One small step - part 1

Sir Ian Zick Newt sat in the shade of an apple tree, feeling decidedly unhappy.


He was a mathmancer. He had a deeper understanding of reality than most units, but that did not help him understand Erfworld. Also, his head hurt.


Since he was popped, I. Zick (as the court called him) was obsessed with understanding the world around him. When he was young, he was sure his failing were due to his own inexperience. He was sure that once he leveled enough, the universe will open it's secrets for him like a flower at sundown. Fiddlesticks!!! He was no a master Mathmancer, a level 9, but was even further from understanding the world then the day he was popped


It was a shock to discover that mathmancy isn't the magic of math. Math is a beautiful thing, there is no doubt about that. Since most units don't understand math, they think it magical by itself. They are wrong - Mathematics are a useful but ultimately abstract set of rules. There was no need for juice to solve mathematical equations - all it took was time and talent,


When he was young, he thought magical mathmancy was all about the brute-force calculations, using juice to turn the hypothetical into practical, Later, he thought the spells were giving him insight into higher mathematics. Only lately, after becoming a master, he understood the truth: Mathmancy was the magic of probabilities. Mathematics were a useful but insufficient tool - a lot of the rules of the world were arbitrary, and more often variables were unknown. A master mathmancer could sift the debry of possible to find the nugget of the probable, and determine the best course of action, but could not always explain even to himself how he came to his conclusion.


When he was young, he was fascinated with flying. Long and hard he pondered: How did dwagons fly? He could describe with beautiful simplicity the volume of air under the wing, and find how much was displaced per second. Logic dictated that if anything displaced this volume of air per second, and weighed less then a dwagon, he vould fly.


To his ballasting sorrow he told his friend Ignotius Carus, the court's Changamancer, about his theory. Ignatius seemed fascinated by it. He would talk and talk about mechanisms that could lift any unit and turn their entire army to airborne army. I.Zick thought this was only idle banter, but Ignotious decided to act on his dreams. He built a pair of mechanical wings, capable of twice the air flow as a dwagon's, and made sure that he weighed less then one even when strapped to them. Then he went to the tallest spire to test his work.


I. Zick saw him on the parapet, and with a flash of intuition ran screaming to stop him. Unfortunately, the chances of Ignotious hearing his voice were as low as his chances to survive.


The lesson was clear. In this world, just because something in logical, doesn't mean it's true.


To make matters worse, his head really hurt. He sat under the apple tree for some shade in the noon sun, and an apple fell and hit his head. Hard! Why did this even happen? The only reason apples need to be removed from the tree is for foraging - normally they just de-pop. Why should one fall on it's own? What are even the odds of an apple falling down on his head?


50%?! That can't be right!!!


After applying a fair amount of juice, I.Zick was forced to admit - the chances of a ripe apple falling and hitting him in the head while resting under the tree was 50%. Strange, but true.


What about if it was just a random unit, resting under the tree? 10%. A lot less, but still s sizable chance,




What are the chances of an apple falling on the head of someone walking under the tree? Hmm - negligible. What about someone walking under a forest of apple trees? 0.1%?!


OK, this is strange. What's the chances of an apple hitting the head of a unit resting under the tree for half an hour? 10%. What about a unit walking under the trees. taking 30 minutes to walk the distance, while under the trees at all this time? Still 0.1%.


I. Zick spent the next hour doing all the simulations on apples he could think about, but eventually his juice was depleted and he was forced to return home. His mood, elevated suddenly by this new puzzle, returnes to it's sundued baseline. He made his way to his austere chambers, decorated sparsely with a few choice formulae and a picture of a rainbow, and laid down for some serious moping, At least that was the plan, but the noise from the adjoining rooms kept interfering with his intentions.


I. Zick roused himself and strode outside, and banged on his neighbor's door until the noise subsided, The door opened, and the head of the side's Rhyme-o-mancer, Anthony the Kid, was framed by door and the eldritch fumes escaping through it.


"Hi, man! How are you? Care to jam?!" said Anthony, seemingly oblivious to I. Zick's scowl.


"No, you blithering idiot! I'm trying to meditate on a problem, and your infernal racket makes it impposible!" I. Zick shouted, happy to vent some of his anger, especially on this poor excuse for a caster.


"Bummer, man, Bummer...Hey, if you want to meditate I've got this croaker incense..."


"No thank you! Some peace and quite will be quite enough! I have a problem to solve."


"Cool, man, cool...I'l mellow down. What's the problem that's bugging you?"


I. Zick suddenly seemed embarrassed. "Well, if you must know...Why do apples fall on your head if you're resting under the tree, but not if you're just walking under it?"


Anthony's face split with a grin. "Easy, man! It's 'cause it's funny!"


I. Zick's breath seemed to stop. "Because it's funny?!"


Anthony laughed, oblivious to the shocked mathmancer in front of him. "Yeah, man! Frivolity City!!" and still laughing closed the door and went inside his room.


I zick stood on the doorstep, stunned. It all made so much sense! It was so beautiful! Stories were one of the major forces of erfworld, for what is Fate if not a story unfolding? And the better the story, the stronger the chances events will unfold accordingly. Mundane, boring, number-crunching sides had no chance against the rise of epic and dramatic ones. Even his Ignatious's demise could be seen as a part of a story.


He was without juice, but even using only math he could see this new force - Narrativium - and it's wide spread influence. It was his Fate to discover it, and show it to the world. It may take the rest of his turns, but for the first time, I. Zick felt as if he was realizing his long forgotten dream - to understand erfworld.


Next part - The Engines Go Rolling Along