A Tale From Traz

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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:59 am

"You're late," Eliza reprimanded.

"I know, I know, but I got held up." Phineas pointed a thumb at the daredevil floating behind him and sat down on a log next to the fire. "I invited him to join us." The princess scoffed and a lot of dirty looks were shot around, but nobody outright objected. He decided to take that as an "okay."

Eliza continued. "Now that you are here, I suppose we can begin to delve into the meat of our situation." She looked from face to face as if trying to figure out where to start.

Phineas was a bit surprised to hear Polly speak up, but when he realized why, the surprise went away. "Aren't we going to wait for Prince... er, King... what should we call him now? Shouldn't we wait for former Prince Chip?"

"He isn't coming," Eliza said briskly. "And for the time being, I suppose Commander Chip will have to suffice. I don't think he will appreciate anyone calling him king right now. Especially when he has no kingdom."

"What is the point of coming up with plans of action without Commander Chip?" Seymour asked. "What if he doesn't like what we come up with?"

Eliza put a hand to her forehead, obviously overwhelmed with the situation. Phineas couldn't blame her, seeing as how with Chip refusing to cooperate at the moment, she was left with the weight of their column on her shoulders. He decided to try and take some of that burden off for her.

Phineas stood up as he spoke. "Because, Seymour, the world doesn't stop just because Chip isn't here. We still need to figure out what we are going to do even if Chip decides to stay in his tent until he can't pay his own upkeep. When we have a few options that we think can work, we take the best ones to Chip and recommend them. Right, princess?"

"Yeah, pretty much," Eliza responded, looking slightly less drained now that she had Phineas's support. "The most pressing issue is upkeep. However, it is also the issue that we will need to hold off on until near the end. Our other decisions could have a great effect on how our resources are divvied up. All of us still have full purses, correct?" She looked among the warlords and casters and they all nodded. "Good. That should support us and a select handful of units until we are able to reach The Red Barron and negotiate merc contracts. Our two nearby cities reverted to him when they went neutral, but the king himself would still be at least as far away as Domino."

"Hold on just a minute there!" Phineas looked behind himself and upwards with wide eyes to see the face that matched the voice. Bub was floating there with his arms crossed defiantly. "You are just going to let Ponchovilla get away with sacking our kingdom? We are going to run away with our tails between our legs?"

"Watch it... you." Eliza glared at the daredevil. "I'm barely tolerating you as it is. But no, we aren't running away. We are preserving our forces and ensuring that we can survive long enough to see Ponchovilla fall."

"Ahem, Eliza?" Phineas raised his hand slightly before continuing to speak. "Bub kinda has a point. We were headed toward their capital just a few hours ago. Why is it that we don't continue?"

"That was... that was different. We had a kingdom then. Chip and I hoped that, if by some titanic gift, we could defeat their city, then their forces at our capital would fail. Maybe even disband. But if we go in there now, we would just be throwing our lives away."

"If we retreat now, Ponchovilla will only grow stronger. We go forward." Phineas looked behind himself to see who was talking once again, but this time it wasn't Bub. It was Chip. He looked even more worn down than Eliza. The fall of his father had really taken its toll.

"Chip!" Eliza exclaimed. "I didn't think you would be joining us."

"Neither did I, to be honest. But then I glanced over here through the entrance of my tent and saw the daredevil participating. That's when I knew I couldn't afford to sit around and mope. If you listen to even one of his suggestions, we'll probably all end up croaked by the end of next turn."

"Actually, boss," Bub said, "I was suggesting the same thing as you. That we go forward now."

Chip looked momentarily surprised, like he had been caught with his pants down, but the expression quickly turned into a smile. "I stand by my statement." The joke was a bit gloomy, but people still laughed.

"You are positive that you want to go forward with an attack?" Eliza asked.

Chip nodded. "Even if we can't take the city, we can still try to take their queen. That vile woman. She has no right to wear her crown."

Eliza still looked unsure but said, "Alright. Then we have a lot of work ahead of us. We should try to have a solid plan in place before the start of our next turn. And as unallied barbarians, that should happen at dawn."

"Where do we even begin?" Seymour asked.

"We start by assessing our assets," Chip said. "McFeely, what units are in our hex?"

The warlord looked surprised to be called upon, but gave a speedy delivery. "Counting the six remaining hermits? We have one barbarian ruler, making everyone else barbarians as well. Which includes five warlords, one Carnymancer, one Florist, one Dollamancer, four mothras, three imps, one daredevil, two tidal boars, one sourmander, one sea dog, one croc, 47 infantry, some of them knights, 18 kelpies, seven topiaries of varying forms, twelve cloth golems of varying forms, eight dolls, 14 scarecrows. That is a total of 134 units. Allied with us, 128 units. Of the allied units, eight are fliers, 22 water-capable units, 60 thinking units, 69 living units, 59 caster-created units, 40 mountable units, ten units with leadership, 56 units that-"

Chip held up a hand. "Good enough, McFeely. Thank you. What other assets do we have? Magic items?"

"I still have my flippers," Chu said.

"And I have my sword. Although it is an artifact, not a magic item."

"When did you... "Chip started. "Nevermind. What does it do?"

"It copies up to one spell a day, basically. The first spell it is exposed to."

Chip raised an eyebrow. "Ah, a caster artifact. Anything else?"

Polly spoke up, her cheeks already red. "I still have two scrolls. Findamancy and Moneymancy. They were supposed to help with Princess Eliza's recovery, but we didn't need them."

"Can we use the Moneymancy scroll for upkeep?" Chip asked.

Polly shook her head. "I got it in case we needed to take Domino in order to get back the princess. It was to help with city building or repairs. The Findamancy scroll was in case we needed to pinpoint Eliza's location."

"That is..." Phineas thought Chip was about to say something insensitive like he usually did, but surprisingly he didn't. "That is probably not going to be very useful, but I'm no caster." Phineas's jaw practically fell to the floor. "Do we have any other magic items," Chip continued.

"The mirror," Seymour added. "The Lookamancy mirror is a magic item."

"Yeah, but what good is it now?" Chip pulled it out of his pocket and held it in his hand.

Bub lowered himself from up above, straight down next to Chip. The daredevil had his signature mischievous smile on his face. "Oh ho ho. That is good for all kinds of things." He held out a palm. "May I?"
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Wed Oct 20, 2010 4:13 am

Phineas watched as Bub brought the mirror to a far corner of the hex and everyone followed him. Nobody wanted to miss out on what he was planning because nobody knew what his plan was. When Bub reached the hex corner, he proceeded to rip his clothing, ruffled his hair, and even smeared dirt across the side of his face and punched one of his own eyes. It looked like he had just been in a brawl. "I need everyone to be quiet," the daredevil finally said aloud. "And no peeking."

"Everyone, silence!" Chip yelled. The entire hex fell into deafening silence. Only the the crackling of fires and the buzzing of bees could be heard.

"I'm serious, no peeking. Not even you. This is a very delicate operation." Phineas could tell Bub was enjoying this way too much despite having just lost an engagement to himself.

Chip groaned but otherwise remained silent as Bub turned his back to the corner of the hex. Now he was facing all the commanders, but the mirror was facing the adjacent hexes. Only Bub's face would appear to anyone who happened to be on the receiving end.

"Watch and learn." After a moment of apparent contemplation, Bub activated the mirror. "Mirror, mirror, before my face, show me the enemy in our space."

Phineas couldn't see what was going on, but he could hear. He could hear a concerned voice coming from the mirror. The voice of a Ponchovillan unit who had just helped to finish conquer their kingdom. "Someone go find the commander! The item in here is active!"

"Yes, yes, a commander would be good," Bub said with expert sincerity. "I hope to figure out what this curious little bauble is that my enemy dropped. Although it seems I may have destroyed some of your forces inadvertently to get it."

"I... I think you should wait for the commander," the voice from the other side said. Bub nodded his compliance.

It would have been a lie if Phineas claimed he knew what Bub was trying to do. He had a strong urge to ask, but remained silent as requested. Apparently Bub was making up a story about how he came into possession of the mirror, but it was still unclear why such a story was necessary.

"The commander, I presume?" Bub said after several minutes of waiting.

"Commander Neard, actually. What is the meaning of this sorcery?" The gruff yet feminine voice sounded like she wasn't interested in playing around.

"What, you don't know? I would like to know that myself, actually. My fellow barbarians and I engaged a small stack of units today. Their warlord dropped this item. I only just figured out how to get it to do something. Does this mean you don't know what this item is meant to do?"

"Obviously it is used for communication, but other than that I do not know. We only recently came to own this particular magic item. Although we have three similar ones from other cities we have captured. The first of five cities did not have one, so you must have found it." The commander sounded as if there was no doubt in her voice.

"The first of five?" Bub asked in mock ignorance.

"Our battle plans are none of your concern."

"Ah, yes, understood. I suppose you wouldn't mind having the full set. Could a reward be arranged for its safe return? Upkeep is hard to come by when you have no purse."

"Unlikely. The units who had that item were likely more than two thousand hexes away from their cities. Heh, the fools. They left their capital ripe for the taking."

Without missing a beat, Bub asked, "Well, I'm within a turn's flight of Ponchovilla. Do you know if that is near or far from their capital? Or, their former capital, as it would seem."

"Ponchovilla?" Commander Neard sounded shocked. "Those... those weasels! They were going for our capital this whole time? How dare they!"

"Your capital? Well, they didn't succeed. I saw to that. Not much of a force for taking a city with though. The thousands of hexes worth of travel must not have been kind to them." Bub acted as if he just thought of something marvelous. "But hey, if I'm near your capital..."

"Ah, yes! Then you can deliver that item you found! It would make communication much easier. Then I would be able to receive information, rather than merely send it. When our Findamancer gathers my reports at the end of our turn, I will include a note about you."

"Just make sure me and my stack don't get shot down when I go to your city," Bub said with a wink. "I don't want this item taken from me the same way it was taken from its last owner."

"But of course."

Bub closed the mirror and tossed it back to Chip. "Not so useless after all, eh?"

Phineas wasn't sure if Bub was referring to the mirror or himself.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:53 am

"Are you sure this will work?"

"Almost certainly not," Phineas replied to Vladmir, Traz's former regent warlord of Adziogol. It seemed like so long ago that the man had greeted Phineas after he rode in to the city on his newly tamed croc. Vladmir, Phineas, and even that croc had made it this far from their homeland, and were now about to risk it all on little more than a fool's gamble.

Phineas, on the sourmander, Vladmir, on the croc, and Bub flying overhead, all approached Ponchovilla's main gates. It was located on a river, like Chu had claimed, but only just barely. The river's mouth could be spotted only a few hexes away, and the open ocean beyond that.

The city itself was pretty grandiose. Much more luxurious than the side's boarder cities. It was a nice level four, consisting mostly of a defensible harbor. But there was a narrow walkway that allowed land-based units to cross over to the city's garrison. The garrison itself was located on a small island in the middle of the river. It had an extremely small courtyard, but it made up for it with its tower. The thing was huge! It had tiered roofs of ceramic tile, and stone walls of brown hues. At the top was a beautiful gazebo-like structure with white columns and a circular roof. From there you could station stacks of archers, cast spells, or even mount fliers.

Phineas scanned the sky. Duke Chu also seemed to be right about the fliers. All they had were duckies. And not a lot of them. But Chu also warned that just because there weren't many fliers, it didn't mean their air defenses were weak. Ponchovilla had archers and ships that could shoot down most things. Not to mention a Shockmancer who was usually stationed at the capital. They also had a Findamancer and a Signamancer, but other than casting from scrolls, they probably wouldn't be much of a threat.

Horns sounded as the five units closed the distance to the entrance of the city. The large gates opened a crack and four columns of infantrymen rushed to the hex boarder to greet them. With their weapons drawn.

"This is no way to greet a guest," Bub said as he landed and approached the boarder himself.

A warlord stepped through the crowd, wearing a waterproof cloth that covered his head and shoulders. It seemed to be official royal garb as it had Ponchovilla's imperial seal stamped upon it. "I apologize," he said with absolutely no sincerity. "It is just that my queen does not wish to take any chances. If you would be so kind as to enter the city without your mounts, I would be much obliged."

It was a smart move, and not totally unexpected. Phineas wouldn't be surprised if they tried to split up their small force even more before they met the queen. The caster and the warlord got off of their mounts and followed Bub across the hex boarder and into the city. The infantrymen kept a respectable distance, but the weapons pointed at their throats were still too close for Phineas's tastes. If he so much as looked like he was casting a spell, his head would be rolling.

As they marched in precession toward the garrison, Phineas looked around. To either side of him, along the walkway, were froggers with riders mounted atop them. Beyond those, in the water, enormous galleons were patrolling the waters. Head to head, there was no doubt they would wipe the floor against Traz's forces. However, as far as capitals went, this one seemed pretty sparsely defended. Ponchovilla was spread thin.

"Where will we meet Queen Chevron?" Phineas asked the warlord who was leading them to the tower.

The warlord narrowed his eyes at the Carnymancer. "In the throne room, of course. How did you know her name, if you don't mind my asking?"

"Oh, we've spoken before," Phineas replied nonchalantly.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Thu Nov 04, 2010 2:32 am

Their escorts continued to guide them through the city under heavy guard. Not that there was even a remote chance that they could get lost. It was a straight shot all the way to the courtyard. Still, there was no way the three of them would be left alone to wander the city. Not as unknown barbarians, and definitely not after Phineas had raised the nearby warlord's suspicions.

But it was okay. If events went as planned, they would end up in the same location either way.

The four Ponchovillan stacks led them across the courtyard and to the tower entrance. Two stacks entered, Phineas's group followed, then two stacks brought up the rear. They walked down a couple lavishly decorated hallways until they stopped in front of a grand doorway. The doors opened to reveal a small chamber with eight knights lining the walls, and another set of closed doors on the other side. Everyone crammed inside of that small room and the doors closed behind them. After what seemed like forever, the other set of doors finally opened and the three of them were marched into Queen Chevron's throne room.

The room itself was quite a spectacle. It was spacious, but the ceiling was low enough that it didn't feel too big. The other units in the room helped in that respect as well. The queen's throne was situated so that it faced the back side of the tower. Which wouldn't really matter except that the back side of the tower had a great view of the river flowing past Ponchovilla. White columns rose from the floor to the ceiling, but other than that the only obstructions to your view were the ships floating out on the water.

Phineas would have liked to spend more time taking in the sights, but unfortunately there were more pressing matters at hand. They were led to a spot about twenty paces from Queen Chevron's throne and ordered to kneel on the ground with their heads bowed toward the empty seat. Phineas, Bub, and Vladmir all complied without hesitation.

The sound of vuvuzelas rang in Phineas's ear as the queen's presence was announced. Without looking up from his kneeling position, he noticed everyone in the room stood at attention even more stiffly than before. As the horns died down, a woman in an extravagant gown could be heard approaching. "Welcome," she said. The voice sounded almost identical to one in his memory from back when he sent her a thinkagram. Only this time she was expecting to hold a conversation and not caught unprepared.

"This is it," Vladmir murmured. "This is her." The warlord didn't have to go into any more detail. The Carnymancer knew what he meant. This was the woman responsible for the downfall of their side. The woman who set them against their own princess. The woman who had extinguished the lives of almost all of Traz's units.

The woman they needed to croak.

"It has been a long time since we have had company," the queen said when she stood before them. Just a few more steps and she would be within striking distance. "I don't suppose the three of you are accustom to royal etiquette? Quite an odd barbarian group you are..."

Despite her seeming willingness to forego the royal traditions, she continued to proceed with them. In this instance, she stepped forward and presented her hand to Bub. Of course, Phineas could barely see this out of the corner of his eyes since his head was still bowed toward the floor, but he could see enough to know that Bub was hesitating.

"Just a quick kiss of the ring will do," the queen said, unashamed. Bub took another moment, but then the queen stepped sideways toward Phineas, so he assumed the daredevil had done his part.

Now that it was Phineas's turn, the simple gesture seemed about as easy as getting a cloth golem to recite poetry. Even so, he found himself reaching out to grab her hand and tilting his head so that his lips would reach metal. Two seconds and it was done.

And a two second glance was all it took to get a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. She looked like the queen he had seen in the thinkagram, but "like" was about as close of a comparison as he could allow. Not only that, but her stats didn't seem quite suitable for a royal ruler.

But even as the realization formed in his mind, he knew it was too late. Beside him he heard the roar of Vladmir's unstoppable battle cry.

"Fatality!"
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:44 am

In the span of a second, Vladmir's sword swung in a forward arc and three spears pierced Vladmir's armor. In the next second the warlord was pinned to the ground and Phineas and Bub had spears pointed at their throats.

In the third second the queen's head hit the ground, followed by the detached body.

The entire room was silent, save for the pained groans coming from Vladmir on the floor. However, it wasn't long before the silence was broken by the sound of slow clapping. The curtains behind the throne rustled and a woman stepped out. She was dressed in an elegant gown much like the croaked queen had been wearing, and her face looked much the same as well. In fact, at a glance they looked practically identical. But this woman looked more regal. She held herself with better stature, more elegance, a stronger purpose. Not to mention she had a more prominent mustache as well.

The true queen deftly gestured for two infantrymen to perform some action and they rushed over to disarm the small Traz stack. They were now prisoners. "Congratulations, barbarians. You have croaked the ruler of Ponchovilla." She put a finger to her mouth in mock thoughtfulness. "Well, maybe not quite."

"D-disband you," Vladmir sputtered.

"Queen Chevron, I presume?" Phineas asked, despite the spear tip next to his jugular.

"Ah, yes. You are that caster that sent me the thinkagram. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that your prince down there," she pointed to Vladmir, "chose you as one of his final three. A high-level caster and a powerful daredevil were smart choices for an assassination attempt. But now, Prince, or whatever you were when your side fell, your plan has failed an the tables have turned." Queen Chevron turned around and started walking to her throne. Without looking back she gave her order. "Finish him!"

With a squelch, the spearmen pulled out their weapons and reinserted them one last time. Phineas cringed as Vladmir let out his final breath.

The Carnymancer's mind didn't want to focus at the moment, not with the demise of Vladmir so fresh in his thoughts, but there was still work to be done. Orders to be carried out. Their primary plan had failed, and so now they had to move on to one of their much less savory contingency plans.

With moistened eyes, Phineas looked to the throned queen and forced himself to ask, "How did you deceive us so? That was no Foolamancy we just witnessed. And more importantly, what will you do with us now? Croak us too?"

"Ha!" the queen burst. "Croak you? Not likely. I intend to make you mine. The daredevil's fate, however, is less clear. We haven't had the best luck with casters. What you witnessed was the handiwork of our Signamancer. It was one of the first times we have actually gotten some use out of him."

"Signamancy?" Bub asked, unflustered by his implied impending doom. "That was Signamancy?"

"All signs pointed to that courtier being the queen, did they not? If he had more juice I'm sure Lord Ross would have made her even more convincing. I was hoping you would only wound her if you did turn out to be Traz units as I suspected, but alas it was not to be. Now I have only two courtiers left." Queen Chevron craned her neck back and yelled some orders. "Vandyke, Dalí, your presence is requested." Turning back to Phineas and Bub she said, "I believe you have met before?"

The two courtiers immediately entered the throne room as if they had been waiting for an excuse. They still moved with their exaggerated grace and still wore their dull golden robes that they had on back in Stashburns. Although, their hats and sashes were much more ornate this time. The courtiers each took a standing position on either side of their queen and gave a bow in greeting.

"Welcome to the towering villa of Ponchovilla."
"Welcome to the towering villa of Ponchovilla."

Their synchronized speech was as disturbing as ever. And considering the situation, their message was almost enough to make Phineas sick.

"Keep your words to yourselves, you slimy deceivers," Phineas spat.

It looked as if Vandyke was about to retort, but then he went wide-eyed. He leaned in close to he queen and whispered something while pointing toward Vladmir's remains. Queen Chevron went wide-eyed in turn.

To Phineas the queen said, "It seems they are not the only deceivers in our midsts."
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Sun Nov 28, 2010 4:42 am

"Where is the prince?" Queen Chevron demanded furiously, standing up from her throne.

With a poorly concealed smirk, Phineas replied. "You croaked him, a few turns ago when we attacked a group of froggers and duckies."

"Lies!" The queen stood up and began stomping in Phineas's direction. Her large gown ruffled loudly behind her. "If your prince was already croaked, you would have disbanded when your kingdom fell. Where is he?"

By now Queen Chevron was standing right in front of him, breathing her oily breath sternly into the Carnymancer's face. Phineas knew she wouldn't believe any answers he made up and so decided not to even attempt a believable excuse. "Maybe King Alec promoted an heir right before he croaked?" The queen glared deep into Phineas's eyes, only inches away. They exchanged eye-daggers for several seconds in silence until Phineas finally couldn't take it any more. He breathed a small puff of flame into the queen's face.

Bub burst into laugher nearby as the Ponchovillan ruler stepped back in surprise, wiping the soot from her eyes and extinguishing the cinders in her mustache. The weapons pointed at Phineas's throat were moved even closer, if that were possible. However, he was only disappointed he couldn't do more without casting an actual spell, which was impossible under the circumstances.

"You fools!" Chevron scolded her guards. "I ought to disband the lot of you." The guard standing to Phineas's immediate right popped out of existence. "Let that be a lesson to the rest of you. Now someone take his place."

A lump formed at the back of Phineas's throat. He had never actually seen anyone get disbanded by their ruler before. He had heard threats, many times, but had never actually known it to happen. He tried not to dwell on the fact that he had caused it to happen. In fact, it would probably be in his best interests to try and get it to happen again. Not that it was a goal he planned on striving for.

"Vandyke," Queen Chevron ordered, still trying to wipe her face clear of soot. "I want you to go fetch Whitebeard. Dalí, you better go fetch Smith, just in case either of these two give us more trouble. Meet us at the top of the tower. We have a bit of Findamancy to do."
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Sun Dec 12, 2010 5:31 am

Phineas and Bub had their guard detail reinforced before Queen Chevron lead a procession through the garrison tower. The queen marched at the front, followed by the warlords carrying the equipment that had been confiscated, and finally, the prisoners and their escorts. There must have been an alternate rout for scaling the tower, because by the time they reached the crest of the staircases and broke into the daylight beyond, the two courtiers and what must have been two of Ponchovilla's casters were already there waiting. They all bowed their heads as Queen Chevron approached.

The queen, however, seemed to take little notice and walked directly to the edge of the tower rail. There she leaned against the edge and looked out over the scenery. "Lady Smith," she said to the female caster, "watch the prisoners and Shock them if they try anything. Everyone who isn't a commander, back to your posts." All but the casters and two warlords exited the top of the tower.

The queen continued to look out over the scenery for a while longer until she finally wiggled a finger back at the wizard, Whitebeard, motioning for him to approach. "You require my assistance, my queen?" he asked as he stepped near, cautiously. The Signamancy of his name was apparent. The Findamancer had a white beard so lengthy that he had to drape it over his shoulders to avoid dragging it across the ground.

"You see those prisoners?" Queen Chevron asked. "The heir to their kingdom is out there, somewhere, in the nearby hexes. Work your magic. Tell me where."

"I think I can do that for you, your majesty." Whitebeard pulled back the sleeves of his red robes and straightened out his limp blue hat. The Findamancer closed his eyes and began spinning in place. He extended an arm and pointed outward. "Crombie." As the spell was spoken, his finger began to glow. When it was pointed in the direction of Ponchovilla's main gate, Whitebeared stopped spinning and a blue beam of light shot forth. "He is in that direction."

Unsurprisingly, the caster was correct. However, the Findamancer was not finished. He again raised an arm and held his palm flat, facing in the same direction. "Proxemic." A burst of orange light erupted outward and consolidated into a steady, pulsating ray. Whitebeard clenched his hand into a fist and the pulsating stopped. "He is three hexes beyond the main gate. Hidden from view in the bog."

"Congratulations," Phineas said sourly. "You know where are forces are now, but it still isn't your turn."

"Not yet, no," the queen replied. "But I suspect that will change soon enough. Once he realizes you have failed, he will have no reason to continue the turn. Don't you realize it yet? Your side is finished. There is nothing you can do."

Bub rolled his eyes. "Pfft. You can always do something, lady. Even if it is as simple as calling the queen who captured you an Uncraoked Turd. Not that I would ever do such a thing, mind you."

Queen Chevron Squinted her eyes at Bub. She was about to speak, but then Whitebeard pointed out onto the horizon. "It seems they are trying something after all, my queen."

It was true, there was movement out there now. Three mothras had risen up from the treetops and were pulling into formation. The Findamancer's spell had acted as a signal. Seeing a spell cast in the city would be a good indicator that Vladmir, Phineas, and Bub had failed.

"What? Are they going to come and beg for you back?" the Ponchovillan queen asked. "This ought to be good."
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Wed Mar 02, 2011 4:42 am

Phineas would have smirked at the queen's naïvety, but the situation was still dire. Traz's transient army was not coming to offer negotiations for his return. They had already given him up for croaked. No, they were coming for the final showdown.

"You two," Queen Chevron addressed the two warlords who were still on top of the tower. "One of you go lead half the archers out to the gatehouse walls. Don't attack until given the signal. The other, escort me to one of the lower tiers. There we will await parlay among the rest of the archers. Casters, keep an eye on the prisoners here and don't engage unless the enemy does first. And if they do, show no mercy." With that the queen lead the way down the tower stairs and Phineas and Bub were left in the company of Ponchovilla's Findamancer and Shockmancer.

"What do we do now?" Phineas asked Bub.

"Watch and wait, I suppose. And croak these two if you get the chance."

"Shut up," the Shockmancer said flatly. She was gorgeous but in an untouchable sort of way. "Sit quietly or I'll make you be quiet." She held up a fist. "Incapacitation isn't fun, I'm told. Just relax and watch as the last of your side evaporates before you."

Phineas glared at her but complied. Bub seemed more amused than anything, but he held his tongue as well. It wasn't long before the mothras in the distance carried their riders to the hex boundary, just outside the city, each followed by an imp. At this distance Phineas couldn't even make out the commanders' faces, but he still recognized the forms of Wally, McFeely, and Princess Eliza. They looked formidable in their own right, but there is no way they could hope to win here. Not with all of Ponchovilla's air defenses. They would almost have better luck trying to fight their way in on the ground.

"Why do they hover so?" Whitebeard mused. "Why do they not signal for parlay?"

"They're probably afraid," Lady Smith surmised. "Can you blame them? As soon as they enter the city they are as good as gone and they know it."

This time Phineas did smirk at their naïvety. Sure, the casters were probably right, but they didn't know the whole picture. And that picture was marching out of the bog and into view at this very moment.

"What on Erf!" the look on the casters' faces was priceless. A stack of topiaries marched out of the bog, lead by Seymour Bouté the Florist. And next to it was a small battalion of cloth golems lead by Duke Chu Fuman. They both directed their forces immediately toward Ponchovilla's main gate. At the same time Eliza signaled for her forces to engage the units on the gatehouse wall. Somewhere down below, on one of the lower tiers of the tower, Phineas heard the queen shriek with rage.

"This should not be possible," Whitebeard tried to reassure himself. "A barbarian should not be able to support this many units. Upkeep must be paid. Even if your heir was level 20 he could not hope to sustain this number."

"Sustain? No." Phineas wasn't sure he should speak up, but at least he would be drawing the casters' attention away from the battle for a moment. "Commander Chip could never sustain this number."

"Then why are there so many units knocking at our gate?" Lady Smith asked.

"Because their upkeep isn't being paid by Commander Chip. Not most of them anyway." Phineas smiled at the confused look on their faces. "When we left Donegal, every commander in our column had a full purse, and nobody spent a single shmucker before we became barbarians. And as barbarians, a commander pays the upkeep of all units in his or her stack. So instead of having Chip pay for everyone's upkeep, we split the cost."

Whitebeard seemed to accept that explanation, but still wasn't satisfied. "Even so, how do you expect to support all the units we see?"

"We don't, Pale-'stache," Bub interrupted. "Weren't you listening? We spent it all!"

Phineas nodded. Their side would not last another turn. But still, by draining the purses of one ruler, five warlords, and three casters, they were able to give a surprising number of units one more turn of existence. They had to disband their dolls and scarecrows, and the hermits opted not to join them in this fight, but very few other units had needed to be sacrificed.

"So..." the Shockmancer seemed to be forming a thought. "What you are saying is that since this is your side's last turn to exist, even as barbarians, this isn't an attempt to defeat us or fall back. It is a campaign to defeat us or croak trying?" Phineas had said too much after all. "The queen should know this. Lord Whitebeard, watch them until I return."

Lady Smith started toward the tower steps, but to Phineas's surprise, Bub hopped in front of her, arms and legs still bound by rope. "I'm afraid I can't let you do that."

"Out of my way prisoner. Or I'll cook you like an overdone omelette." She held up a fist to threaten him, but Bub didn't move. "Fine. The queen was going to croak you anyway. Taranee!" At the invocation of her spell, the Shockmancer's fist burst into flame and she punched Bub in the side of the face. He toppled over, enveloped in tongues of fire.

Lady Smith turned her gaze toward Phineas. "You going to try and stop me too, Carnymancer?"

He stared in her direction, but his focus was not on her face. It was on the figure rising from the floor behind her.

"Anna, behind you!" Whitebeard shouted. She turned around but it was too late. Bub snapped the now-charcoal ropes around his wrists and clasped his hands over her ears. White lightning arced between his fingertips, the Shockmancer cried out in agony, then slumped to the floor.

"Immunity to Shockmancy, witch."
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Thu Mar 24, 2011 4:14 am

Both Whitebeard and Phineas, still bound in his own ropes, stood agape almost as if they had been hit with Shockmancy themselves. However, it was only a moment before both casters looked up from Lady Smith's body. The Findamancer raised his arms toward Bub in preparation of a spell, but before any words could escape the man's mouth, Phineas threw all his weight into the him. Whitebeared teetered backward and windmilled his arms as his red robes disappeared over the tower wall, his long beard trailing behind him.

"Heh, I'm impressed." Phineas looked up from where he was now laying helpless on the floor to see Bub smiling down at him. "You weren't expecting us to croak two casters when you woke up this morning, were you?"

"Would you hurry up and untie me? The wizard might not have actually croaked. The tower is tiered, remember? And his falling body would certainly send up an alert." Even now Phineas could hear voices down below bellowing orders. Bub grabbed Phineas's sword from the pile of confiscated equipment and quickly cut the Carnymancer free. The caster hardly had time to contemplate the psychedelic patterning that had appeared on the artifact before giving Bub his next orders. "Quickly, grab any crates or barrels and stack them in front of the door at the bottom of the stairs. It will buy us some time."

They both rushed feverishly, moving the containers from around tower walls, knowing full well that it would only take Ponchovilla a few moments to organize a force to come after them. They barely had enough material to cover the tower entrance with a single layer of containers before Phineas could see units through the cracks marching toward them. Just as the nearest unit was reaching out to topple their flimsy barricade, Phineas called out "Gaff!" Their rickety makeshift wall became rigid and their pursuers crashed into it as if it were made of stone.

"Now that's a dirty trick if I ever saw one," Bub quipped.

"Get over it." Phineas was in no mood for banter. "We still gotta get off or conquer this tower before they break through. Eliza's stack can't approach to aid us until the air defenses are weakened. With the duckies, archers, ships, not to mention all the Shockmancy that is probably still stored in the tower... She might as well disband herself rather than cross into this city."

"Can't you use Ponchovilla's own Shockmancy against them?"

"I wish, but it isn't that simple. You, on the other hand..." Just then a trumpet sounded. Phineas turned his gaze toward the city's entrance and sure enough, their ground forces had broken through the main gate. "This could be good." Obviously it was beneficial for them that they managed to break into the city, but that wasn't what Phineas meant. Getting through the outer walls was the signal for their second and final wave to strike.

Phineas rushed to the side of the tower and pointed. "Look, there she is." The Carnymancer was not pointing south toward Ponchovilla's main gate, but east toward the mouth of the river. There he could just barely make out the form of Polly, mounted on a tidal boar, surging up the river. Close behind her was Chip, wearing flippers and leading the kelpies. Their task was to flank the ships, which were currently directing their attention at the bridge leading to the garrison.

It was actually Polly who got credit for this part of the plan. She was the one who pointed out that creating a doll from some of the boards in a ship's hull would both give them another unit to attack with and leave a nasty hole. The trick would be to get close enough without getting croaked first.

He turned his attention back toward the main gate just in time to see Eliza, McFeely, and Wally fly into the city on their mothras, imps in tow. They must have figured it was safe enough for them to help pick off the last of the infantry on the outer walls.

They were wrong.

In a matter of moments a volley of arrows was flying in Eliza's stack's direction. A volley of arrows from the garrison tower. And each arrow followed an unnaturally straight path and embedded themselves into Wally's body.

"Impossible!" Phineas exclaimed. It was highly unlikely that an arrow would make it that far, much less find it's target. The Carnymancer rushed to the tower edge where the arrows had been shot from and looked down. Sure enough, there on a lower tier was a battered and bruised Findamancer preparing a stack of archers for another salvo.

Phineas pulled back from the edge of the tower and shot Bub a look that would demonstrate the commitment of his next words. "You're going down."

"Excuse me?" he asked with raised eyebrows.

Another volley of arrows were loosed and were making a speedy delivery straight toward McFeely. "You, engage the Findamancer. Now! That is an order." Phineas said it with such conviction that Bub didn't even pause before flying out and over the edge. A split second later a concussive Shazam! rattled the entire tower, knocking Phineas to the floor.

He quickly got back to his feet and risked a peek over the ledge once more. He was just in time to see an entire tier of Ponchovilla's western garrison crumble into the water below, destroyed by their own automated Shockmancy defenses. An arrow-filled Bub was its only occupant. There was no sign of Whitebeard, or any of the archers left anywhere in sight. They had been obliterated.

Phineas's eyes threatened to well up, but he didn't have the time to dwell on his thoughts. Apparently that stunt had caught some attention. Every ducky in the airspace was now headed straight toward him.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Sat Apr 02, 2011 2:53 am

Phineas managed to get off two good hits with his magic before the duckies reached him. His two blasts sent many of the duckies rolling through the air, stunned and incapacitated. An unlucky few would land on hard ground, but Phineas knew most would land in water, where they would probably bob around harmlessly as if part of some pointless game.

Still, many more reached the tower top. When he had entered the city, the little yellow critters looked like they were so few in number. But flapping their stubby little wings all around him, squacking in his ears and nipping at his clothes, they threatened to overwhelm the lone caster.

"Hiya! Ah! Watch it! Take that!" Phineas sliced his weapon through the air, cutting through soft down and rubbery flesh. With one quick exchange he even broke a bill into four quarters, but it was ultimately a losing battle. As great as being a Carnymancer may be, a Carnymancer is still a caster. And as such his Hits, Combat, and Defense were less than superb.

Four hits left... Now three... As the thoughts ran through his head Phineas began to get nervous. And just when he thought his situation couldn't get more dire, Phineas's heard a crumble on the steps. The rig had failed and Ponchovilla's troops were coming to claim their prize. Two hits left. Time to bail. Phineas made a dash for the tower's edge and lunged into the open air.

The first thing Phineas noticed as he left the comfort of a well anchored structure behind him was that there were no archers below him. As it so happened, he had exited the tower the same direction Bub had. This also meant that the only place for him to land was far, far below. But he wasn't alone. The duckies were still struggling to fulfill their orders and croak him, flapping madly as they trailed his decent. As the Erf began to pull the caster toward itself with increasing force, Phineas took in all the sights displayed before him. After all, it was the last thing he would ever have the privilege of seeing.

On the bridge were the bodies of froggers, topiaries, cloth golems and men. The few survivors were still locked in combat at Ponchovilla's courtyard walls. If Traz's forces won they would still have to fight through a few strong stacks of infantry in the tiny courtyard, but only if the ships in the harbor didn't croak them before they could break through the gate.

The ships themselves were still under attack by Traz's water capable units. Several were taking on multitudes of water and several others were battling boars and kelpies on deck. In a fair fight Ponchovilla would have certainly won the water battle, but they had been flanked and caught off guard. It probably also helped that the imps were buzzing around the masts setting things on fire. Which led Phineas to his final thought.

Where is Eli- WHUMPH!

Phineas's head spun and for a moment he thought he had splashed down, but this surface was too hard and too dry for that to be true. "You looked like you could use some lessons on flying," a female voice said. He raised his head to see Princess Eliza scanning the air around them, still in full battle mode. "I figured I'd give you some pointers."

Phineas couldn't do anything but smile as he lay splayed cross her mothra's back.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Tue Apr 05, 2011 2:42 am

After Phineas got himself properly situated behind Princess Eliza, she guided the mothra out over the water far from the tower. There she dispatched the remaining duckies with little effort and proceeded to make a wide circle around the garrison tower. From here it would be easier to see and avoid any incoming arrows. Cannon balls from the ships would be more difficult, but the ship crews seemed preoccupied at the moment.

"So what kind of intel did you gather in the tower?" Eliza asked as easily as if she were asking him where he got his outfit.

"What kind of information are you looking for?" Phineas asked as they dipped down sharply to avoid an arrow.

Eliza sighed impatiently. "How many units they got in there? What kind? Did they talk about strategy? Where is their queen? Do they got any items we should watch out for? Stuff like that."

"Oh." He searched his brain for the answers she wanted. "Two of her casters croaked, but she still has a Signamancer. Supposedly he's out of juice though. I think there is at least one warlord who wasn't sent to the outer walls, but I don't know where he is. Same with the queen or her two courtiers. They might have magic items, but I didn't spot any obvious ones. As for their other garrison units, I think you can see most of them shooting from the balconies and standing in the courtyard."

"So the tower interior is empty?" she asked, scratching her chin.

"There might be a few guards, but yeah, I think so."

"How are you doing on juice?"

Phineas didn't like where this was headed. "I'm nearly depleted..."

"And your hits are abysmal." The princess hesitated for only a moment before steering the mothra back toward the tower. They immediately began picking up speed. "I guess it sucks to be you right now. Try not to croak." Even with the wind rushing past his ears, Eliza's words were painfully clear. Her intent more so. They were going to attack the tower. A single warlord and a damaged Carnymancer.

They approached the tower from the side of the missing balcony to try and avoid most of the archers. Even so, arrows whizzed by, threatening to halt their approach. The mothra absorbed a few hits with its wings and Eliza took an arrow to the shin, but she didn't so much as wince. She couldn't afford to.

The closer they got the more it became apparent they weren't aiming for the top of the tower. They were aiming for the hole that had been blasted into the foundation from the Shockmancy traps. And the closer they got, the smaller that hole looked. Almost cheerfully, Elza yelled, "It's gonna be a bumpy landing!" At the last second the mothra folded its wings in, shot through the opening, then spread them again. The room was small and had a low ceiling, so they didn't slow down much before connecting with the far wall, but it was enough to save the two commanders from serious injury. The mothra, on the other hand, was pretty banged up. Not to mention it wouldn't fit through the door.

"Go help Chip," Eliza ordered the beast without remorse. She readied her hammer and Phineas readied his sword.

"Wait!" Phineas said as he once again noticed the psychedelic pattern on his weapon. He couldn't be positive, but he was now fairly certain he knew what spell was stored in his artifact.

"What is it? We don't have time to dawdle. Enemy units could be here any moment."

"I- I think I have an idea." Without waiting for permission, Phineas flourished his sword at Princess Eliza and released its spell. Immediately the princess became stockier, less muscular, and most importantly, a mustache sprouted from her upper lip. She was still wearing the same armor and carrying the same weapon, but at a glance she looked just like Queen Chevron of Ponchovilla.

After a split second of self study, Eliza's reaction came. "What did you do to me!? I'm an abomination!"

"You are the Queen of Ponchovilla. Or at least you look like her. Her Signamancer cast that spell on a courtier when we arrived. I though it might help confuse our enemies."

"Ugh. If you weren't so low on hits right now, I would take a few from you myself. This better not be permanent." With that Eliza readjusted her grip on her hammer and charged into the hall, Phineas trailing behind her.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Sat Apr 09, 2011 3:55 am

Phineas followed his former side's most experienced warlord into the hallway of their enemy's garrison tower. Even in the less than athletic guise of Queen Chevron, Eliza's skill and power were evident. The way she held her hammer ready over her shoulder. The way she moved carefully and purposefully with every step. It was like watching a cat hunting for a mouse it could smell nearby. Magnificent.

Still, these mice threatened to eat this cat alive. Phineas had never been one to be afraid of croaking. Even leaping from a tower top toward likely demise had not worried him. Sure, he had always payed close attention to the threat of croaking and tried to minimize the risks, but he had never feared the possibility. But here, knowing he was going to croak but not knowing when or how... It was starting to edge into his consciousness.

They turned a corner. A pair of guards at the end of the hall noticed them immediately and engaged. But as they approached, Phineas noticed they seemed hesitant to strike. He could only imagine what must be going through their heads. Obviously they knew Eliza was an enemy, but as non-commanders, they couldn't see stats and were apparently second guessing one of their most basic instincts. Eliminate unallied forces.

Their mistake was fatal, as Eliza dropped them without taking a scratch. "Two down," she said, then headed down the steps the guards had been protecting. They were trying to find their way to the balcony overlooking the courtyard. If Eliza and Phineas could take out the archers there, Seymour and Chu would have an easier time taking that zone of the garrison.

There were two more guards at the bottom of the steps who were too busy standing at attention to see who was coming. The second one was croaked before he could even look over and see what had happened to the first, and Eliza was continuing her way down the hall before either hit the ground. Phineas was beginning see why the princess made such good money as a mercenary for hire.

"The archers are just up ahead," Eliza claimed. "I can hear them." Now that she mentioned it, Phineas could hear them too. Someone was barking out orders, then the twang of fired arrows rang out, and then more orders again. "Cover my rear." The caster tightened his grip on his sword, then followed Eliza as she moved through the doorway to engage the archers on the balcony.

The Ponchovillan warlord issuing the orders was on the opposite side of the balcony, looking out over the courtyard. Between the doorway and him, there were two stacks of eight archers. Eliza went straight for the warlord by going through the archers with her hammer. Four were knocked aside before they even realized they had been engaged, but there would be four more to go through before Eliza could reach her target. The enemy warlord turned around and drew his sword in one fluid movement. Phineas, with his two remaining hits, followed Eliza's orders and jumped into the fray.

If these had been pikers or stabbers, he wouldn't have stood a chance. But as it happened, they were archers. And not exceptionally high level ones at that. While far from defenseless, they were not meant for close range combat. Phineas skewered one that was taking aim at Eliza. The archer croaked. Normally he would have had to strike a unit like that several times to bring it down, but he had the privilege of being in the personal stack of a high level warlord. Her leadership bonus amplified his own combat capabilities well beyond the norm.

Phineas sliced to the side, breaking a bow in twain. He then brought his sword up and put a gash across his target's face. The Carnymancer looked up just in time to see an arrow strike Eliza from behind in the shoulder. He chopped down on the head archer responsible. It was now apparent that the enemy was targeting the warlord, Eliza, just as she herself was doing. They didn't much care that she looked like their queen.

"Eliza!" Phineas exclaimed in worry as Ponchovialla's warlord took a swing at her. She deflected the blow, but just barely. His sword was faster then her hammer. However, when Eliza swung and the enemy tried to deflect her blow, the force was too great and he stumbled backward into an archer. They both crashed to the floor, followed closely by Eliza's weapon. WHAMO! With their leadership bonus now gone, the remaining archers were downed quickly.

"Not bad for a caster," Eliza said as she broke off the arrow shaft lodged in her shoulder.

"And I'm only getting better," he retorted. "I just leveled."

Eliza smiled and clapped him on the back. "Congratulations, but we still got work to do." Without another word she turned to head back out into the hallway.

Unfortunately, the doorway was blocked by a stack of infantrymen. And not archers this time.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Mon Apr 25, 2011 3:43 am

Princess Eliza wasted no time in attacking. Phineas went wide-eyed when she broke stack and ran forward. "Fliers, to Phineas!" she commanded even as she ran forward with her hammer at the ready. "Direct them when they arrive."

He had the urge to attack in order to help the warlord, but she engaged the enemy on her own for a reason. These were infantryman meant for close combat. Phineas wouldn't last two seconds against a max stack of them. Not when he was as injured as he was. Of course he might be able to get off a spell or two before running out of juice, but he could do that from back here too.

The Carnymancer looked into the airspace behind him and saw the fliers inbound. Their one remaining mothra croaked as it approached, from a stray arrow fired from another part of the tower. However, the three imps were sill fit for battle, if a bit battered up. They each landed on the balcony and joined Phineas's stack.

The enemy infantrymen must have been at a high level, because Eliza had only managed to croak one thus far. If he wasn't mistaken, Phineas thought he recognized one or two of the men as the units who had tried to engage him at the top of the tower. This was not going to go well for Eliza if Phineas didn't help out quickly. He knew the imps were good with their Shockmancy special, but the memory of what happened to Bub Beelze when shockmancy was used on one of these tower tiers made him hesitant.

"It looks like the Princess could use some Luckamancy," Phineas said, remembering one of their other specials. "Go use some."

Wicked grins appeared on each of the imps as they hopped to the floor and rushed forward. Phineas heard Biddy D, Bobby D, and Bo speak for the first time as they leaped at their targets and invoked their talents.

"Salagadoola!"
"Mechicka!"
"Boola!"

The Luckamancy was apparent immediately, although it wasn't Princess Eliza they had targeted. It was the Ponchovillan infantrymen. While it was true that these imps were capable of using Luckamancy, they could only access the bad kind.

A swordsman tripped and fell into a fellow stabber, causing unintentional injury. Another accidentally cut the straps to one of her ally's armor, which promptly fell off. Yet another infantryman sneezed just as he would have landed a powerful blow, causing him to miss. Minor, yet fatal missteps like this continued until Eliza and the imps croaked every last one of them.

Eliza took a moment to recompose herself and stood amongst the croaked bodies of their enemy, leaning on her hammer. Even in the guise of the Ponchovillan queen, her power was evident. And as Phineas gazed upon her stats, her lack of remaining hits was evident as well. She was not much more well off than himself. "We should get moving," she said without hesitation. "Stack up."

Phineas complied without question. He wanted to suggest that they refrain from getting into any large engagements since they were low on hits, but he knew it wasn't an option. Every unit they had would need to put its life on the line, down to their very last point, or this would all be for naught. He and Eliza were no exception. If they still had the ability to croak their enemy, that is exactly what they would need to do.

Phineas was just about to follow Eliza and the imps into the tower interior when he heard a crash behind him. The caster glanced over his shoulder and saw topiaries and cloth golems entering Ponchovilla's courtyard. A small smile appeared on his face as Phineas entered the building. Maybe they still had a chance after all.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Sat May 14, 2011 3:22 am

With all due haste, Phineas, Eliza, and the imps traversed the tower, heading to the final tier of the tower in order to take out the last of the archers. However, when they reached their destination, the last tier was empty. Not an archer in sight. "What? Where are they?" Phineas asked, confused.

Eliza got a smirk on her face. "I think they thought we were too much to handle after taking out that last stack. Did you notice that we didn't run into any guards this time?" Phineas nodded even though he hadn't noticed until she pointed it out just now. "The queen withdrew her forces."

The Carnymancer furrowed his brow. "Why? It wouldn't take much more for her to hold this tower. Now she's handing it over to us, no contest?"

"Look out there," Eliza said, extending a battle battered arm toward the courtyard. Chu and Seymour were tearing through the enemy infantry with their heavies, but they were ultimately losing. But Chip, Polly, and a couple kelpies were exiting the water now and heading over to help reinforce the remaining stacks. The battle was still a toss up.

Eliza continued. "The queen knows that she only needs to hold one garrison zone to defeat us. From her perspective, she knows we took out a group of archers and a strong stack of infantrymen. If we were a weak force we would have failed. Instead of risking continued defeat, or further dividing her own forces, she decided to consolidate them. She has no idea how weak we actually are right now, but she knows that by giving us the tower we will be forced to join the courtyard battle or attack the dungeon. And we may not even be able to get into the dungeon without some form of siege, which would make the courtyard battle our only logical choice."

Phineas tried to absorb all she said, but despite all his experience in battle, he was still not as good as a warlord when it came to strategic matters such as this. Still, it seemed logical and he was given no reason to doubt the likelihood of her assessment. "So... we are heading for the courtyard then?" Their stack returned to the tower interior and headed for the entrance.

"Yes, we are. But not to engage the enemy." Eliza smiled when she saw the confusion on Phineas's face. "I have a feeling that is the bulk of Ponchovilla's remaining forces out there. If we are going to defeat them, it will be in the courtyard where our heavies can hit them. We can't allow them the means to retreat."

Now he understood. If Ponchovilla's infantry retreated into the dungeon, they would be nearly impossible to defeat. With a Dollamancer and a Florist, Traz's caster-created units could be healed and endure longer. However, that was not the case with Traz's infantry. Most of their mounts had already lost their riders, and there were still fewer Traz men on foot. The heavies wouldn't be able to fight in the dungeon, which would leave only the few men they had left at that point. Eliza was right. They needed to make sure those units stayed outside.

"I sure hope you have a plan," Phineas said as they neared the entrance.

"Not really, no. When you walked in from the front, did you see any doors that could be bared?"

He had to think back. At the time he hadn't been paying much attention to details like that. "No, I don't think so. But I'm pretty sure there was a portcullis."

"Goose gizzards," the princess cursed. "That'll take too long. If they see us lowering it, we'll get croaked before it's closed for sure. Got anything in your bag of tricks that might help?"

It was a sudden and unexpected question. The caster's mind raced through all the spells he could cast with his remaining juice and tried to imagine how they could be used in this situation. He might be able to stall a couple would-be attackers, but not everyone. No, he would need to think of something else.

"Phineas?" They rounded a corner and suddenly the tower entrance was in sight. There was a guard standing to either side of the doorway, watching the battle in the courtyard. They paid little attention to the warlord in the guise of their queen approaching behind them, but they did turn around when they noticed the imps. "Imps, to the right! I got the left. I need the plan now Phineas." No sooner did Eliza crack open the skull of the guard than did a stack of infantrymen out in the courtyard turn to face the new threat.

Phineas's eyes darted around quickly, looking for an answer. The portcullis above seemed to be operated by a pulley and crank. It could be lowered quickly, but not quickly enough. What they really needed to do was break the chain at the top. Then the whole thing would fall down into place.

"Eliza, hit the crank with your hammer. Hard!" The princess wasted no time doing as Phineas commanded. As she raised her mighty weapon above her head, he cast his spell and hoped it would work. "Arckie!"

The force of her hammer hit like thunder. Glitzy lights shot up along the chain holding the portcullis. When the lights reached the top, the chain snapped with a resounding ring of success. As a prize for her feat of strength, the portcullis came crashing down in front of Eliza's feet just as the enemy units came within striking range.

"That'll do, caster. That'll do."
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Sat May 21, 2011 3:27 am

With the portcullis closed, Phineas found himself at odds with his current situation. By the look on Princess Eliza's face, he could tell she felt much the same. They had done what was needed, but now they were cut off from the rest of the battle. It was only a matter of moments before Eliza ordered the imps to go fly out of the tower and stack up with Commander Chip outside, and a few moments more before she was pacing back and forth, restless. Every once and a while she would mumble something like, "they need my bonus out there," or, "my nephew better not get himself croaked."

The enemy infantrymen on the other side of the portcullis had gone to rejoin the courtyard battle, so Phineas leaned forward against the bars to take in the scenes going on outside. It was a terrible scene to behold. But like watching a mothra headed for a hex boundary off-turn, he found he just couldn't look away.

Duke Chu Fuman was leading the main offensive atop the LFN Polly made back in Stashburns. He was at the back of his stack, like the other commanders, letting the other units absorb most of the damage. Polly and Seymour were to either side of him, protecting the flanks. They were aiding the units with their bonuses to their creations as best they could, and healing them when able. However, it was obvious that Polly had run out of juice and Seymour would surely be depleted soon, too.

Chip, for what it was worth, was doing his former side a favor by staying in the rear with a battle bear. It was their only unit left with a ranged attack. It was bad enough that they had to risk him in the water earlier, but if he croaked now, there would be no hope left for Traz. If Chip ended up being the only unit in this city not croaked, then they will have succeeded.

As Phineas watched the battle bear lob another boulder at a stack of infantry, the imps flew down and joined Chip's stack. The imps' power had been spent, but they could still inflict physical damage if needed.

While Ponchovilla's courtyard units appeared to be unlead, they still had the levels and the sheer numbers, and were giving Traz's army some serious trouble. The bubble of units surrounding Traz's commanders was slowly shrinking as they advanced. Foliage, fluff, and flesh was left in their wake. They were beginning to consolidate their stacks now.

Phineas glanced to his side and saw Eliza standing next to him, concern on her face. "They gotta make it, Phineas," she said, barely above a whisper. "They gotta."

"They will," he assured her. He just wished he felt as confident as he sounded. He watched as one of the imps took a spear for Chip.

It was two Ponchovillan stacks now, pikers and stabbers, versus one stack of Traz's units. A battle bear, Chip on a kelpie, Polly on the ground, two imps, Seymour on a topiary, one unmounted kelpie, and Chu on an LFN.

Chu's mount was croaked out from under him, but he smoothly rolled to his feet as the beast fell. A mob of stabbers attempted to swarm Chu, but Seymour was ready with a spell. He pointed a green thumb at the attackers and shouted "Spathiphyllum!" The peace lilies started to grow, but the spell fizzled halfway through. He was out of juice.

Chu took several cuts and gave some in return before a large boulder smashed into the enemy stack. The battle bear that threw it was close behind.

The enemy pikers had tried to flank the group, and croaked the lone kelpie without much trouble. Polly and Chip were right behind it, clearly outmatched, but ready with their weapons nonetheless. And the imps had already flanked the flankers and were attacking from above and behind.

As a piker went for Chip, he batted their pole arm to the side and stabbed them in the spleen, then had his mount reared up and stomped down with its leafy hooves. He knocked the next piker to the side too, toward Polly. Who, to Phineas's surprise, took her magic oversized needle and jabbed it through the enemy's throat, pinning him to the ground, croaked. Just as Polly looked up from her victory, another piker did a very similar thing to her.

Phineas gasped.

Seymour screamed in a berserker rage.

The Florist's topiary was in the fray in seconds, flinging pikers left and right. Chip tried to help, but couldn't get close enough to the carnage to do anything. If Seymour had been at full juice, Phineas had a feeling the whole courtyard would have erupted into a jungle of savage botanical beasts. It wasn't long before all the pikers, then the last of the stabbers, were croaked. But Seymour didn't stop there. He dismounted, fell to his knees and proceeded to engage the body of the piker that felled Polly.

Chip and Chu watched in disbelief for a while, then pulled Seymour away. The Hippiemancer struggled to escape, but when he realized he couldn't get away from the warlords, he slumped to the ground, crying.

"Poor thing," Eliza said. "I guess they were the real deal." Phineas looked over to see a frown on her face, but no other visible emotion. She was good at putting on a strong face, he had to admit.

Without a word spoken, Chip and Chu led the battle bear and topiary over to the portcullis to take it down. Seymour was left to his thoughts in the courtyard, sitting on his heals amongst the fallen.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:38 am

With no opposition, the portcullis was down in minutes. Chip, Chu, and the imps immediately stacked up with Eliza and Phineas inside the tower's entrance. Thankfully the Signamancy spell on Eliza was wearing off by now. The topiary, kelpie, and battle bear were left with Seymour in the courtyard. They hovered around him blankly as the Florist continued to mourn.

"Ugh, we don't have time for this," Chip scoffed, pointing an arm back at Seymour. "We need to move forward and he's busy sobbing in the dirt."

"Leave him be," Phineas scolded. "I'll talk to him when the time comes. Can't we decide on a plan of action first?"

Chu grunted his disapproval and Eliza shifted uneasily. Chip rolled his eyes and let the subject drop. "We have the tower and the courtyard. All we need is the dungeon and we take the city."

"Easier said than done," Eliza retorted. "There is a ruler down there with an entire escort of archers."

"Archers?" Chu looked confused. "Archers in the dungeon? Are you sure?"

"It's true," Phineas supplied. "In the tower we were headed to engage them, but they were gone by the time we reached their post. I would imagine arrows flying down the dungeon corridors will cause problems for us, no?" Phineas glanced at everyones' stats. A well placed arrow could easily croak any one of them. "And besides Queen Chevron herself, there are at least two courtiers and a spent Signamancer still unaccounted for."

Commander Chip's brow wrinkled into a combination of frustration and intense concentration. "We don't even have enough units for a max stack that can enter the dungeon. How in the name of the titans are we supposed to win this?" He shook his head clear. "We can't. It's impossible. The smart thing to do would be to go ally with the Red Baron and try again later."

Princess Eliza looked absolutely disgusted. "Ignoring the fact that I refuse to give up after sacrificing so many Taziant lives, we simply do not have the move! Not to mention we have no way to pay for upkeep next turn. We spent both to get here, remember?" It was true. They had used every available mount to get their forces here in one turn instead of two, and all but two of those mounts were now croaked. If they walked from this city, they wouldn't make it more than a couple hexes. Meanwhile, when they ended turn they would still be injured and Ponchovilla's units would be healed.

"What options do we have, Princess?" Duke Chu asked. "My old queen is holed up like a badger in her den. Not much to look at, but dangerous all the same."

"I don't know," she replied, seemingly defeated. She perked up a bit. "Do you still have those scrolls, Phineas? No wait, the Dollamancer had them. Is there still no way to make use of them?"

Phineas shook his head, glancing over at where Polly's body was motionless on the ground. "Moneymancy and Findamancy won't do much good here. At least not the kind in those scrolls." The Carnymancer let his gaze fall grimly to the ground at his feet. However, it wasn't his own feet he took note of. What captured his attention were the blue flippers still equipped to Commander Chip. The magic item that Duke Chu had brought from Ponchovilla to Port Manteau all those many turns ago. An idea was forming in the caster's mind.

"We should search the tower," Phineas finally said. The rest of his stack shot him looks devoid of comprehension. "There may be something in here that can be used. Weapons, armor, maybe even scrolls or other magic items. They had a Shockmancer so some useful magic wouldn't be beyond possibility. Maybe we can use Ponchovilla's own resources against them. As long as they are holed up in that dungeon, we have nothing to lose by looking."

"It's a start at least," Chip agreed. "We'll each take a floor. Duke Fuman, you take the fourth floor and the roof. I'll take the third floor, Aunt Eliza will take the second, and Carnymancer, you take the first. Imps, watch the tower from the air and we'll hand you anything useful out the windows. Bring it back here and we will plan from there. We'll let the Florist hold the courtyard. Go."
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Tue Jun 07, 2011 2:55 am

It didn't take long for Phineas to realize he had the boring floor of the tower to search through. A sizable amount of space was taken up by Queen Chevron's throne room. After skirting Vladmir's body that was still on the floor, the Carnymancer looked around quickly. While the room was beautifully and lavishly decorated, there wasn't anything present which looked useful at a glance.

So he continued on.

Beyond the throne, behind an excessive number of curtains, Phineas found a door that led to the queen's private quarters. There was a bed, a wardrobe, a desk with papers on it, and a table for snacking. Large windows let in light from the outside. He had high hopes that the queen might have a private stash of powerful items, but after tearing the room apart he found nothing more interesting than patterned dresses and mustache wax.

Across the hall from Chevron's room were a few rooms which seemed to be lodging for servants and courtiers. There were several interesting looking baubles stowed away for safe keeping, but Phineas surmised that their only value was sentimental. He left them be and continued down the hall.

At the end of the hall was an armory of sorts. Along the walls were weapons of all shapes and sizes. Phineas let his hopes raise as he searched over the equipment but quickly realized they were just spare tools meant for training. If they needed weapons there were plenty on the ground out in the courtyard. This room was useless at the moment, but he would keep it in mind.

Phineas headed to what he assumed to be the last room on the first floor. Expectantly, the caster inched the door open.

It was the larder.

With slumped shoulders Phineas walked over to the table in the center of the room and sat his hat down on top of it, then sat on the table himself. He ran his fingers through his hair in defeat and looked around. There were cupboards of provisions, neat stacks of eating utensils, and in one corner there was a cauldron almost as tall as himself that looked as if it could make soup for an entire army. There was a window on one side too, but the view was horrible. It was located where the courtyard walls met the tower, so the only thing you could really see was a muddy bank next to the river. On the table itself it looked as if someone was in the middle of making lunch when they were called away to fight. Phineas picked up a stray olive and popped it into his mouth. He pulled his hat back onto his head a hopped back to the floor.

Thud.

With a quick glance to the floor, Phineas noticed the square of wood for the first time. A trap door! The rout to the dungeon. Without wasting a second, he pulled the table over top of it and started piling heavy things on to weigh it down. He didn't want anybody trying to sneak out until they were ready to sneak in. Chances were high that the missing archers would be waiting inside, their arrows pointing straight up.

As soon as Phineas finished his makeshift barricade, he made his way back to the tower entrance to report his findings. When he arrived, nobody was there. There was, however, a small stack of items that the others had found. A pair of slippers, a length of colorful rope, a hand mirror, a box of jewelry, and other assorted junk. Phineas sighed as an imp dropped a jewel encrusted letter opener onto the pile. None of the items were magical, but it seemed the warlords thought they might be. They didn't know any better. Sure, they would probably know if an item was magical if they saw it, but they didn't know if an item wasn't magical.

Instead of going to help them search, however, Phineas headed back to the throne room to languish. As he plopped down into Queen Chevron's throne, he let his mind wander to the impossible task at hand. Now that he knew where the entrance to the dungeon was, their defeat seemed all but guaranteed. A trap door meant they would need to climb down a ladder, or at least jump down a hole, all while Ponchovilla units attacked their nearly depleted force.

They might be able to keep them trapped in the dungeon for a turn, then attack them with full juice and hits on the next. But again, they had no schmuckers for upkeep. And even if they did, Queen Chevron would just call in forces from elsewhere to take care of their measly group.

It seemed their only hope really was to use Ponchovilla's own resources against them. Resources which they were having no luck in finding. "What I wouldn't do for full juice right now," Phineas mumbled. He let an arm drop lazily off the throne's arm rest and gazed out at the water. It really was a beautiful scenery. He could see why the queen chose to place her throne here, facing the wall-less tower rear. He watched a stray bit of ship wreckage float by outside, from one side of the view to the other. What he wouldn't give to be able to just float away like that right now.

Phineas sat bolt upright. "The resource."

Without a moment's hesitation, he headed for the courtyard. When he reached the area he called up into the sky, "Bobby D. Come here." The imp flew down an hovered in front of him without comment. "I want you to fly up and tell everyone to come down here. They can stop searching." An unsettling grin crossed the flyer's face, he gave a quick salute, then headed off to (presumably) complete his task.

Once the imp was out of sight, Phineas continued on his way out into the courtyard. It was time to talk to Seymour.

The Florist was sitting cross-legged now, next to Polly's body. Phineas walked up next to Seymour without saying a word, then sat down in the dirt next to him. Together they sat silently, needing no words to know what the other was saying. They had both lost a friend that day. Many friends. Phineas himself wasn't sure how he could shoulder so much grief, but he knew how Seymour couldn't. They had both lost many people they cared about since leaving Traz, but only Seymour had lost someone he loved.

"She had talent, you know," Seymour finally said. "For Dollamancy, I mean. Sure, her golems looked like they were put together in the dark, but she had talent." Phineas remained silent, but rested a hand on his shoulder. "She could make whatever you wanted. Clothes, trinkets, furniture. Anything. And she knew how to do it without magic. She made me this last night." Seymour pulled from his pocket a wooden rose, polished to expert brilliance. "She handed it to me before heading off with Prince Chip at the beginning of our turn. She said it was for good luck."

Phineas faced Seymour, both their eyes reddened. In the distance he could see the warlords waiting, but Eliza had the sense to hold them back. "Polly will not be forgotten," Phineas said with the utmost sincerity. "Not if we succeed today." He waited for a moment before continuing.

"I know this is hard, but Polly wouldn't want you to mourn over her. Not yet, anyway." Phineas stood up and offered a hand. "Not when we still have a garrison to take."

Seymour looked up at the Carnymancer, making no move to take the hand offered. "It's hopeless, Phineas. We're done. We are at our story's end."

Phineas felt a corner of his mouth lift up into a smile. "Take my hand and I'll show you a different ending."
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Sun Jun 12, 2011 2:05 am

After respectfully retrieving the scrolls from Polly's pockets, Phineas led Seymour to where the warlords were waiting. They had been patient, but he could tell their patience was now running low. And not without reason.

"What is it this time?" Chip asked, arms crossed and foot tapping. "Did we find something useful?"

Phineas waved a hand at their collection dismissively. "That stuff? No, it's all junk. Useless for anything but what it was popped for."

Everyone, even the imps, looked lost. "Then why call us down from our search?" Eliza asked.

"Because, my good friends, I have found the entrance to the dungeon. It is under a trap door in the larder."

Eliza and Chip looked impressed, but Chu's expression was as firm as ever. "So what? That won't do us a burnt kabob of good unless we have a way to actually take the dungeon. And I doubt you found that rummaging around down here." Phineas smirked at the duke. "Cottonbreath, what is it?"

Seymour spoke up this time. "But, you said everything they found was useless..."

"No," Phineas corrected, "everything in that pile is useless. What I found can't be put into the pile. It's too big."

"Phineas?" Eliza asked. "What is it that you found?"

"It would make more sense after I show you, rather than try to explain my plan. I ask that you bear with me and I'll command everyone where they need to go." Phineas looked to Commander Chip. Even though the heir to Traz was not technically Phineas's ruler at the moment, and Phineas did not particularly like the man on a personal level, he was still the unofficial leader of their forces.

Chip stared intensely at Phineas for several long moments, considering. The caster could practically see the wheels turning in the commander's head. Just when Phineas was certain Chip was going to deny his request, the former prince surprised him. "Very well, Carnymancer. Show us what you got."

After shaking off the surprise, Phineas redoubled his focus on the task at hand. "Right. First order. Commander Chip, I want you to form a two-stack with the battle bear and exit the courtyard."

"What!?"

"Once outside the garrison, go left and follow the courtyard wall until you reach the tower. I would suggest you keep those flippers on."

"This is preposterous!" Chip had his hands clenched into fist as he stomped past into the courtyard. "This is what I get for listening to the battle plans of a caster. No good, useless Carnymancer with no head for tactics. He's going to get us all croaked without putting so much as a scratch on the enemy's remaining forces. I have half a mind to..." His words became too faint to hear as he walked away into the distance with the heavy battle bear lumbering behind.

Duke Chu seemed amused. "Never thought I would see the day a king followed the jester's commands. I hope you have better orders for the rest of us, Magic Man."

"Yeah. Follow me. And Seymour, bring your constructs so we can keep a max stack."

Phineas led the way to the larder with two warlords, two imps, a florist, a kelpie, and a topiary navigating the halls behind him. The kelpie could fit through the doorways well enough, but the topiary had some problems. It left a few cracked doorframes and spare foliage in its wake, but eventually they all made it to the larder.

"What is next?" Eliza asked, apparently curious to see where this was going.

Without responding, Phineas walked over to the larder's window and leaned outside. Sure enough, there was Chip walking with the battle bear next to the courtyard wall, through the mud. The cloth golem's head was about the same height as the window. "We need this window bigger! But only wider and taller. Not lower." Phineas yelled out to him. "And remember, we are inside, so be careful." Turning to Seymour he added, "You can help with the topiary from the inside."

"Warlords, imps, help me move this table off the trap door. Kelpie, stand on top of the door after we move the table. Once we get the room cleared, we need to pile stuff up in the doorway. Packed tight." The group worked quickly and quietly to complete their tasks. The steady pounding of siege on stone fell into a rhythm as everyone did as Phineas directed. Soon the tower wall had a large hole in the side and the doorway was tightly barricaded waist high with various larder equipment.

"One more thing," Phineas said, pointing to the large cauldron in the corner. "We need to move that over to there." He moved his pointer finger from the corner to the window. Eliza, Seymour, and Chu still seemed confused about the plan, but the imps looked to be holding back some cackles. This plan had been inspired by the backward-yet-viable logic Bub Beelze always seemed to favor, so he wasn't surprised they were catching on. The four commanders and two imps all got on the opposite side of the enormous object and heaved. The heavy metal grated against the floor as they used every muscle in their bodies to keep it in motion. By the time they stopped at the window, Phineas's arms and legs felt like they might fall off, and his limbs weren't even as battle-damaged as the others'.

"Is this sideshow almost complete, Carnymancer?" Chu asked. "Or is your next command to throw down our weapons in leu of frying pans and cast iron kettles?"

With a twinkle in his eye, Phineas replied, "Duke Fuman, you have no idea how close you are to the truth." The caster commanded out the window once more. "Battle bear, put down your tools of siege and take up this cauldron." The golem complied without question but Chip looked about ready to burst. Phineas hurried to issue his next order before the warlord could protest. "Fill it with the river's water and empty it into the larder. Gather, rinse, repeat."

Chip froze suddenly and tipped his head sideways, obviously beginning to realize what was going on. The commanders inside the tower had similar looks upon their faces, but Phineas didn't let them have the time to think it out. "Everyone, prepare to strike whatever may come out of the dungeon. Kelpie, move off the door." The Florist's creation whinnied and stepped away from the trap door as everyone else in the larder surrounded it. "Bobby D. Open it."

The passage to the dungeon was opened as the first deluge of water was poured in through the window. Phineas could hear cries of panic rise up from below as the flooding of the dungeon began.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Wed Jun 15, 2011 3:40 am

"Can this really work?" Princess Eliza asked over the roar of the churning water. Even as she spoke, her eyes were fixed on the dungeon entrance, ready to use her hammer on anyone who might climb up.

Phineas shrugged. "Got a better idea?" He was ready with his magic sword, too, but he was using most of his concentration to keep his footing. The water rushing past their feet was his biggest threat at the moment.

Chu had a better answer for Eliza. "Out at sea, when a non-water unit has too much liquid dumped on its head for too long, it croaks. Why should that be any different in a dungeon? And Queen Chevron is no water-capable ruler."

With the matter settled, their stack waited with words unspoken for several minutes with no actions taken. The water poured in through the side of the tower continued to flow across the floor and into the level below. The barriers they made in the doorway did a decent job of keeping the majority of the water from flowing out into the hall. After what must have been fifty tireless dumps from the cloth golem outside, the first enemy was spotted in the trap door.

What emerged first was a bow, poking up through the cascading water. Eliza wasted no time in smashing it with her hammer, breaking the top of the weapon and rendering it useless. A second later a head emerged from the watery hole, soaked and gasping for air. In an instant one of the imps lunged forward and latched onto the enemy's face. Arrows from below shot up around the imp, but the water rendered most of them useless. Still, a shaft found its way into the imp's shoulder and both units fell down into the depths, croaked.

"Stay back!" Eliza ordered. "Don't let your bodies extend over the opening. Just your weapons. We can't afford to lose anyone else."

There were two more attempts to climb out shortly after, but both units were dispatched with ease and no hits lost. After that it seemed there was no more action. Water kept going down, but nobody came up.

"Did they croak already?" Seymour finally asked.

"Is the garrison ours?" Chu retorted. "Until it is, a unit survives. And until this city flies the grey flags of neutrality, my old queen lives." The duke adjusted his legs and tightened his grip on his weapon, as if preparing for an attack at any moment. "They are probably waiting until they know they will not make it. Then they will attack in force!"

At that, everyone prepared likewise for an imminent attack. Then they waited. And waited. Each cauldron full of water would be enough broth to boil a kelpie, but the dungeon was large. It took time to fill it up. And the more time that passed by, the more impatient they became. Just when Phineas thought they might actually have to go in after Ponchovilla's infantry, he heard the clanking of armor and weapons down below once more.

The first two were croaked by the warlords before Phineas even saw them through the water. The third only got her head above the entrance before Eliza cracked it open. The fourth met his end at the point of Phineas's own weapon.

It was a massacre.

Every time units made it up to the top, they would be attacked before they could manage so much as a swift punch to the ankle. The croaked or incapacitated unit would then fall below, knocking most of their allies back down with them. By the time the water had filled in the entrance and it no longer had anywhere to flow down to, it seemed all enemies had been croaked.

Yet the garrison still remained in Ponchovillan control.

"I don't get it," Phineas admitted. "The dungeon is filled to overflowing. How is it that we still have not won?"

"Queen Chevron must have found a way to avoid croaking," Eliza said, stating the obvious. Another rush of water came in through the window, filling the room to their knees. Eliza went to the hole in the wall to address her nephew. "You can stop now, Chip. The dungeon is flooded."

After a moment, the battle bear lifted Chip up to the window and he stepped inside. "Why haven't we taken the garrison then?" he asked.

"Because my plan failed. I don't know why, but it failed." Phineas took off his top hat and threw it to the ground in frustration. It slid across the water's surface and came to a stop at Duke Chu's knees.

"I think our reason is right here," Chu explained. The duke lit a cigarette, then examined the hat. He bent down and pushed against the top with his free hand. As he added pressure, the hat began to sink below the surface, but when he let go, the hat raised itself back toward the open air. "If the air can't escape the hat, it stays in."

"What are you saying?" Chip asked. "Queen Chevron stuck her head in a hat?" Phineas had to admit that he didn't really understand either.

Seymour's eyes got wide as the Florist comprehended what the warlord was saying. "Yes! She stuck her head in a hat, but the hat was a room!"

"You Traziant guys aren't quite as dim as I used to think you were." Chu blew out a smoke ring carelessly. "Yeah, there is probably a room down there that doesn't have water in it yet. Or at least not filled with water. All we need to do now is pop the bubble." Chu picked up Phineas's hat and tossed it back to its owner.

Eliza's brow wrinkled in frustration. "So... how do we do that? Poke a hole in her room? Won't that just let the water out?"

"Not if you poke it high enough," Seymour supplied. "We could go in through the ceiling. We still got a topiary to provide indoor siege. I just need to know where to tell it to part the stones."

"And how can we possibly find the right spot?" Chip asked skeptically.

Phineas reached into his pocket and pulled out one of Polly's last two scrolls. "How 'bout some Findamancy?"
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Sat Jun 18, 2011 4:30 am

"Are you sure you don't want me to cast it?" Seymour asked as they stood in Queen Chevron's throne room. It was the largest room on the first floor of the tower, and so was most likely to have the queen beneath it. They left the battle bear outside, pouring more water in as a safety precaution, since it would not have fit in the tower anyway. This meant their stack now consisted of Phineas, Chip, Eliza, Chu, Seymour, a kelpie, an imp, and a topiary.

"I'm sure," Phineas replied. "I can handle it." He only wished he was as confident as he sounded.

Truthfully, Seymour probably would have been the better choice for casting the Findamancy scroll. Flower Power and Findamancy both used Life magic on the Erf axis. However, neither Phineas nor Seymour had ever cast Findamancy before. But Phineas was a higher class of caster and had only just recently watched an actual Findamancer cast spells up close.

Phineas stepped up onto the pedestal and stood before the queen's throne, holding the scroll. "I'll need everyone to remain as quiet as possible, and try not to move." He looked from face to face, seeing that everyone was waiting for him to begin.

The Carnymancer closed his eyes. He cleared his mind of all that was not relevant and filled it with all that was. Life magic was not unknown to him, as a Carnymancer, but pure Life magic was not what he was used to. And Erf magic... His most recent experience with Erf magic was when he used a Turnamancy scroll to turn Duke Chu back in Port Manteau.

"Here goes," he muttered. Phineas opened the scroll and his eyes simultaneously. The juice stored within surged through him, threatening to break free. It felt different from his own. Less familiar. Harder to control. If he didn't use it soon, he would loose it for good.

The caster struggled to unlock the spell's puzzle and put all the pieces in the right place. The spell needed order and purpose, and it was up to him to provide those necessities. Just when he thought he could not possibly hold the spell for another second, he spoke the single command word.

"Zectron!"

There was a concussive blast of magic that caused everyone to stagger and Phineas thought for sure he had messed up the spell. But then the magic returned and coalesced into a glowing orb that floated before the Carnymancer, waiting to be given a target. He reached out and brought the glowing orb close. "Lead us to the spot above Ponchovilla's ruler, Queen Chevron." The orb in Phineas's hand ceased to glow.

"Is that it?" Chip finally asked. "Is it done?"

"I believe it is." With that, Phineas let go of the orb and it fell to the ground. But instead of breaking, it bounced. It bounced up and down in place a few times, but then it began moving in a specific direction. Before long it was obvious that it was heading in the direction of the hallway.

"What do we do?" Seymour asked.

Chu sounded annoyed as he suddenly took off in the direction of the orb. "What do you think we do, Hippie? Follow the bouncing ball!" Everyone followed without question.

As their stack walked briskly down the hall after the magic ball, Eliza asked Phineas, "Isn't this an odd way to find someone? Wouldn't it have been easier to get a spell that just points to where the target is?"

Phineas smiled. "Polly got this spell to find you, recall. If you were in a city trying not to get caught by us, would you have stayed in the spot that was pointed to?"

"No, I suppose not."

"Right. So Polly was wise to get a scroll that could find a target that moves, no matter how odd that spell may be." The ball bounced down a side hallway and into a room. Their stack followed and found themselves in the training room. The ball had moved to the center and was now bouncing in place. "There is where you make your break through," the caster instructed. The orb dissipated, no longer needed.

Immediately Seymour went to work with the topiary. The massive shrub of a unit dug its stumpy feet into the floor. It then put down roots that slowly cracked the floor apart, taking out bits of stone as they came loose. It wasn't as direct an approach as most siege units took, but it was an effective approach all the same. Before too long, bits of stone were falling away and light could be seen below. Shouts could be heard, but it was difficult to understand what was being said over all the splashing.

"Prepare yourselves," Chip commanded. "This is it." Everyone but the topiary got into formation and approached the ever-widening opening. Chip was in front with Eliza and Chu to either side. Phineas, the kelpie, and Seymour took up the rear, and the imp floated above. They stepped up to the hole in the floor just as another piece of rubble fell away. Looking over Eliza's shoulder, Phineas could see clearly into the dungeon for the first time.

Standing on a table in a room slowly filling with water, was the Queen of Ponchovilla. But in front of her were her courtiers, Vandyke and Dalí, each holding a weapon clumsily. And in front of the courtiers was Ponchovilla's Signamancer, Lord Ross, out of juice but full of scrolls. "Do it. Do it now!"

At the queen's order, the Signamancer opened a scroll and a bolt of lightning shot straight toward Chip.

"Watch out!" Phineas shouted, but it was too late for him to do anything. There was a bright flash and Chip shot back through their stack and slammed into the wall. Weapons all around the training room were knocked off their racks. When the dust cleared Phineas was sure he would see a croaked commander, but instead he saw an incapacitated Chip with an incapacitated Bobby D. laying on his lap. The imp must have absorbed the brunt of the Shockmancy scroll, but both still sustained serious injuries from striking the wall so hard.

"Do it again!" he heard the queen order.

"Please," the Signamancer protested.

"Do you want to croak?" The queen slapped the caster across the cheek from behind. "Do it!"

The Signamancer prepared to open another scroll, but had wasted too much time. Chu had already jumped down into the dungeon, followed by Eliza. The duke knocked the scrolls aside with a swing of his weapon, and Eliza knocked the caster aside with a swing of her own. "Casters, neutralize the enemy sorcerer," Eliza commanded as she turned toward the quaking courtiers.

"Please, don't hurt us," Dalí pleaded as Phineas, Seymour, and the kelpie descended to the dungeon.

"Perhaps we can come to an arrangement," Vandyke hoped. Chu and Eliza continued to advance toward them through the waist-high water, and the courtiers backed away, splashing off of their table as they did.

"You should have though of that before using the scroll," Eliza said darkly.

Queen Chevron's eyes darted like a trapped animal toward the Signamancer. "Caster, do something!"

But even if the caster could do something to help them now, the guy was severely battered and Phineas now had his sword pointed at his throat with Seymour restraining him from behind. The kelpie was on standby incase Lord Ross tried anything funny. For the time being, the enemy caster was captured, and the Signamancer didn't seem too distressed by that fact.

With mirrored swipes of their weapons, Eliza and Chu mercilessly brought down the courtiers. "Wait," Chevron said, backing up all the way to the leaking door as the warlords continued to advance on her slowly. Her royal dress billowed in the water, making it awkward for the queen to navigate. "I can employ you. Would you like that? You would be the best paid barbarians ever seen this side of the Mellow Marshes."

"We don't want your schmuckers, Queen." There was pure hatred in Eliza's eyes. "We want your head."

"What of you, warlord?" she addressed Chu. "You were once under my command, how would you like to be once again?"

"A croaked queen makes for a poor ruler." Duke Chu raised his weapon, ready to strike.

The look on Chevron's face changed from desperation to anger. "If I am to croak, then you shall too." With that, the queen turned the knob on the dungeon room door and it burst open.

A torrent of water flooded in, knocking everyone over and pushing everything in all directions. Phineas himself was pinned against the wall by the table, alongside the Signamancer. Already the churning broth was up to his chest.

"The kelpie!" Phineas shouted. "Mount the kelpie!"

Phineas heaved, and with the help of the enemy caster, they moved the table aside. Chu and Seymour were already on the kelpie, using it as a makeshift step to get out of the dungeon. However, Eliza was nowhere in sight. Phineas tried to head toward the equine unit, but the water was up to his neck now, and it was still keeping him mostly to the wall. Just as the water was about to cover his face, he whistled a command to the kelpie and it came over as soon as its passengers had departed.

With silent praise to the titans, Phineas pulled himself up out of the water. "Seymour! Flippers!" he shouted before he was even properly mounted. He reached down into the water and pulled up their prisoner. He let the enemy mount up in front of him. "Now don't go trying anything stupid." The prisoner coughed up water in reply. Phineas steered the kelpie over to the opening in the ceiling and passed the prisoner up to Chu. The water was now well above the door frame.

"Flippers," Seymour said as he handed the magic item down to Phineas. The Carnymancer slipped them on as quickly as possible, then dove into the water.

With the flippers on it was much easier to move through the water, but they did not improve his underwater vision at all, so it still took him a moment to spot Princess Eliza. She was locked in mortal combat with Queen Chevron. It appeared Eliza had lost her weapon in the surge of water, and now the queen, having had her dress become snagged on underwater debris, was now determined to keep Eliza underwater with her until both of them croaked.

"Eliza!" Phineas shouted, although all that came out were gurgles. He kicked his legs and propelled himself toward the battle. Eliza was punching and kicking, but the water was rendering most of her blows ineffective. As he neared, Phineas brought his own sword to bear and stretched it out in front of him. His body glided through the water as easily as his sword glided through the Ponchovillan queen's skull.
Bored? Read The Adventured of Melissa Ray. An Erfworld fanfic. comment here

Or A Tale From Traz. (Now complete!). comment here.
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