Money Makes the World Go Round - Part 17
(Previous Chapter: http://www.erfworld.com/blog/view/55042/money-makes-the-world-go-round-part-16)
Tramennis sighed. He’d hoped that when Gobwin Knob gave him the turn, he’d be able to make good use of it, but so far, all his efforts had proven for naught. The archons in the adjoining hex were nowhere to be found. Oh, they were still there, somewhere. After all, no matter what sort of power the Arkendish allowed, they were off turn, but not one of his warlords or even casters had been able to spot them. The fact that the hex was a field hex actually made that feat all the more impressive.
Worse, his attempts to contact the other sides had failed. Bunny hadn’t even sent a busy signal, which said either she wasn’t listening at all, or Charlie was jamming them. Well, it was possible someone else was, but he doubted it, after all, even Maggie was proving incapable of contacting anyone else. He’d even, in a desperate bid, tried to contact that foul King Dickie, and found him unavailable. That alone said much about how isolated they were.
“Sir,” said one of his knights, handing him a report. The paper, a report sent by hat, felt good in his hands, as he looked towards where Cubbins and Ace were discussing things with the Dirtamancer from Gobwin Knob. Apparently Ace was thanking the smaller man for his fast and good work on fortifications, and asking questions about the same. He even proposed, where Tramennis could hear, that they should link up to better defend the city. Once his juice was restored at Dawn, of course.
Still, he turned back to the report, which said many things, including that the scouting units on the edges of his territory were finding themselves blocked at the borders of his kingdom. King Dickie hadn’t quite broken alliance yet, but Haggar was certainly leaning that way, eyeing the two cities Jetstone had seized from them in order to coerce that fool into the second Royal Crown Coalition.
More surprising was Hobbittm. King Froblo and Slately had never quite been friends, but they’d at least gotten along as well as could be expected. They were polite, and very honest with each other. Heck, they were probably the only ones who really still understood the meaning of honor, what with the weight that Froblo himself always seemed to carry. Now, however, their units stood in every adjoining hex, and Jetstone was forbidden entrance, on pain of breaking the alliance.
“Your majesty, may I have a word with you?” asked the Moneymancer, walking up and bowing to the King, his short ponytail flipping as he did so. The Caster was now decked out in a set of golden set robes that hid his body, including that unusual arm of his, as well as the battle attire he wore beneath. A few courtiers around Tramennis looked askance at their King, expecting the order to send the foreigner Caster away, but their King smiled at this man, who had probably saved his life and his kingdom but hours past.
“You may, Lord Drachma,” he said, and the Caster approached him, brandishing as he did, one of Charlie’s odd weapons. The gun, as Parson had identified it, shined in the light of the plaza, looking like a pipe of some kind. It’s appearance belied its nature, as the most destructive weapon Tramennis had ever witnessed in his many turns.
“I have sad new to report about these weapons, things Lord Hamster believed it best to inform you of now, before you get too much of your hopes up,” as he spoke, he held the weapon out, and Tramennis took it by the grip, trilling with his tongue as he felt a tingle, as the weapon gave him a bonus. Looking at himself, he realized that he suddenly had an archery specialization, where none had been before.
“Most interesting. I feel as though I could hit a target at a hundred paces with this weapon, a feat I could nary hope to achieve with my own sidearm. Odd though, you would think the archons would have been able to do more damage to us with weapons such as these,” he said, eyeing a bit of column that hadn’t settled properly at the edge of the plaza. Idly, he toyed with the idea of firing the weapon at it, before lowering it to his side and looking once more towards the Caster.
“My friend, the Predictamancer Marie, has many ideas about that, most centering around Parson. She believes Luck is on his side, a destiny he must complete, before his end will be allowed to occur,” explained the Caster, and Tramennis stroked his chin while nodding. He had Charlie’s reports on Parson, and it was easy to see where that destiny lay.
“I hope Parson doesn’t mind me saying, that is a destiny I hope he completes sooner, rather than later,” he said with a warm smile, that Drachma returned, before offering the king a second gun, this one not quite as shiny. Giving the first back, he felt the specialization of archer leave him, but then was surprised when taking up the new weapon did nothing for him.
“Odd, is this one of different make somehow?” he asked, hefting the weapon, and looking towards that same column, and knowing just by looking at his chances of hitting it were almost nothing.
“It is. The first rifle is my duplication of a captured weapon, a perfect replica, as you can see from the emblem,” he spoke as he popped out a container from the bottom of the weapon, something like a small rectangle, with an opening at the top. The Charlescomm emblem was plain to see at its side. Quick as a flash, Tramennis flipped his own weapon over, and ejected the same cartridge from his, revealing his own radish staring at him.
“Ah, this would be the one Ace was working on earlier,” he noted, remembering the Dollamancer and Dirtamancer linking earlier to create it, which had sadly, cost Ace most of the juice he had regained with his side’s turn.
“It is, and it lacks the special that the original and my copies provide. Its price is, thus much lower, less than a tenth in fact,” that fact seeped into the King’s own plans, and spoiled more of them than he would have liked to admit.
“So, only archers should be given this weapon, until more can be produced?” he asked, and Drachma took in a deep breath, before sighing it out, ruffling his snow white beard.
“I’m afraid it’s worse than that. I offered that gun to one of your archers, and found that, while it works, it is not as accurate as the one I created,” he said, and Tramennis considered that fact. He had hoped that, given he had the Doll, and Gobwin Knob had the Dirt, it would only be together that they could create the weapons stolen from Charlie, but given this, it was obvious that GK was going to be the only one to make guns that were any good.
“Most distressing. How many of these weapons do we believe Charlie has?” he asked, and Drachma just shook his head.
“The Archons do not know, not because they’ve never seen them, but just because Charlie apparently has so many at his capital that they never bothered to count,” answered the Caster, and looking at the weapon in his hand, knowing the damage even this off-model thing could do, he was given pause. Could anything stop Charlie? Why had he hidden this advantage for so long? So many questions about this.
“More, these are, according to the archons, only Tier Two weapons. They don’t know how many more Tiers there are, but Parson says their descriptions of Tier Three remind him of weapons his world call lay-zers. They are said to be deadly at ranges even these guns cannot reach, and hit even faster,” that made everyone in the plaza freeze in place, given that everyone present remembered the damage the guns had done. To know Charlie had not only a surplus of such weapons, but ones with even more destructive power? That was a thing that could stop your blood cold.
“Why then does he play with us? If these weapons are so formidable, surely his side could have conquered us by now?” asks the King, and Drachma shook his head.
“Lord Hamster wishes to discuss that in private tonight. I believe he has many ideas, and wants us to give him opinions on them, he merely wished to inform you of the situation with the weapons,” said the Caster. This left everyone quiet for some time, before the King ran his fingers through his hair, and smiled.
“That’s a relief then. We have ideas, and that is the start of solving the problem. I want you to thank your Chief Warlord for his information, and tell him that when he needs me, I’ll make myself available to him,” said Tramennis, with a warm smile to the Caster who took back the weapons. Drachma returned the smile, as best he could through his beard, and then stalked off back into the tower.
Once he was out of sight, Tramennis returned to his Duty, directing and guiding Jetstone towards a brighter future. For all that he was worried about Charlie, he could sense something else in the air, like a Shock spell had been stored in the very air around him. Something about that was thrilling, and he was still smiling as he shored up his defenses, preparing his side for the long battles to come.