Money Makes the World Go Round - Part 8
(Previous Chapter: http://www.erfworld.com/blog/view/50448/money-makes-the-world-go-round-part-7)
The turn passed slowly as supplies were gathered, and preparations were made to send the Warlords out. Parson went over each step of their journey with Ansom, detailing precisely how he wanted him to land when they got to the hex just outside FAQ’s capital, and then going over contingencies, just in case Charlie had something up his sleeve none of them had thought of. When that was done, he and the Casters were left alone in the tower top, with Stanley and the five surviving decrypted Archons going out on excursions to gain more Dwagons.
“Alright, Maggie, Jack, let’s do this,” he ordered at last, and the two nodded, Jack offering Maggie his hand, and soon enough their eyes glowed, slowly joining their minds and magics as one, reducing the Juice cost of the thinkagram, while also opening up whole new sets of datapoints as they slowly pointed their free hands forward, and began to project an image, which resolved quickly into Tramennis, in full color, sitting on his throne.
“Hmm, now, isn’t this interesting,” he said as the connection completed itself, letting him see them in almost the same resolution as they were him, if without the stats displaying next to him. The stats were those Parson had written down earlier, with a bit more detail on a few of them, including specific numbers to the Warlords and Casters listed by level down below them.
“Hello King Trammenis. I apologize if I’m interrupting something, but I felt it would be prudent to speak to you as soon as possible. If you want, we can reschedule this, but I’m almost positive you’ll want to hear what I have to say right now,” said Parson, and the King looked more curious than anything else, as his gaze swept about before him, his vision giving him more range than a typical thinkagram would have done.
“You are Lord Hamster, the Warlord who does impossible things, and has little honor. Tell me quickly, why I would speak with one such as you, when twice now, merely speaking to you has been the doom of Jetstone,” he declared in regal fashion, flourishing his cape so that all could see his finery, and most importantly, his sword, which glinted wickedly thanks to the color the Foolamancer was adding to the image.
“Because I have something you want, namely, two Casters in my dungeons. While you have something I want, namely an archon we can ill afford to let Charlie have,” said Parson, his tone and manners mimicking that of the king. This could have been taken as a jab at such, but it was obvious to any who listened that this was more ‘speaking his language’ laying out things as the one he spoke to would.
“I see. You wish to swap two prisoners for one then? That seems to be a deal that favors Jetstone rather than Gobwin Knob. What, pray tell, makes you think we still have your unit? Why would we not have simply croaked her and been done with it?” he asked, and Parson smiled at him, in his lopsided way.
“And lose a resource your father made sure to grab? No, it doesn’t fit your style, your Majesty. You’ve probably got her under lock and key in a dungeon somewhere, waiting for Charlie to come take her off your hands,” he observed, and Tramennis took a moment to process that, before finally nodding.
“I see. And what makes you think Charlie has not already claimed his prize?” he followed up.
“Because we’d’ve seen him transporting her. We have enough units that even a veil would not have sufficed to sneak past our borders, and most of our neighbors would not have allowed Charlie through their land either. Most importantly, however, is a small troop of six archons snuck over our lands to your’s, and have not yet made the return trip,” he said, and motioned. Jack somehow caused a small image to display before Parson of said archons flying over a lake, having been spotted by Artemis while she was on patrol.
“Hmm, interesting. You could have simply grabbed them on their way back then. Why did you instead contact me?” asked the King, and Parson just shook his head while waving his hand in front of his face.
“The truth? Even if we had units all along our borders, we might not spot them, a small chance, but still a chance. More important than that, however, is that the time has come for diplomacy, not war, something I’ve been told you yourself preach,” he said simply.
“Oh? Diplomacy? From you? You who break parley, who defame others, and blaspheme against the Titans themselves?” he said in a rather rude way, but Parson shook his head in front of his face in response, while shaking his head from side to side.
“You say that, but you only listen to parts of the story. I know you only see things from your point of view, but still, have you ever considered that my view of events might have been a bit different. That others might have dishonored my side first?” he asked, and that response seemed to take the King aback for a moment, before he held out a hand to Parson, motioning for him to continue.
“Alright, let me be straight with you then. I don’t know the Titans. You might know this already, but just to confirm, I’m from another world, one with different laws, different ways of being. Our gods, if they even exist, were far less restrictive, placing fewer rules on us. I won’t tell you everything there, it would take too much time, but suffice it to say, I, personally, know nothing of the Titans, and don’t think I’ll learn too much unless someone get’s lucky and croaks me,” he told Tramennis.
“Truely? I had heard you were from some different place, summoned by magic most powerful, but is your world so removed from ours that they do not know their makers?” he asked, and Parson shook his head again.
“Not that I ever heard. There’s plenty of people who think they know the answer to that one, but none have proof. Moving on from religion though, I want you to know the circumstances behind my, ‘dishonor’, so you might know why I was forced to commit those acts,” he looked towards Jack, waving his hand in a circular motion, and Jack, still linked, nodded at the sign, producing a glowing blue document in front of the image of Tramennis.
“Here, you might recognize this as one of Charlie’s contracts. According to your brother, this particular one was agreed to by him shortly into his last turn before his decryption. I want you to read it, especially the stuff at the bottom,” as soon as he was done speaking, the King did as requested, scrolling through what was a standard contract, only stopping when his breath caught in his throat at the end of one particular line.
“Did he really agree to this?” asked Tramennis as his eyes went back over the line a dozen times in a moment.
“According to him, yes. I can bring him up here, if that would help, but I will also pinkie swear that it is the truth,” said the Warlord to the King, who took the offered finger quickly. Even over Thinkagram, the magic worked to bind them, and told Tramennis that the words Parson spoke were true, or at least, that he believed them to be so.
“Most disturbing then. He agreed to give not just one, but both Arkentools to Charlie,” he said at last, as if saying such things would somehow bring reality to them.
“Why would he agree to this?” he asked at last, and Parson smiled very, very darkly.
“Because I happened. Your brother marched on Gobwin Knob with all force, enough units in the coalition to crush it like a grape, and yet, he was losing to me. At one point, he was literally on the ground, his carpet gone, his allies blocked, and himself about to croak. One of the archons, Charlie’s, offered him this deal to save himself. He took it,” he said simply, and Tramennis sat there for a long moment.
This action was itself, dishonorable. When two sides fought, to bring in a third side, especially at such a cost, was not to be tolerated. Worse, Ansom had no right to the Arkentool he’d offered, neither Pliers nor Hammer had been his to give. Only the King could have made such a deal, and to do so in the middle of a battle was...not noble. It was an admission of weakness, and something he knew Ansom, his father, even bullheaded Ossomer would have seen as cowardly.
“Without this deal, my forces would have croaked him, and the entire coalition without the need of my trick with Parley. I do not deny I have no honor, I play the game to win, but if you would hold me to your standard, well, it’s not much of a moral high ground,” said Parson, and Tramennis nodded, more to himself than anyone else, before turning to face the Warlord again.
“What of Spacerock? You offered Parley then, and yet, while offering it, you attacked. It was the same tactic as before, when we had done no such thing to you,” he said, and Parson’s smile got even darker.
“Oh? What of Jillian? Is she included in this honor parade?” he asked, and the King nodded without thought to it.
“She is unconventional, I’ll admit, but she is noble born. And her dealings with Charlescomm were not new. She did not bring in more players when she herself was losing the game,” responded the Royal, trying his best to look very honorable, but Parson just chuckled a little.
“Okay, so does that mean she’s bound by her word in an agreement? Even if it’s not yet been shaken on?” responded the Warlord.
“Yes, her word is her bond, as it is for any ruler?” countered the King.
“Then what if I told you, the only reason Wanda didn’t attack right then was her agreeing to stay out of our way?” he said this simply, not in an accusing tone, but just a statement of fact. Rather than being stunned by the admission though, Tramennis just sighed.
“I heard something similar, but I’d believed it to be my father’s posturing. You swear you do not lie?” he asked, and Parson held up his pinkie again. This time, Tramennis pushed it away.
“I trust you word, for right now, Parson. You may not be noble, but you have loyal followers. As such, I merely wish you to tell me events from your perspective,” he said, thinking of those nights with the archon, Lilith. She’d spoken with love of her Mistress Wanda, but she’d spoken with admiration for Parson. She’d even recounted a story to him once of Parson asking, no ordering but asking, them for their opinions. Someone like that, who treated units as Warlords, had an honor all his own.
“Thank you, your Majesty,” he said, bowing slightly, showing his respected Tramennis, before moving on with his story.
“Well, it’s very simple. We could have crushed you at Spacerock. Nothing FAQ had in the air at the time was close to what we had, and you had few archers to line the walls. Heck, you tower didn’t even have many spells stored,” he said, and Tramennis did not respond, knowing it for the truth that it was. His brother, Ossomer had ordered such. Most of the archers were with the forces at the bridge, and the Juice of their Casters had been saved for the fighting, not even giving the tower more than a few basic defenses.
“If Jillian had fought with honor, you would have lost. As it is, her dishonorable actions bought her time, and let you survive. I will not say I apologize for my actions, but I feel I have only acted against honor when my own has been violated,” finished Parson, giving Jetstone’s king a moment to chew over what he had heard. After that moment passed, Tramennis just sighed.
“I see your logic, and while I do not believe you could have known those facts before you took your actions, meaning in your own mind you violated honor first, I cannot say that Jetstone or our allies have acted with Honor towards your own Side. Tell me then, what you want, and we’ll be done with it. I have many other duties today to attend,” he said, and Parson laid out terms.
It was almost instantly agreed. Parson, the Gobwin Knob Casters(Including Drachma), as well as their own two, would pass through the Magic Kingdom, at Jetstone’s askance. The Casters would be returned, and Parson would be allowed to make the case to the King in person, on what the fate of Lilith would be. His safety and that of the Casters, would be assured by the King himself, and should any harm fall them, Jetstone would cede much of its treasury to make it up to them. With the agreement made, they broken, and preparations began for the trip to Jetstone on the next day.