Money Makes the World Go Round - Part 1

The day dawned. That, in and of itself, was not so odd, days dawned, turns passed, and the Magic Kingdom barely noticed, as those who made their home here, in the center of peaceful learning, went about another day. For some, the dawning awakened them. Carnymancers in their carts coming out to set up their shops and hawk their wares to each other, while the Dirtimancers in the Dirtimansion woke to the feeling of warm earth beneath their feet, the few masters of their craft putting their foot down and tiling the earth around them.

 

For those who lived in the Gild Hall, the day began as the first rays of the sun shown at the top of its high walls. A massive diamond, whose worth would have been the bankrupting of entire Sides, caught the light, and funneled it to the rooms of the masters first, waking them with a few shimmers, then to all the others who made the Hall their home. Each one a Moneymancer, each awakening to the glimmer of their walls, some to simple lacquered wood, while others to solid gold shine, and the masters to gems, encrusted into those walls to make them sparkle all the greater.

 

This day, the one known as Drachma awoke to find himself alone, as he often did. The night before, a lovely lady had shared his bed, a wide, powerful woman, a Healomancer who’s gentle hands had helped ease the pain in his arm. Thinking of it, the white haired Moneymancer rubbed at the steel limb, feeling it and using his magic to value it down to the last Shmucker. Satisfied as he could be with the device, the man began to walk, leaving his chamber and moving out into the light.

 

Around him, those Adepts and Novices who practiced the trade of Moneymancy, who tried like himself to become Masters of the art, were already hard at work. Some were using Shmuckers given to them by their teachers to convert into goods, others were judging the values of gems, trying to guess its worth, and then beaming or drooping as they guessed right or wrong, before another set was placed before them. The older man walked between them, a few deferring head tilts to him as he passed.

 

Just as he left the lands of Money, for the Neutral, his rations popped. Like everything else, from his robes to his arm, the rations that Drachma had were gold in color. In this case, a very expensive looking goblet appeared in his hand, and as he twirled it around, sniffing at the contents, one caught sight of liquid gold in the cup, that the old man began to sip from. A drop or two were lost in his beard, white as snow, and covering most of his face, but for the most part, he downed the drink, Ambrosia, in a few quick swallows, barely tasting the sweet draught, before tossing the cup away.

 

He barely noticed as a Luckamancer caught the thing in his hands, his eyes bugging out at the cost of the container, one that would pay the lads upkeep for a few tenturns at least. Drachma, pulling his robes tighter around him, noticed only one thing. A Predictamancer, one whom he recognized, waiting for him. The old man harrumphed at the sight of her,  wondering if she was yet ready to meet his price, but when he saw that desperate, pleading look in her eyes, he felt curious, and so walked forward.

 

“Mahstah Drachma,” she said, in that odd accent of her’s. The woman, with her dark skin and pale green robes, seemed downtrodden, like a side she liked had fallen, and it made Drachma nervous, as he nodded in recognition.

 

“Marie. It is early yet for you to make your plea to me,” commented the old man, running his still living hand through his white hair. As he did so, he spent a bit from his purse, using juice to convert the Shmuckers directly into a tie for his hair, giving him a dashing look to him, with a ponytail and an eyepatch that, along with his mechanical arm, made some call him The Pirate.

 

“It is, but Fate moves quickar than Ah realized,” she told him, and Drachma had to wonder how Fate could sneak up on one who saw its course. Closing his eyes, the Moneymancer tried to remember if there was anything important to happen today, and then snapped his fingers as it came to him.

 

“There’s to be a battle, one involving that Side you’re so interested in,” he said at last, as a statement of fact, and she nodded.

 

“Gobwin Knob is to fight Jetstone. Already forces meet at a bridge, and I fear much will change this day,” she said, and Drachma closed his eyes again, imagining it now. Gobwin Knob, that Side had been fluctuating a lot lately, but he only took a small spell to know they were the richer of the two Sides in that fight. All of the Royal Crown Coalition II sides together barely came within sight of their treasury, and with the units they had, well, it wasn’t even going to be a real fight.

 

“Hmm, you would not come to me to gloat, it is not how you are, so I can only guess that, despite all the advantages, something will go wrong,” he said, and again she nodded, pointing towards an orange portal. Charlie’s Portal.

 

“Ah, that does change the equation a bit,” said Drachma. While his sense of a Side’s worth was frustratingly vague at times, he knew Charlie had to be the richest side in all of Erfworld. In fact, it was probably richer than just about every other side put together, give or take a few million shmuckers.

 

“I don’t know specifics, but I know something will be done today, something monumental, that will change everything. I want to control that change, I want to shift it towards something better,” she said, and it was the Moneymancer’s turn to nod. He didn’t disagree after all. While he was no Hippie, to believe that peace was possible, he was very much of the opinion that open war was far too costly to keep going as it was. Sides rose and fell in too few turns to really achieve anything.

 

“My price remains, are you willing to pay it?” he asked, and the ebony skinned woman sucked in air through her teeth.

 

“This change, it could hurt the Kingdom, I have foreseen it, but there is a branching path. Should you aid me, I can make the path the easier one,” she offered, a counter to his own request, and he considered it. So many, so very many casters in the Magic Kingdom considered Marie a failure, given she was a Predictamancer who never seemed to be able to sell her services, and often times dealt with the Hippies for her upkeep.

 

Drachma knew different. He’d done the calculations time and again. His fortunes, which already dwarfed entire Sides, could be made so much grander with her help. He could become the richest unit on Erf. But it would require her to work with him permanently to maintain that sort of gain. She refused him, and he accepted that, settling himself down as simply the richest Unit in the Kingdom, but if what she said was true...Too many unknowns and variables.

 

“You pinkie swear, you do no lie?” he asked, holding up the digit, and Marie quickly grasped his finger, the magics of the two coiling together, and then settling, as that simple bit of natural magic told him she at least believed her words to be truth.

 

“Disturbing,” was all he said.

 

“I would ask your aid. I need an item, one capable of ending an Inferno, and healing the Units touched by flame,” she said, and Drachma nodded.

 

“Simple enough, how large should the effect be?” he asked.

 

“Enough to cover a Capital Hex, if possible,” she said as simply as she could, and Drachma barked out a laugh, his old lungs pushing the air around so the sound echoed over the whole of Portal Park. His eyes teared up a little, as the amusement of the request rattled around inside his brain. Marie, for her part, took his mockery with a stern face, and when he could stand up straight again, he looked her in the eyes.

 

“Such in item is worth far more than most sides. Even for one such as me, it is not an easy investment. What would I get for this?” he asked, opening her up for a counter offer.

 

“I would introduce you to a man of interest, the one responsible for Gobwin Knob’s rise,” she said, and Drachma wasn’t laughing.

 

“I thought their Croakamancer was a woman,” he said at last, and it was Marie’s turn to laugh, a much more subtle, but also far more dangerous thing.

 

“Not her, their Chief Warlord from the Battle for Gobwin Knob. Parson, the Warlord who can pass thru portals,” she said, and that got the old man’s interest, as he considered the offer. It was interesting, but was it worth it? His magic refused to tell him, as if this Parson person was somehow beyond the touch of Fate magic, and after running all the numbers he could, he spent a little Juice, and conjured a coin in his hand.

 

“A contest, then. Call the coin in the air. If Fate guides you true, I’ll give you the item. If false, you will face this on your own,” he offered, and Marie, considering it herself for a heartbeat, nodded. Smirking, the Moneymancer flipped the coin.

 

“He-Tails!” she shouted, almost saying one, like Fate wanted her to say it, but then changing to the other just before it landed, crunching some of the grass of the park as it settled. There, looking down, the two Casters could see the Flame facing up. Tails it was, and a moment later, Marie was holding in her hands a gem of deep blue, and was told all she had to do was toss it at the flames, and they would reverse themselves. So Fate goes, as the Moneymancer sat back to watch the Turn play out.

 

(Next Chapter: http://www.erfworld.com/blog/view/50335/money-makes-the-world-go-round-part-2)