Money Makes the World Go Round - Part 20
(Previous Chapter: http://www.erfworld.com/blog/view/55792/money-makes-the-world-go-round-part-19 )
The turn didn’t start at dawn. It was expected, of course, and the newly minted alliance of Jetstone and Gobwin Knob units were scouring the hex adjoining the city itself the moment the day began. Sadly, they just missed the archons, the arrows and even a few bullets they fired at them stopping at the boundary of the hex, and allowing the flying knights to zoom off, some of them shouting taunts at their pursuers as they fled beyond sight.
A few traps were set to catch them, but without a prisoner slowing them down, the archons were likely to make it back to Charlie. Expected, but still disappointing. Luckily, the turn started a few minutes later, showing the alliance was alone everywhere else. This would allow them to put in place as many preparations as they could manage, before anything else Charlie did could come into play against them.
Of course, the start of Turn and even the Dawn itself, had come with surprises. The one at Dawn was the most worrisome. The Portal in Jetstone itself was inactive. The tower was rebuilt, with discounts thanks to the Gowbin Knob Casters, but the arch that should have held the shimmering curtain remained blank and featureless, causing many a soldier who saw it to swear and make Titan marks in front of them, before going about their duty.
Worse than that was the issue of communication. The moment the Turn had come, Tramennis had sent as many communications as he could, wanting to get the word out of what was happening and why to as many ears as he could. The crown he used, the thing that should have been his connection to so many, remained silent, however. Not a single missive made it through, and even thinkagrams courtesy of Maggie failed to find their mark.
They could still contact Stanley, using that strange link of Fool and Think, but while before that same link could have found anyone, today it too was being blocked. Natural Thinkamancy still worked, however, and Tramennis had a good sense of his side, quickly ordering units about, restructuring the side based off Parson’s instructions. His Chief Warlord cautioned him, and he was inclined to agree normally with the woman, who had been one of Ossomer’s best, but then the turn had started, and they’d gotten a nice surprise.
Jetstone was an old side, one of the few able to trace their line directly back to one of the Ninety-Nine Originals, and thus, they knew how to manage a city. Administrators in perfect arrangement, with supports for them all reducing the costs of the cities to almost nothing. With a Moneymancer, a Master at that, leading the effort, he was now seeing those benefits multiplied many times over, as Drachma was made Chief Caster of the entire alliance.
It wasn’t quite enough to flip the table around, and give them positive money gain, but it was actually closer than he’d ever seen it, and with that in mind, he did as Parson had instructed, silencing his own Chief Warlord. For the first time in living memory, Dhrystone, and three other cities within Jetstone’s sphere of influence, were set not to produce new units, but instead to produce shmuckers.
It was an old trick, one of those things every ruler knew about. For the cost of half your production, your city could become a generator of wealth, rather than military power. It was how smaller sides stayed solvent long enough to grow into bigger ones. Of course, it was very inefficient, as any warlord would be happy to tell their ruler. Worse, while it worked for a while, a side with too many cities would find that they’d lose money, even with that, and would need to raze cities, simply to keep their treasury from emptying out.
Tramennis was one to agree with this statement, he’d heard about sides, read the books about them in the library, who’d tried to beat the system with some esoteric setup. It always ended in failure before, with the side collapsing into nothing, and being carved up by neighbors. However, with Parson’s ideas, lateral thinking as he called it, they were going to prove conventional wisdom wrong, or croak trying.
Over the course of the turn, they gathered the majority of Jetstone’s troops at the border with Haggar, while most of Gobwin Knob’s army hard marched towards Spacerock. It would take several turns for them to arrive, and more than once, he was advised in secret, or openly depending on the advice giver, to take the city back. After all, it was theirs. Tramennis refused for multiple reasons, chief amongst them being the simple fact that Hagger would be in a position to take advantage of such a move.
No, he reinforced his southern board, setting his pieces exactly as he was told to, always asking the question ‘why?’ should the placement itself be odd. Parson, for his part, seemed to welcome a leader who wished to learn, and would typically explain his plans, not in great detail, as they didn’t have that much time, but in brief, giving him enough to work out some of the emerging strategies himself.
For instance, when he told them to place a group of tchotchkes, and their handlers, in a small mountain pass. There were seemingly better places for the them, especially given the move penalty the mountains would put on the animals, but Parson showed him a scenario on the Foolamancy projected map where Haggar’s forces were lured in, and then stopped in the adjoining hex, whereupon the group would pounce, with the tchotchkes gaining a bonus for Crystal Lake nearby.
Falling back was not a completely unknown tactic in Erfworld, or to Tramennis, who had gotten many a tale from his brothers of being the victim or doing the same to their foes, but Parson took his to extra levels. That group was itself merely a feint, as they would clearly be seen moving into the hex, and draw Haggar forces into the mountains, giving the cities even more time to prepare for them, should the new alliance fail to stop them at all.
So the day went, Parson slowly showing Tramennis his plans, while Gobwin Knob’s own major force flew back to Spacerock. By turn’s end, every unit they had was exhausted of move, and just exhausted in general, given the way he felt many slump down. They’d nearly completely rearranged the side, and Tramennis was smiling as he and the warlords retired for the evening, Parson and his group in the western tower’s best guest rooms.
The next turn dawned, and the allied sides were grateful to find their Turn starting at first light, showing they were alone, for the moment, and they quickly got to work once more. Of course, this was also the first morning Tramennis got to feel the treasury increase, rather than decrease, as it would typically. Not by much, just a few shmuckers, but it was still enough to nearly shock him into paralysis, before work forced him to keep going.
And thus things continued. Units were moved, and popped, in specific amounts, while Drachma began the slow process of building up their armory. Within five Turns, the alliance had almost twenty rifles, and many of the ‘jetpacks’ as Parson called them, enough to give Tramennis’ own warlords the flight special, which in turn would allow them to move between battles, when it came time for the fighting.
Meanwhile, with Sizemore’s help, cities were being upgraded and altered, made to maximize bonuses for money production. Lloyd was hard at work doubling, and redoubling bonuses, and with Maggie’s help, they were able to link him with others, meaning he could double their abilities, which in turn gave them all the more options at their fingertips, a fact that made Parson grin in a particularly evil way.
Ace was set to making more of his ‘accessories’ as well, even allowing him to link at time or two with the other casters. In turn, Drachma would list out prices of created items, Parson making lists of what to make more of. One of the most interesting was the Healing Shiv, as Parson declared it, a knife made by Pierce and Ace linking, which healed a unit, instead of harming them, something that Parson said was a real game changer.
Six turns later, the sun dawned to much the same, until two reports came. Haggar’s forces had withdrawn from the border, an oddity to be sure, but likely King Dickie merely being the coward that he always was, unwilling to risk his forces if there was even a chance of a loss. That would free up some of their southern defenders, and would offer the side many more possibilities, but even as Parson and Tramennis discussed them, a second sheet was brought, and it held a chilling account.
FAQ was attacking Transylvito, and not in a small way. A force of FAQ units had been spotted by a dwagon scout along the border wiping out a Transylvito patrol. That alone was worrisome, as Tramennis knew how much Don King had invested in FAQ, and how, even after everything, the old bat had wanted to continue mentoring the warrior queen, shape her up into someone with real honor and the like.
The more troubling part was the description of the units that had done the deed. For one thing, it was a light force. Five stabbers and one warlord on gwiffon back, assaulting two warlords with full stacks and lots of bats. That should have been a slaughter for the FAQ units, but the battle had decisively gone the other way, because the stabbers had been equipped with guns, and had simply torn apart the bat swarm.
“Charlie,” was all Tramennis had said, but he felt the name shiver up his spine. This was worse than he’d thought possible. Everyone knew, thanks to Parson and his own information, that Jillian had been taking backdoor deals with Charlie, but to go this far, and attack her allies? This wasn’t just a betrayal, it was an offense, one that needed to be countered as soon as possible.
“Hmm,” was all Parson said as he looked at the map before him, tracing routes with his finger, and mumbling numbers to himself for several minutes. At last, he called over the Foolamancer and Thinkamancer, having them link, so that an image of Stanley could be cast into the room.
“Hamster, you look worried. I don’t like that look,” he said the moment his form resolved, and Parson’s response was to nod.
“Charlie’s making a move. We’re not even close to ready to take him head on, but if we let him gain momentum, we’re going to lose this war before the first shot is fired,” he said, and laid out the information as they knew it. Stanley, for his part, stayed quiet as the situation was laid out, detailing units they had in the area, and other such things.
“So, let me guess, you need my dwagons to go flying in to save the day?” asked Stanley, getting an arrogant smirk on his face as he hefted the hammer, looking ready to take the fight to his enemy.
“We’ll need them, yes, as many as you can spare from your current flight, and some of the Warlords as well. I don’t like leaving you hanging, but…” he let the statement trail off.
“Bah, you think I’m weak enough to be taken down? I’ll admit, Hamster, that Charlie caught me flat footed, but that’s not going to happen again. Who do you want? Ansom’s got the best bonus,” he commented, and Parson shook his head.
“That’s why he needs to stay with you. Even if he’s willing, I don’t want him going against Jillian. The way she acted at Brookstone when we were coming back from Spacerock makes me want to keep them as far from each other as possible,” he commented, and began to go over routes, selecting a hex to meet up at that would mean their force could get to Transylvito in a few turns time.
“And when we come swooping in to save their fangs, that old tub of lard is gonna fall down onto his fat knees and kiss my boots. Good job Parson,” said Stanley with a smirk, and then cut the line, so he could give the orders.
“Your ruler is a pleasant little twoll, isn’t he?” asked Tramennis, and Parson’s duty refused to allow him to respond. Instead he began to issue orders, including bringing up half their rifles and all their jetpacks. Ordering them brought to the meeting room, he asked for all the Warlords and Casters to join him in the meeting hall. It was time this newly minted alliance scuffed itself a bit by kicking Charlie’s rear end.
(Next Chapter: TBD)
There are strategy games that let you spend money to increase production. it could be that for Erfworld the base production isn't that great and the optimal efficiency point is actually spending a small amount of Schmuckers.
I'm liking this story. Charlie's coming out hard and fast despite not doing anything directly.