Volume 19 - Freezer Burn - The Life and Adventures of Sir Edelbert Spore
The Life and Adventures of Sir Edelbert Spore
It was turn 17 for Dart Frog 64 and so far, everything was going according to routine.
Hex eleven clear. Hop, hop, new hex, leap, chirp. No movement spotted. Hop, hop, leap, chirp ribbbit. No movement spotted. Hop, hop, leap, chirp, Dwagonfly snack. No movement spotted. Hex twelve clear. Hop, hop, new hex, leap, chirp. No movement spotted. Hop, hop, leap, chirp ribbbit. No movement spotted. Hop, hop, leap chirp. Movement spotted, pursue. Hop, hop, no chirp, watch. Movement spotted on hex 13c, redirect path? Awaiting orders…
Orders received, redirecting. Hop, hop, leap, new hex. Enemy sighted. Infantry, Heavies, Leadership, Specialty units…
That was the last thought of Dart 64. It croaked happy, having done its Duty.
It was turn 4872 and orders had just been sent out to all commander units in the Crafty Crags. Emergency Meeting on the Horizon Pavillion – Report Immediately.
Edelbert had been engaged making a new magic item, Weird-o-vision Spectacles. As much as it disappointed him, he stopped what he was doing and headed straight for the meeting. When he arrived, he realized he was the last commander to make it. “Sorry Highness, I was preoccupied when the order came in. I came as quickly as I could.
Arthur smiled knowingly at his Chief Caster. “It is all right Edelbert. You are here now, and we have much to discuss. This will come as a surprise to you all, it certainly shocked me. The SDE has a significant army present in our territory. They are within three turns striking distance of the capital already. Our next battle will be here. There is no avoiding it.”
Seated around the table were nine of the highest ranked members of the Mushroomish Kingdom. The King was of course present. Beside him sat Chiefs; Kernel, Mother, and Turnip. Edelbert and Peaches were in attendance. Vi usually came to these meetings, serving as the voice for the deamon tribe. The others were the two newest warlords of the side. Duke Longshot was an Archery capable warlord which had popped in Cliffside two turns prior. Last was Avery Axeman, a cutter unit which Kernel had promoted from the rank and file. He had shown exceptional presence of mind during a random encounter and saved his stack, levelling too.
“I have personally flown out to get an idea of the enemy composition. I used the Looking Glass and have rather clear counts of units.” Kernel took control of the meeting “We are facing a potentially side ending force. We can survive this, but it is going to take everything we have. I know you are each ready. The large block of infantry they have brought along is no surprise. They also have a significant group of knights on Hoarse-back. Their contingent of daemon is sizable, mostly Dolliwog and Dirtle. but there are a few advanced forms mixed in. Their flyer group is of fair size, consisting exclusively of Pudgey and Twobat. Considerable leadership is present as well as a small number of specialty stacks. I have no idea how they managed to get so close without our scouts taking note.”
Avery visibly shuddered. Peaches looked on with silent fear. Arthur held a look of confidence and joviality. Vi looked oddly hungry. Emotions were wild and varied.
“I will be recalling most of our commanders from the field. As well, I will be able to get almost all the Arrows and Darts into the city before the battle. Each of you will have specific assignments to carry out. Let us prepare, people.”
The turns had passed quickly. Edelbert spent his time building new golem by the dozen, Terracottas mostly. Now he was posted in the mines.
Crash Boom Crumble, the wall down the corridor from Edelbert burst and collapsed.
A wave of enemy troops charged forward into the tunnel and engaged with the waiting golem. The enemy force seemed to consist mostly of Dirtle, apparently working to counter Edelbert’s own Dirtamancy. In terms of Juice, the Dirtle did outweigh the Dirtmanacer, but his skills made him a formidable match. Then the Wardirtle emerged and the battle became dangerous.
The top of Ironwood Tower had a pleasantly warm breeze blowing. Sunlight streamed down, and frogs were chirping all over the tree. If not for the massive army climbing up the mountain, Princess Peaches could be enjoying herself.
Down on the ground thousands of soldiers marched, weapons in hand, toward their doom. Many people would croak on this turn. Those thoughts had no place in her mind at this time, so she pushed them away.
The sounds of battle began to echo up from below. Golem and Toadie troops were now engaging the enemy around the gate fortification that Edelbert had made. The Dart Frogs had all been posted near the entrance to the city on the walls. From there they would be able to rain poisoned projectiles down upon the enemy infantry as they attempted to gain access.
Peaches had three main duties during this battle. The first and most relevant was control of the Shockamancy stored within the tower, it was not an insubstantial amount either. The enemy had weak flyers, but they had brought them in considerable number. Worry was they would swarm Kernel and his Arrow Frogs, that could leave the Mushroomish army without a Chief Warlord during a critical fight.
Duty two was to wait for a signal to release a spell she had been storing up on the tower since a dozen turns prior. For the past three turns she had exclusively poured all her Flower Power into the city structure. When released, the energy would coalesce into a thick fog of poison which would settle down over the ground level of the city for about a minute. This would ideally croak a great many of the SDE infantry but even if it did not it would provide advantage. The golem and the Toadie were naturally immune to the poison the princess would summon. During that minute the Mushroomish troops would have nearly free reign to attack, fortify, or redeploy. The combination of effects was expected to be able to swing the battle in the kingdom’s favor even if they were losing.
Her last duty was to protect her father. If enemy forces were to gain access to the throne room, then she was to pacify them and capture them if at all possible. Kernel was very clear that any high value units that could be captured in this battle should be, the side would need the troops after this for certain. If active combat pushed too deeply toward the throneroom she was authorized to provide healing support to the Toadie knights guarding the King, that was considered unlikely.
Peaches tried to focus as the battle revved up below her. There, she could see Chief Kernel riding his Frog Brigade and unleashing volleys into the oncoming troops. Crossing the hex boundary came a large group of flying daemon. For the first time ever, she unleashed the fury of Ironwood Tower.
Crickrackathwaackboom, needles of pure Shockamancy forked off the central trunk and collided with the incoming flyers. Many little bodies dropped, but Peaches could see their number immediately replenish some. “Titans forsaken Twobats.” She unleashed another blast.
A powerful wind swept the top of the tower. This was not the warm breeze which had been blowing moments before, this was a gale force wind that was bitter cold to the touch. Moisture froze to the Florists legs as the wind seemed to swirl and began to focus high above the tower.
A voice magically light and yet clearly audible throughout the city suddenly chimed. “Wind and Frost, Commands the Wizard. Snow and Ice, responds the Blizzard.”
Peaches had never seen it, but she had heard it mentioned once before. Thick white snow began to fall in a blanket across the hex. A coating of fluffy powder formed on the tree’s leaves almost immediately.
He had been lucky. Two moderate hits were all Edelbert had taken in the tunnel fight. The enemy forces had retreated, presumably to meet back up with the above ground assault force. This freed Edelbert up to return to the tower. He could provide support for the main defense.
First, he ordered a group of Toadie knights to carry the captured and unconscious Wardirtle to a cell so that it could be turned later. Then he arranged the majority of the remaining tunnel forces into defensive formations. With what was left he assembled his own stacks and then headed up into the city.
Whatever the SDE was up to, this weather meant they had a caster. Kernel knew he did not have the experience to guess which type and unfortunately, he did not have time to call his own Chief Caster.
“Arrow Frogs, pull back to the tower. Roost and begin taking shots at targets of opportunity. Toadie retreat. Pull back to cover. Cycle in men and golem units.” He called out his orders against the wind.
The problem was that the frogs and all the plant units would take combat penalties in the cold. That put much of his forces at a severe disadvantage. His strategy would need to be altered to accommodate the new environmental factor. Battle was going well so far, but this could swing things in SDE favor. A significant percentage of his troops were Toadie or Frogs.
Edelbert exited the tower into the courtyard to find a strange scene. Corpses were scattered all over and many of them were frozen Mushroomish soldiers. The ground all around was covered in a thickening blanket of cold icy snow. Strangest of all, the corpses were scattered as if an explosion occurred and then froze in mid blast. Huge chunks of ice covered most of the bodies.
“What happened here?” The caster said in his astonishment. “No time. If they have already punched through here then they are inside the castle, we must find and stop them before they find the King. Move out.”
Him and his stack ascended the Ironwood Tower at a sprint. Moving through the hallways was easy. As a Dirtamancer he had an ingrained map inside of his head. Following that, he took the quickest route he could to where the King and Princess should have been. His passage went unopposed until the entry hall before the throne room.
Squared off in front of the entryway were Turnip, Vi, and a woman which Edelbert did not recognize. They all had units stacked with them. She wore an icy blue gown and a silver tiara in her blonde-white hair. The woman had her back to the Dirtamancer and her units did not seem to see his approach either. He had the opposition surprise flanked.
“Do not dare attack.” The woman was speaking to the daemon, who were poised to strike. “I can freeze you and your stack before you take a step. My name is Princess Elsa Toots, heir to the throne of the Silent but Deadly Empire and soon to be Queen of this side. You would do well to begin obeying me now. If you want to live that is.”
Vi nearly snarled. “You will not pass here. Whatever you are makes no difference. Try to move me and you will be stopped. It would be in your best interests to surrender and turn now. I would hate to have to croak a valuable caster.”
Edelbert could feel a pulse of Flower Power building from somewhere. Either Peaches or Mother was nearby and nearly ready to blast someone with Peace. It would happen any moment.
A general order was projected from somewhere in the main hall behind the door. Edelbert felt it but was not the target. “Attack now.”
Several things happened simultaneously. A pulse of FP burst into the room, causing several of the SDE troops to look around with confused smiles on their faces. A Dance beat began. Vi leapt forward quick as lightning, spraying ink all amongst the enemy troops. Elsa waved both of her hands dismissively, one at Vi and the other in a circle around the room.
A jagged icicle formed magically in the air between Vi and Elsa. It blasted forward and caught the daemon square in the chest. The poor lizard collapsed, falling to the ground mid-charge. The Dance music faded. She was incapacitated, Edelbert could see she would need healing before next turn.
Centered on Elsa, a wave of frosty blue light then moved outward into the room. As the light struck units, it would flash freeze them. Many of the Mushroomish units croaked and most of the rest were incapacitated, except his golem who were resistant to cold.
For his part, Edelbert had just enough time to duck back into the hallway from which he had come. With a silent order he told the golem stack to engage the Shockamancer. A wall of stone descended atop the enemy princess but then a blast of sonic erupted forth, severely damaging the already hurt units.
A Shockamancer simply had too much firepower. She would be able to blast anything that got near her until she ran out of Juice. Edelbert had no idea how long that would be. The King waited in the next room, hopefully still surrounded by his elite guard. The Dirtamancer knew he had to do something, an enemy caster, especially a Shockamancer, in the same room as the King could end the side. Then an idea struck him
Seizing his surprise action, he stepped back into the entry-hall. “Pyroken” A small ball of flame shot across the room and struck Elsa clean in the back. Edelbert knew that Shockamancers were resistant to their own discipline but the spell was the spark needed to ignite Vi’s ink. The boosted damage from that explosion, Spore hoped, would be enough to overwhelm Elsa’s resistance.
The enemy Princess screamed as she was engulfed in flames. She spun immediately toward Edelbert and began to cast something, but then Turnip collided hard with her side. They both went down and the Dirtamancer heard a loud crunch. Elsa did not move again.
A dark light began to pulse off Turnip.
Edelbert paid no attention. He dashed across the strangely glowing room to the side of his dear friend Vi. There, sprawled out on the floor lay Vi. Her eyes X’s. Her pearly white form covered in ice and impaled through the torso.
Some part in Edelbert’s mind snapped. Grief overwhelmed him and a darkness descended upon his soul. Against all logic he bent down and cast on his croaked friend “Band-Aid” The Healomancy passed through her corpse without any effect.
Then, in a tinkling voice which the Dirtamancer did not recognize. “Edelbert, she is gone.”
He spun around and faced the source of the voice. There standing in front of him was a giant flower. Long purple and white petals hung from the top of a beige vegetable like form. Large orange eyes peered deep into Edelbert’s. The daemon wore a vest and pants decorated with red Toadie spots.
“Turnip?” Was all Edelbert could manage. His thoughts and emotions were completely overwhelming him at that moment.
“Yes my friend. I am able to use my Language now that I have Changed into my final form. It is good to speak with you finally, but there is still much to do. The enemy threatens to overrun the city. Kernel and the others are still in pitched battle in the streets. The blizzard spell set us back considerably.”
“Has Peaches unleashed the poison cloud spell yet?” Edelbert needed to know, an idea was forming.
“No, Kernel has not sent word.”
Edelbert dashed through the doorway and into the throne-room. “Peaches” He ordered before even seeing her. “Contact Kernel and coordinate using your spell soon. I am implementing a plan and I will need as many corpses as we can make.”
King Arthur stepped forward from within his guard. “What is the meaning of this, caster?”
“Sorry Highness. The enemy sent a Shockamancer to the fight and I intend to fight Naughtymanacy with Naughtymancy. We need more troops and I know where we can get them. I have to hurry though. Thinkshoom!” Edelbert yelled as he once again ordered.
A higher level grey Toadie contacted him immediately. Without words, Edelbert conveyed the intent of his plan and the mushroom responded exactly as it should. There was a sensation of fuzzy noise as the Thinkagram was formed.
Edelbert was thrilled the connection worked, it would save him a great deal of time. “Dee, there is little time. I need your services.”
The gram was more in depth than the lower level greys gave. On the other end the Croakamancer was dressed in scrubs, apparently at the University. “I am on shift Edelbert. What is up?”
“The details are unimportant. If you come to my capital and mass uncroak all the bodies, I will pay you fifteen turns of upkeep. You need to hurry though.”
It was clear that Dee was apprehensive. “That means you are under attack. Beside the fact I am on shift and could lose my internship for leaving. That is a very dangerous contract. I know we are friends Edelbert, but I don’t think I can accept.
“I will pay you thirty turns upkeep and I will spend a whole turn worth of Juice upgrading your home. You can live in luxury.” Edelbert knew this plan was a good one, he just needed to convince her.
“Okay, let me see if I can get off my shift. I will be along as soon as I can.” Dee relented.
“I will meet you in the portal room. Is there anything you will need?”
“At least one corpse that I can interact with. Otherwise, access to your casting room. The tower bonus will make a big difference.” The Croakamancer answered.
“See you soon. Thank you, Dee.” Edelbert ended the call.
Chief Kernel Claypool was beginning to tire of battle for the day. Sure, things had started off invigorating enough. Who wouldn’t be excited by a capital fight, right? But that was a couple of hours ago and he was seeing things a bit differently now.
He had taken three wounds. A Twobat had gotten in a bite, probably due to that Luckamancer’s manipulations. An arrow had caught him in the hip on a swooping maneuver. That one hurt a lot. And just a few rounds earlier, a stabber made contact when its warlord parried Kernel’s strike.
The above ground battle was going poorly. Having a Shockamancer gave the SDE a great deal of firepower that Kernel had not planned for. There had been no sign of this caster in the field. How were the SDE hiding things like that? It made him wonder if they had a Foolamancer. Holes had opened in the battle lines early and a good cluster of troops had made it into the tower. That was unfortunate, but he had his hands full and had continued in the main fight. He had to trust that the defenders in the tower would handle it.
A short while later the familiar buzz of a Thinkagram wiggled its way into his ear. “Hello Kernel, Its Peaches.”
“Yes Princess, I am rather busy.”
“Edelbert has ordered me to use the poison cloud spell, would this be a good time?”
In fact, Kernel had completely forgotten the spell. He had been too preoccupied to ever give the order. It was a serious blunder and he knew it, but there was not time for self-recrimination. “Do it now, Princess.”
The Thinkagram broke. Then the Princess’s voice spoke out over the city “Monsanto”
An order from the King passed among the vulnerable parts of the Mushroomish Army. “Units, take cover indoors, quickly”
That included Kernel, but he understood the intent of the order. Instead he hopped onto a nearby Arrow Frog and leapt into the airspace, above where the cloud was beginning to form.
A thick pink fog began to billow up from the ground. Screams echoed up from the streets. Kernel could feel some few of his units taking damage, but it was far fewer than the agonies he could hear coming from the cloud. Without being able to see, he ordered all golem and Toadie to advance.
The fog lasted a little longer than the expected minute. During that time his soldiers marched largely unopposed against the enemy lines. This gave them opportunity for wholesale slaughter. When the gas cleared the SDE was in a much weaker position. Unfortunately, they still had a good mass of troops left. Kernel knew he could win this battle, but it was already costly and there was more yet to pay.
He touched his Arrow down and stacked with a group of knights that were emerging from a smithy. As he dismounted something moved off to his right. Then something moved near his foot. Suddenly all around him new units arose, his units. The corpses of the dead all stood and began stacking. Their feet shuffled off in the direction of the battle.
This changed the whole rest of the fight. The enemy was now surrounded by what had been their own soldiers just moments before. With a great many disposable troops, Kernel crashed wave after wave of uncroaked against the SDE. The battle ended quickly and with very few additional Mushroomish casualties.
Where did they get a Croakamancer, he wondered as he slaughtered his foe.
“This battle was hard on us” King Arthur began “But the Mushroomish Kingdom has survived.”
The entirety of the remaining leadership on the side was gathered around the table on the Horizon Pavilion. It was far fewer people than had been at the morning meeting.
Arthur continued “We lost eighty percent of our soldiers. Much of what we have left are the troops that were not in the city. Among our many losses were two level 1 warlords, a level two warlord, and a level 4 warlord; Chicharron. We also lost our Dejaymeleon, Trivium. She will remain a significant loss for us for many turns.
Kernel interjected next. “We did have some gains though. After the final tally it seems we defeated the enemy with fifty percent less casualties then they had. We have dealt a significant blow to their side. Replacing a force of that size will take a hundred turns of their full production, minimum. That means we should not fear another attack for some good long time. Not only that but we croaked their Heir and Shockamancer, another crippling blow.”
Turnip was the next to interrupt, which was an odd experience. “Edelbert also managed to capture a Wardirtle. It will take some time because of the treachery of the SDE daemon tribe, but we will be able to turn it. This will solve the mystery of why their daemon defy the code as well as giving us access to the Dirtle chain.”
Edelbert for his part was zoned out. His thoughts were stuck with Vi. Had he done something differently she might still be alive. He just stood there and watched. Maybe he should have attacked? What if he had yelled to distract the Shockamancer? He did not know, but he did feel guilt. Hopefully it would fade with time.
@ Bandaid - There were a few blunders> I wanted to illustrate that the Mushroomish are still young and inexperienced, Except Edelbert, Turnip, and Mother. A) MAgic dominates all of Erfworld. B)It sucks to be a common trooper in real life too
@falcore51 - It is good to have friends and Edelbert likes to be friendly.