First Intermission 44

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{{pager int|44|First_Intermission}}
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''Art by [http://celebrenithil.deviantart.com/ CelebrenIthil]''
'''Turns since TBfGK: 38'''
'''Turns since TBfGK: 38'''
-
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.
+
"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.  
-
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.
+
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.  
-
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.
+
"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."
-
The Tool had wanted to bitch about the usual: their situation with [[natural allies]].
+
"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]]."
-
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.
+
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.  
-
As tribes, natural allies could [[pop]] new units if they had extra [[Shmucker|Schmuckers]]. 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.  
+
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.
-
And for some reason, they couldn't find any, anywhere.
+
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?"
-
[[Sizemore Rockwell|Sizemore]] had been busy, sending out parties of tunnel-capable units to look below ground. Many of the nearby [[mountains|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, [[Witches]] or [[Daemon]]s.
+
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."
-
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.
+
"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?
-
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.
+
"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."
-
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.  
+
"Oh yeah?" The bank building came into view, and the two [[Decrypted]] [[Piker]]s at the door of it snapped to attention.
-
And if there was, then there was a better than 92% chance that the agency behind it was [[Charlescomm]].
+
"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?"
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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.
+
Parson stopped in his tracks. Yeah. That would be one of those kick-your-ass sentences. "Hold that thought," he said tersely.
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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.
+
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.
-
Oh boy.
+
About a block away from the bank, Parson said, "Sorry. I didn't feel like talking about that in front of Wanda's 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...
+
She cleared her throat. "I see, Lord. But they are ''your'' 'dudes,' are they not? Certainly they are ''our'' dudes."
-
His dealings with these perfect little [[flying unit|flying]] women had started out awkward, and only gone downhill from there.  
+
"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]]{{ref|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."
-
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.
+
Maggie nodded affirmatively, "Ahhh. I see. In that light, your reluctance to approach the [[Archon]]s for... ''that'' sort of thing is perfectly understandable. Sorry to have brought it up, Lord."
-
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 nodded. They walked on for a bit. He knew he should leave it at that. Really, really should. But...
-
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.
+
"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 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.
+
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.
-
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.
+
"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?"
-
He then spent fifteen minutes trying to explain the concept of "volunteer."  
+
Maggie's eyes did something entirely different this time, they sort of flashed. "An Archon, or any [[unit]], Lord."
-
Charlie didn't do "volunteer." Wanda certainly didn't. Nobody asked for volunteers in [[Erfworld]]. You [[order]]ed your units or you didn't.
+
"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."
-
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.
+
Maggie smiled at him, her eyes crinkling. "What an utterly alien thing to think. But also, utterly charming."
-
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.
+
"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."
-
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.
+
Maggie's tone darkened. "I see, Lord. Are you unable?"
-
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.
+
"No! Jesus!" shouted Parson, throwing up his hands. "I'm talking about compatibility. Physical compatibility."
-
He did try again a week or so later when he had his nerve up. That somehow went even worse.
+
Maggie's laugh echoed down the street.
-
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.
+
"What, seriously?"
-
"I can face the peril," Parson muttered, letting out a deep long breath, "I can spank the peril."
+
"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?"
-
He sucked in his gut and knocked on the door.
+
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."
 +
 
 +
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?"
 +
 
 +
----
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===Notes===
 +
#{{note|Cruella}}A reference to the villainess [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruella_de_Vil Cruella de Vil] from ''101 Dalmatians''.
[[Category:Page Annotation/First Intermission]]
[[Category:Page Annotation/First Intermission]]

Revision as of 21:07, 27 March 2012

Book (First_Intermission)
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Page Info

Turn Number:47 AW
Side's Turn:Gobwin Knob

Art by CelebrenIthil

Turns since TBfGK: 38

"I didn't think I was much of a 'routine' guy," Parson said to Maggie, as they reached the corner of Whopper and Smithers.

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 Twolls make street signs and numbers for the building fronts.

"But honestly, I'm settling into this. Breakfast, do rounds, lunch, do sims with Jack, dinner, read in the library, or hang out with Sizemore and talk magic. It's kinda nice. Needs weekends, but it's not bad."

"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, Lord."

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.

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.

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?"

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."

"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'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 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?

"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."

"Oh yeah?" The bank building came into view, and the two Decrypted Pikers at the door of it snapped to attention.

"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 Archons? Are you celibate, Lord?"

Parson stopped in his tracks. Yeah. That would be one of those kick-your-ass sentences. "Hold that thought," he said tersely.

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.

About a block away from the bank, Parson said, "Sorry. I didn't feel like talking about that in front of Wanda's dudes."

She cleared her throat. "I see, Lord. But they are your 'dudes,' are they not? Certainly they are our dudes."

"Um, I'm not completely sure," said Parson, frowning and looking back over his shoulder. "From what I can tell, they're like the dwagons are with Stanley. They're loyal to the 'pliers, and therefore to Cruella[1] 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."

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."

He nodded. They walked on for a bit. He knew he should leave it at that. Really, really should. But...

"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 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.

"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?"

Maggie's eyes did something entirely different this time, they sort of flashed. "An Archon, or any unit, Lord."

"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."

Maggie smiled at him, her eyes crinkling. "What an utterly alien thing to think. But also, utterly charming."

"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."

Maggie's tone darkened. "I see, Lord. Are you unable?"

"No! Jesus!" shouted Parson, throwing up his hands. "I'm talking about compatibility. Physical compatibility."

Maggie's laugh echoed down the street.

"What, seriously?"

"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?"

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... feral mount of some sort, then I suppose she'll heal fully at dawn. But the memories will last her a lifetime."

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?"


Notes

  1. ^ A reference to the villainess Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians.
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