Wanda.
Even if the summoning spell, Fate and the Titans would physically manifest and order me to make her Chief Caster: still NO!
Jack Snipe was definitely qualified, both by his levels and his sharp mind. However I had a different post in mind for him, one whose responsibilities should not be mixed up with the duties of the Chief Caster.
Misty was of course not an option because of her lack of experience. That left Maggie and Sizemore. Maggie was a spy for the Great Minds that Think Alike, so giving her the Chief Caster position was out of the question. Also, she would be quite busy acting as my Chief Secretary, even if that post did not officially exist in Erfworld.
That left Sizemore. He was a solid choice, dependable, careful, knowledgeable about magic in general and most important of all, loyal. It would help of course if he could gain a level or two. Also it would be really nice if he could manage to achieve master class in Dirtamancy, though that would be a long term goal. The only real problem I foresaw with having Sizemore as Chief Caster was the fact that my choice might cause indignation with the other casters. It definitely would cause indignation with Wanda. Too bad. It would be Sizemore’s responsibility and duty to enforce his Chief Caster status against Wanda. If he could not do that I would be forced to give Jack the job. But I was hopeful that Sizemore could stand his ground if he had to.
Now to get things in motion. Apropos motion. At the moment I was a garrison unit with a move of zero. There was strong evidence that units gained move when promoted to field unit, at least if it was their turn. Queen Bea had apparently promoted all her units to field units and sent them out on the same turn after all. However I was not completely sure. Also, I was special, so whatever rules applied to other units might not necessarily also apply to me. If I needed move I should be able to use a mount for that purpose, even in case I would not get move on the turn I promoted myself from garrison to field unit, a step which would be necessary sooner or later, as garrison units could not leave a city, not even with the help of mounts. Promoting myself would cause my upkeep to rise further. Parson had had an upkeep of 1178 Shmuckers at level 3. Thanks to croaking those uncroaked, I was one level higher than Parson, even though I barely had spent any time on Erf. According to my bracer my upkeep was over 1300 already, and I was still a garrison unit. Presumably, it would be raised by more than 140 Shmuckers if I promoted myself. That was unfortunate, but another decisive argument to promote myself was that I was the ruler of SC and as such should not stay a garrison unit.
“As ruler and chief warlord of SC, I hereby promote myself to field unit.” I said. My upkeep rose to over 1500 Shmuckers.
I walked over to my assembled casters. They had been observing me as I interacted with the non-commander units with various degrees of interest.
“All right folks, while we are waiting for turn start let us deal with a couple of organizational issues. I have got a couple of positions to assign people to. First Jack Snipe. I know we are a non-royal side and I do not wish to create a formal court. Nevertheless, I would like you to assume the position of court jester.”
“You expect me to provide entertainment to our nonexistent court?” Jack raised one eyebrow as he replied.
“Heh, no. Though feel free to provide entertainment if you want. I am led to believe you are quite good at that. No, I want you to focus on the important duties of a jester, setting your ruler straight. However I have to tell you that I do not enjoy being made fun off and would rather like to the point criticisms to my face instead if you come to the conclusion that those are necessary. In private, preferably, if time and circumstances allow for that.”
“Very well, I shall act as your non-court jester to the best of my abilities.”
“Thanks, Jack. I will try to give you as few reasons to do anything in your new position as possible.” I said with a small smile, then I addressed Maggie.
“Maggie, for you I am thinking about the posts of Chief of Staff and Chief Secretary. As a Thinkamancer you are uniquely suited for those tasks.”
“I have to admit that I am not familiar with the title Chief Secretary, Overlord.” Maggie replied, slightly puzzled.
“It describes a formal and very important position back in my world. I will explain your duties to you later in more detail, suffice to say you will act as my personal assistant, screening thinkamancy calls, inquiries and requests and dealing with them when appropriate, helping me remember ideas and agendas I could not pursue at the time I thought of them, stuff like that.”
“I see, that does seem to be similar to what a Thinkamancer usually does for his or her side.”
“Great, does that mean you accept those positions?”
“You are the Overlord, simply order it”. Maggie replied with a even more puzzled expression.
“I could of course. But it is more polite to ask and pretend I could not.”
Maggies puzzled expression deepened further, she seemed to be thinking.
“By the way, you have not yet said if you would accept my offer.”
Maggie gave herself a shake. “Very well, I shall do my very best to serve as Chief of Staff and Chief Secretary of SC."
“Thank you, Maggie.” I mentally ordered it, at least the Chief of Staff part, and that was that.
“Now, there is one position left, perhaps the most important one, perhaps not, but definitely the most prestigious. Sizemore Rockwell, are you willing to serve as my Chief Dirtamancer?"
A lot of people thought ‘what’ at that moment. Some said it out loud. Namely Sizemore and Wanda. Perhaps some others as well, I had been mostly paying attention to those two.
“Before you say anything Sizemore, let me tell you that I thought long and hard about this topic, that I know you do not wish to be Chief Dirtamancer of SC and that up to this moment, you may never have thought about becoming Chief Caster of any side. Also think about the facts that this position may not be permanently yours, you are free to ask me to strip that position off of you in case you truly think that you cannot live up to it. For now, just think.”
I turned my head towards Wanda.
“Wanda, I thought we had an understanding. Do we have an understanding?” I asked her with a pointed tone of voice.
After a long moment, Wanda replied. “Yes.”
Excellent, progress all around. It was time for Sizemore’s answer. I opened my mouth, then time ran out.
My turn had started.
So now the question is, can you defend the city without enough troops, without having to resort to the volcano.
We've had one Parson replacement succeed, with some very un-orthodox military tactics, but in your setup you don't have the archery nor the time for that. And, as you pointed out, you don't have Charlie kept out of the battle.