First Intermission 44

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'''Turns since TBfGK: 38'''
'''Turns since TBfGK: 38'''
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"I didn't think I was much of a 'routine' guy," [[Parson Gotti|Parson]] said to [[Maggie]], as they reached the corner of Whopper and Smithers.  
+
By his own choice, [[Parson Gotti|Parson]] had taken up residence in one of the little houses near the [[Garrison]], at the corner of Thin Mint and Moe. It worked better than his [[tower]] quarters for rounds, and [[Stanley the Tool|Stanley]] was less likely to drop by and bug him. But it did mean that getting called to [[Stanley the Tool|The Tool's]] office for an ass-chewing always involved a long slog and a million stairs. That was the trade-off, and it was inevitable.
-
Parson had decided to name all of the east-west streets in [[Gobwin Knob]] after Simpsons characters, and all of the north-south avenues after foods he missed. This meant that there was an intersection of Homer and Donut near the center of town, which he called "D'oh Plaza." He'd even had the [[Twoll]]s make street signs and numbers for the building fronts.  
+
The new [[Tower of Efdup]] was nicely decorated and brightly lit. Parson thought it was kind of stuffy and fru-fru, but an improvement over the creepy-ass one with the body parts theme. It was possible to walk through the carpeted hallways and marble staircases without feeling stared at, or in danger of being groped by a light fixture.
-
"But honestly, I'm settling into this. Breakfast, do [[Regent|rounds]], lunch, do sims with [[Jack Snipe|Jack]], dinner, read in the library, or hang out with [[Sizemore Rockwell|Sizemore]] and talk [[magic]]. It's kinda nice. Needs weekends, but it's not bad."
+
Today, he had reached Stanley's office without even getting all that winded. His legs were tightening up, and some of the double folds in his gut were becoming singles again. As a deeply wise man named [[Hamstard]] had once said... hawt.
-
"Mm," said Maggie, walking beside him. They turned up Whopper Avenue toward the bank on Burns Street. "Just as long as being a [[warlord]] is in there somewhere, [[Warlord|Lord]]."
+
The Tool had wanted to bitch about the usual: their situation with [[natural allies]].
-
He knew what she was getting at. They had walked and talked often enough now. Even with a lot of his tactics and ideas getting implemented at the front, Maggie still thought he was wasting his talents. She was pretty stubborn on that point. It came up all the time.  
+
It was a weird problem. All the [[Gobwin]]s and [[Hobgobwin]]s were [[croaked]] in the eruption, of course. [[Wanda Firebaugh|Wanda]] [[decrypted]] most of those, but they no longer counted as a separate [[tribe]]. They were just [[unit]]s of [[Gobwin Knob]]'s [[side]] now.
-
Still, for reasons Parson couldn't put his finger on, Maggie was his favorite walking companion on [[city]] rounds. This made four days in a row that she had gone with him. She was sharp at conversation, a challenge. She could completely kick his ass with one sentence. That was fun.  
+
As tribes, natural allies could [[pop]] new units if they had extra [[Schmucker]]s. So Stanley had used the intervening [[turn]]s and a notable chunk of the [[treasury]] to repopulate the Hobgobwin tribe from the [[Vurp|lone]] remaining [[Knight]] to around two hundred units, about forty or fifty of them Knights. But there were no Gobwins in Gobwin Knob.  
-
He walked along, looking down at the tip of his [[Hamstard]] walking stick as it tapped the bricks at his feet. "Maggie... I'm doing what I can. You know?"
+
And for some reason, they couldn't find any, anywhere.
-
She looked up at him cooly, her gray eyes shining out like an owl's in the shade of her pith helmet. "I know, Lord."
+
[[Sizemore Rockwell|Sizemore]] had been busy, sending out parties of tunnel-capable units to look below ground. Many of the nearby [[mountain]] [[hex]]es had [[tunnels|tunnel]] systems, and it would have been normal to find a feral Gobwin tribe [[mine|mining]] for [[upkeep]] in there somewhere. They had found only a lot of [[Marbit]]s, though, and Marbits and [[Elves]] would not ally with a side that used Gobwins, Hobgobwins, [[Witch]]es or [[Daemon]]s.
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"See that's what I'm saying. I'm kind of finding stuff out here... about myself. Like, how the hell was I supposed to know how I felt about death... about causing death?" said Parson. He didn't feel like adding, "until I did it." He was having a hard enough time just responding to [[Wanda Firebaugh|Wanda's]] requests for tactical advice. Fortunately, he didn't have to do much but play [[Mathamancer]], run the calculations, and say, "yeah, that'll work" to [[Prince Ansom|Ansom's]] fairly solid plans. The one time he'd said "no, bad plan" they'd done it anyway. And that was all just tactics; he wasn't planning strategy. He was off the hook, right?
+
His [[Mathamancy Bracer|bracer]] put it at a 98 percent chance that the [[Archon]]s should have spotted some Gobwins in the mountains or Sizemore found some below ground by now. They'd either rolled a critical fumble, or something weird was going on.
-
"You do have some terribly unorthodox personal views, Lord," said Maggie. A strange little smile curled at one corner of her mouth. "One in particular, I find intriguing."
+
Stanley blamed Parson of course, because of the [[Volcano Uncroaking|volcano]]. Parson had stopped arguing that point (or any) with Stanley, if he could help it. He simply shrugged his way through another pointless meeting about it, got some dumb and conflicting orders, said "Yes, Tool" a lot, and got out of there.
-
"Oh yeah?" The bank building came into view, and the two [[Decrypted]] [[Piker]]s at the door of it snapped to attention.
+
One thing he never volunteered in these meetings was that the bracer gave a 78% likelihood that there was something fishy going on with the lack of Gobwins and prevalence of Marbits.  
-
"Well perhaps I am mistaken, and I am surely well out of line in asking, but have you really had ''no'' intimate contact with any of the [[Archon]]s? Are you celibate, Lord?"
+
And if there was, then there was a better than 92% chance that the agency behind it was [[Charlescomm]].
-
Parson stopped in his tracks. Yeah. That would be one of those kick-your-ass sentences. "Hold that thought," he said tersely.
+
If Stanley knew that, he might go after [[Charlie|Charley]] immediately. Parson couldn't think of a worse idea. If you had a guy like Charley undermining you for some reason, you did not let on that you knew about it. The thing to do was to figure out what Charley's game was, and play him from there. Stanley couldn't do that.
-
They crossed the remaining ground to the bank. Maggie followed Parson inside. They walked across the empty common area, with its bare desks and cabinets. Parson peeked in the empty vault, then they walked back and out without a word.
+
Parson wasn't sure he could either. But if he wanted to try, he was going to have to take [[Maggie]]'s advice and talk to Wanda's Archons.
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About a block away from the bank, Parson said, "Sorry. I didn't feel like talking about that in front of Wanda's dudes."
+
Oh boy.
-
She cleared her throat. "I see, Lord. But they are ''your'' 'dudes,' are they not? Certainly they are ''our'' dudes."
+
It had been several weeks since he'd asked any of the Archons to go with him on [[Regent|rounds]]. Besides the Gobwin problem, Parson had developed a laundry list of other questions about Charley during his strategy sessions with [[Jack Snipe|Jack]]. But he'd been putting off taking those questions to the Archons because, well...
-
"Um, I'm not completely sure," said Parson, frowning and looking back over his shoulder. "From what I can tell, they're like the [[dwagon]]s are with [[Stanley the Tool|Stanley]]. They're loyal to the [[Arkenpliers|'pliers]], and therefore to [[Wanda Firebaugh|Cruella]] herself. For all I know, she can see through their eyes and hear what they hear. But if not, they'll prob'ly just tell her anything interesting when they can."
+
His dealings with these perfect little [[flying unit|flying]] women had started out awkward, and only gone downhill from there.  
-
Maggie nodded affirmatively, "Ahhh. I see. In that light, your reluctance to approach the Archons for... ''that'' sort of thing is perfectly understandable. Sorry to have brought it up, Lord."
+
The Archons shared a barracks-style accommodation that took up half of the second-topmost floor of the tower. It was like a sorority house in there. Two dozen bunk beds, each separated by white curtains, took up the space nearest the main wall. The center of the room was walled off as a kitchen/larder/dining area, and the rest was a commons area with at least as good a view as Stanley's office. Large double-plated windows on all sides could be pulled inward, allowing direct access to and from the city's airspace. The Archons kept it all neat and tidy.
-
He nodded. They walked on for a bit. He knew he should leave it at that. Really, really should. But...
+
The first time Parson had gone up to visit them, it was like walking into an 80s sex comedy. It was nighttime, and they were all wearing satin pajamas and teddies. A couple of them were walking around in less. Some of them were actually pillow fighting. They were all enthusiastically happy to see him.
-
"It's not just that," Parson said. He stopped, and turned to look at her. "Yes, Wanda looking out of some Archon's eyes? That is... an extremely creepy thought. But it's really not what skeeves me out about it. It's more like..."
+
He'd watched a season or two of "Beauty and the Geek," which was a reality show in which a group of socially hopeless nerds share a mansion with a group of intellectually hopeless hotties. In the first show, each contestant must walk into a room, alone, with the whole opposite group.
-
He struggled for how to put it. Maggie was a kung fu master of the neutral expression, but Parson had played a lot of poker. He could see the tiniest little smile around her eyes. It meant she was enjoying this conversation way too much.
+
He couldn't remember if any of the Geeks had done worse with the Beauties than he did with the Archons that night, but he didn't think so. He was pretty sure at one point that the word "hummina" literally came out of his mouth. Literally. Weak.
-
"Okay well it's like... what I was saying before. I've never had that power before, and I don't know how I feel about it. If I understand things right, I could just like, [[order]] an Archon to take off her clothes and drop to her knees. And she'd do it, right?"
+
They'd taken him by the arm and shown him around, but it never got anything like comfortable in there. He'd tried to explain that he was up there to find a volunteer or two to accompany him on his rounds the next turn and talk strategy or whatever.
-
Maggie's eyes did something entirely different this time, they sort of flashed. "An Archon, or any [[unit]], Lord."
+
He then spent fifteen minutes trying to explain the concept of "volunteer."  
-
"Okay well... it doesn't work like that where I'm from," said Parson uncomfortably. "We actually have laws against that... against people in power taking advantage of their underlings or whatever. For that. I mean I seriously would not have expected to react this way to this situation, but it feels ''wrong'' to me."
+
Charlie didn't do "volunteer." Wanda certainly didn't. Nobody asked for volunteers in [[Erfworld]]. You [[order]]ed your units or you didn't.
-
Maggie smiled at him, her eyes crinkling. "What an utterly alien thing to think. But also, utterly charming."
+
And with that, he suddenly got struck with the creepiness of it. As they'd gathered around him in their lingerie and hung on his every word, he had started to entertain the idea that their friendliness to him might mean they... liked him? Were interested in him? Wanted him? And they were so impossibly hot. Short and small, yes. But women. Women built like little Playboy models. God.
-
"Graah. C'mon," Parson said, and continued up the avenue. They turned the corner at Maggie Street (the name had led to an interesting discussion on an earlier outing), and he saw the street was clear of Decrypted. "Y'know maybe if one of them was actually interested in me... But even then, I've got another problem. One that probably trumps the other two."
+
But the idea that they might want him was right out the tower window when he realized what "no volunteers" really implied. "Want" didn't enter into it. He could order them to perform any sick, twisted, perverted, demented... awesome act he wanted to. Erfworld had suddenly given him a gift to fill the awful gaping hole in his existence where internet pr0n had once lived.
-
Maggie's tone darkened. "I see, Lord. Are you unable?"
+
And he knew, he knew it was wrong. And completely, completely not what he wanted. There wasn't a way they really could volunteer to be with him. He had absolute power, as their [[warlord]]. He also had no power to be anything but their warlord. They scared him. His power over them scared him even more.
-
"No! Jesus!" shouted Parson, throwing up his hands. "I'm talking about compatibility. Physical compatibility."
+
In the end, he'd just decided to appoint a couple of them at random and gtfo. The next day, he couldn't think of much to say to the two he had picked.
-
Maggie's laugh echoed down the street.
+
He did try again a week or so later when he had his nerve up. That somehow went even worse.
-
"What, seriously?"
+
And now, here he stood again. It was another two flights up from Stanley's office to the oaken double doors of the Archons' barracks. They were shut up tight, but over the bare crackle of the magic torches in the wall, he thought he could hear faint giggling.
-
"Maggie I'm about twice the size of everybody here," he said to her, in earnest. "What if I... can't? What if I, y'know hurt her?"
+
"I can face the peril," Parson muttered, letting out a deep long breath, "I can spank the peril."
-
Maggie laughed again. "What if you cleave her in twain with your mighty broadsword?" she giggled. "What if your siege-ram is.. is too grand for the gates?" Her giggle fit continued until she calmed herself with a deep, grinning breath. "Oh. All men exaggerate their stats, Lord. You all imagine a weapon [[bonus]] that isn't there. If you ''do'' break her like a... [[wildlife|feral]] [[mount]] of some sort, then I suppose she'll heal fully at dawn. But the memories will last her a lifetime."
+
He sucked in his gut and knocked on the door.
-
 
+
-
She took his arm at the elbow and smirked up at him. They continued together down the street. "I will be very busy next turn, Lord. Why don't you ask an Archon or two to accompany your rounds tomorrow?"
+
[[Category:Page Annotation/First Intermission]]
[[Category:Page Annotation/First Intermission]]

Revision as of 10:35, 22 October 2009

Book (First_Intermission)
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Turn Number:47 AW
Side's Turn:Gobwin Knob

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Turns since TBfGK: 38

By his own choice, Parson had taken up residence in one of the little houses near the Garrison, at the corner of Thin Mint and Moe. It worked better than his tower quarters for rounds, and Stanley was less likely to drop by and bug him. But it did mean that getting called to The Tool's office for an ass-chewing always involved a long slog and a million stairs. That was the trade-off, and it was inevitable.

The new Tower of Efdup was nicely decorated and brightly lit. Parson thought it was kind of stuffy and fru-fru, but an improvement over the creepy-ass one with the body parts theme. It was possible to walk through the carpeted hallways and marble staircases without feeling stared at, or in danger of being groped by a light fixture.

Today, he had reached Stanley's office without even getting all that winded. His legs were tightening up, and some of the double folds in his gut were becoming singles again. As a deeply wise man named Hamstard had once said... hawt.

The Tool had wanted to bitch about the usual: their situation with natural allies.

It was a weird problem. All the Gobwins and Hobgobwins were croaked in the eruption, of course. Wanda decrypted most of those, but they no longer counted as a separate tribe. They were just units of Gobwin Knob's side now.

As tribes, natural allies could pop new units if they had extra Schmuckers. So Stanley had used the intervening turns and a notable chunk of the treasury to repopulate the Hobgobwin tribe from the lone remaining Knight to around two hundred units, about forty or fifty of them Knights. But there were no Gobwins in Gobwin Knob.

And for some reason, they couldn't find any, anywhere.

Sizemore had been busy, sending out parties of tunnel-capable units to look below ground. Many of the nearby mountain hexes had tunnel systems, and it would have been normal to find a feral Gobwin tribe mining for upkeep in there somewhere. They had found only a lot of Marbits, though, and Marbits and Elves would not ally with a side that used Gobwins, Hobgobwins, Witches or Daemons.

His bracer put it at a 98 percent chance that the Archons should have spotted some Gobwins in the mountains or Sizemore found some below ground by now. They'd either rolled a critical fumble, or something weird was going on.

Stanley blamed Parson of course, because of the volcano. Parson had stopped arguing that point (or any) with Stanley, if he could help it. He simply shrugged his way through another pointless meeting about it, got some dumb and conflicting orders, said "Yes, Tool" a lot, and got out of there.

One thing he never volunteered in these meetings was that the bracer gave a 78% likelihood that there was something fishy going on with the lack of Gobwins and prevalence of Marbits.

And if there was, then there was a better than 92% chance that the agency behind it was Charlescomm.

If Stanley knew that, he might go after Charley immediately. Parson couldn't think of a worse idea. If you had a guy like Charley undermining you for some reason, you did not let on that you knew about it. The thing to do was to figure out what Charley's game was, and play him from there. Stanley couldn't do that.

Parson wasn't sure he could either. But if he wanted to try, he was going to have to take Maggie's advice and talk to Wanda's Archons.

Oh boy.

It had been several weeks since he'd asked any of the Archons to go with him on rounds. Besides the Gobwin problem, Parson had developed a laundry list of other questions about Charley during his strategy sessions with Jack. But he'd been putting off taking those questions to the Archons because, well...

His dealings with these perfect little flying women had started out awkward, and only gone downhill from there.

The Archons shared a barracks-style accommodation that took up half of the second-topmost floor of the tower. It was like a sorority house in there. Two dozen bunk beds, each separated by white curtains, took up the space nearest the main wall. The center of the room was walled off as a kitchen/larder/dining area, and the rest was a commons area with at least as good a view as Stanley's office. Large double-plated windows on all sides could be pulled inward, allowing direct access to and from the city's airspace. The Archons kept it all neat and tidy.

The first time Parson had gone up to visit them, it was like walking into an 80s sex comedy. It was nighttime, and they were all wearing satin pajamas and teddies. A couple of them were walking around in less. Some of them were actually pillow fighting. They were all enthusiastically happy to see him.

He'd watched a season or two of "Beauty and the Geek," which was a reality show in which a group of socially hopeless nerds share a mansion with a group of intellectually hopeless hotties. In the first show, each contestant must walk into a room, alone, with the whole opposite group.

He couldn't remember if any of the Geeks had done worse with the Beauties than he did with the Archons that night, but he didn't think so. He was pretty sure at one point that the word "hummina" literally came out of his mouth. Literally. Weak.

They'd taken him by the arm and shown him around, but it never got anything like comfortable in there. He'd tried to explain that he was up there to find a volunteer or two to accompany him on his rounds the next turn and talk strategy or whatever.

He then spent fifteen minutes trying to explain the concept of "volunteer."

Charlie didn't do "volunteer." Wanda certainly didn't. Nobody asked for volunteers in Erfworld. You ordered your units or you didn't.

And with that, he suddenly got struck with the creepiness of it. As they'd gathered around him in their lingerie and hung on his every word, he had started to entertain the idea that their friendliness to him might mean they... liked him? Were interested in him? Wanted him? And they were so impossibly hot. Short and small, yes. But women. Women built like little Playboy models. God.

But the idea that they might want him was right out the tower window when he realized what "no volunteers" really implied. "Want" didn't enter into it. He could order them to perform any sick, twisted, perverted, demented... awesome act he wanted to. Erfworld had suddenly given him a gift to fill the awful gaping hole in his existence where internet pr0n had once lived.

And he knew, he knew it was wrong. And completely, completely not what he wanted. There wasn't a way they really could volunteer to be with him. He had absolute power, as their warlord. He also had no power to be anything but their warlord. They scared him. His power over them scared him even more.

In the end, he'd just decided to appoint a couple of them at random and gtfo. The next day, he couldn't think of much to say to the two he had picked.

He did try again a week or so later when he had his nerve up. That somehow went even worse.

And now, here he stood again. It was another two flights up from Stanley's office to the oaken double doors of the Archons' barracks. They were shut up tight, but over the bare crackle of the magic torches in the wall, he thought he could hear faint giggling.

"I can face the peril," Parson muttered, letting out a deep long breath, "I can spank the peril."

He sucked in his gut and knocked on the door.

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