Caligula's Legacy, Part 4
Enemy in the hex
The sudden knowledge dropped like a lead ball into Megan's mind; and she could see it reflected in the faces of the other warlords and casters as well.
"Oh yeah!" said Rainbow, charging straight out towards the front gate - where a midnight-black flying mount/warlord hovered.
"Dash, no!" called Fluttershy. "She's five times your level!"
"MY DEAR LITTLE PONIES!" thundered the dark warlord. Megan recognised her at once - Nightmare Moon, the traitor, the Chief Warlord who had turned, hundreds of turns ago. "I come to offer you a choice! You - all of you, casters, citizens, warlords - you have the option to turn to the side of Moon. I shall return in one turn's time! On my return, any who have not turned will be annihilated!"
It was at this point that Dash, leading a max stack of flying stabbers, reached her and launched a strong, but ultimately foolhardy melee attack. Nightmare Moon's horn burst with shockamancy, knocking them from the sky before they could lay a spear on her. This was followed by a spate of archery from all the archery-capable units in the hex, led by Megan; but she evaded almost all their arrows with contemptuous ease.
"I have over two hundred Moon Twolls a mere three hexes away!" called out the enemy warlord. "You have one turn. Turn, or this night shall be your last!" And with that ultimatum, she spun about, and left the hex.
"Welp." Pinkie Pie reached into her hair and pulled out a scroll. "It's time, then."
"Time for what?" asked Megan.There was a complete, slightly shocked silence among the gathered warlords.
"You didn't tell her?" asked Rainbow.
"She said she'd been briefed!" argued Twilight.
"Didn't tell me what?" asked Megan.
Pinkie cleared her throat. "On the thousandth Turn of Celestia's reign, the stars shall aid in her escape, and she shall win a great victory."
"She?" I asked. "You mean Nightmare Moon?"
Pinkie nodded. "Great victory. Nightmare Moon. Tomorrow. Completely predicted and unavoidable."
"So... we're all going to die tomorrow?"
"Nope," said Pinkie. "Princess Celestia found a loophole in the prophecy. It doesn't say who she'd win a great victory for. So, all we have to do is persuade her to Turn back to us before the end of the night, and the great victory will be against that giant force of Moon Twolls. And... whatever else they have. She just has to Turn before dawn, so she can move enough to stack with out troops, and everything will be all hunky-dory!"
"I don't know whether you noticed," said Megan coldly, "but it's not our turn. And it won't be until after dawn tomorrow."
"Hence the scroll!" Pinkie waved it. "Bought it in the Magic Kingdom two months ago. From a Turnamancer-Carnymancer-Thinkamancer link, so boy was it expensive. This scroll grants, to one stack, of up to seven units, the ability to regain any Move unused at the end of their last turn, and to use said Move off-turn."
"So..." Megan paused to consider the implications. "One stack. Facing off against two hundred Moon Twolls, and whatever else they have in their attacking forces, with the intent of getting the warlord in charge of it all to turn?"
"Yeppers!" nodded Pinkie.
"Do you have any Turnamancy scrolls in there?"
"Does anyone have any Turnamancy scrolls? Turnamancy artifacts? Anything?"
"None of us, darling," said Rarity."How do any of you think we even have a chance?" asked Megan.
"We'll be a led stack, of course," said Pinkie. "And -" she nodded at Twilight - "veiled. We'll just sneak past those moon twolls, very, very quietly - we'll find Nightmare Moon a few hexes beyond them, in the ruins of the old Everfree City... and she's guarding the Elements of Harmony - the Turnamancy artifact that Moon used on her in the first place. Which she's planning to use on us casters."
Pinkie grinned. "I so Predict it."
Plothole: If Megan handles all inter-side interaction to obscure the fact that the side is led by almost entirely mounts, and none of the other units (save Twilight due to Foolamancy) can communicate with anyone but each other because they don't speak standard Erfworld Language, how did Pinkie buy the scroll in the first place?
Eh, I don't think communication is much of an issue when you manage to get accross that you have a lot of money and are willing to spend it.
The thinkamancer can just spend a bit of juice to read your thoughts/do a shortrange thinkagram, so no need for verbal language, and the carny could propably mess with the rules that forbid you speaking language or him understanding yours.
Re: shopping, I love what Malfallax said, and I wish I could post a 3-panel comic of pinkie pie tossing a coin on a market table and taking an apple or something, but this'll have to do instead: http://i450.photobucket.com/albums/qq223/MustBeJewel/AllMyBits.gif
Crisis21: There's no secret to the fact of caster mounts. The only trouble with them is that, with the exception of the brand-new Foolamancer (who hasn't even been to the Magic Kingdom yet, and can therefore be ignored) they can't speak Language.
This means that they can't negotiate with enemy sides.
Megan, on the other hand, is a Warlord who can speak Language, and she can thus negotiate. However, since she is a warlord and not a caster, she cannot enter the Magic Kingdom.
Now, it's not impossible for someone who enters the Magic Kingdom, while unable to speak Language, to hire a caster. There are a number of ways that can be done. One could, for example, hire a Thinkamancer to provide translation; Rarity could draw up a set of duds just full of Signamancy for "I'm willing to pay a lot for simple Signamancy work with no risk" and wander around a bit where the Signamancers gather, tossing a bag of Schmuckers (or Rands, Applejack and Rarity can easily pick some of those up spending juice in the Hippiemancer's Glade) up and down until someone accepts; a Carnymancer could break the language rules; a Wierdomancer could probably give a caster mount the temporary ability to speak Language. If you've got enough cash, and are willing to spend it, a language barrier is not insurmountable in the Magic Kingdom - and, of course, once they have hired a caster, they can communicate with that caster through perfectly legitimate Orders, even Ordering that caster to try to hire others (providing, of course, the necessary Schmuckers with which to do so).
None of those communication methods work when trying to negotiate a peace deal with a strong neighbouring side. The normal response to "we need to hire one of your warlords to negotiate on our behalf" would be something along the lines of "if you don't want peace, why are you wasting our time? Troops! Attack!" - which is why Megan's negotiation skills are so important to her Side.