(Previous Chapter: http://www.erfworld.com/blog/view/55378/money-makes-the-world-go-round-part-18 )


“Alright, I think that’s everyone, so I think we can begin,” said Parson to the room. It was a full house too, way larger than his meetings back in Gobwin Knob, where he’d mostly had an audience of under ten. Here, they filled the seats before him, all lined up in row after row, rising towards a ceiling. Each chair had a butt in it, all Warlords or Casters, showing just how many of each Jetstone had.


“So, for those of you not in the know, my name is Parson A. Gotti, and I’m from Earth. I was summoned here via a magic spell, and according to various sources, I’m the Perfect Warlord,” as he spoke, he walked up to the map in front of him, one that was being magically projected into the air so everyone in the room could see it. On the map one could see the surrounding kingdoms, with dots and various numbers showing troops and things, as accurate as he could make them.


“That is to say, I’m different than all of you. I’ve been here for less than a hundred turns, and I’ve already achieved victories your best Warlords have called impossible. From defending Gobwin Knob from the first Royal Crown Coalition, to keeping my people alive at Spacerock,” this time his words got some reaction, and not all of it what one would expect. A few did indeed look mad, but more looked thoughtful, wondering just where he was going with this.


“Of course, if you heard about Charlie’s attack earlier, than you know I failed to predict it. My big brain works best on the macro level, with large scale armies and battles, rather than the unit to unit fights. On the smaller scale stuff, I’m pretty outclassed. My bonus is barely two, and I’ve croaked all of three things since I got here,” this he said with a chuckle, drawing his sword from his side and entering a fighting stance that everyone in the room could see was sloppy, and not really the sort to help in a real battle.


“If you’re curious, I’m telling you all this because I want you to know two very important things,” as he spoke, he sheathed his weapon, and motioned towards the map hovering in the air above him.


“First and foremost, I’m ignorant. It is the admission one has to make to learn, to say ‘I don’t know’. By that, I mean, I’m going to list out plans, and if you have a concern about it, no matter how minor, no matter how obvious you think the flaw is, then I want you to voice it. I don’t want to lose units, lose people, simply because you were a bunch of yesmen,” he said this with his eyes moving around the room, slowly, deliberately locking eyes with a few of the Warlords.


“Second, and even more importantly. Once the plan is done, you follow it, and you follow orders. I know your loyalty isn’t to me, it’s to your King, who I’ll admit is a guy I think I could learn to like. On the battlefield though, I’m the guy in charge, and that means when I tell you to jump, you do it, and ask how high on the way up,” this second was said, and it gave some a moment of pause. It was odd indeed to hear someone speak as if an order, a command, would not be followed, and yet, more than a few of them knew the rumors of what had happened at Gobwin Knob, and how people had defied Ansom, which might have been what cost them the battle.


“So, you are to be made as Ansom was of the first Coalition?” asked one of the men in armor, and Parson nodded.


“It’s part of the deal I made with Tramennis. Charlie is going to come down on us hard. He’s gunning for me because my summoning was specifically to deal with him before he can ‘win’ the game called Erfworld. With that sort of guy on the other side, we have to have a united front, otherwise we’re not going to survive,” answered Parson, and that answer caused everyone some concern. They’d heard him say Charlie had attacked earlier, but they’d figured it was just what Charlie did, just one move. To have Parson out and out admit he was to be their foe...it was a humbling thing.


“Okay, well then, let’s go over our options, as we actually have quite a few of them,” as he spoke, he gestured, and the map above him moved, zooming in on Jetstone, both the side and city.


“Right now, we’re surrounded by allies of yours, and hopefully soon to be Gobwin Knob. I know how some of you probably feel about our side, and more importantly how they might as well, but Charlie is the bigger threat, and I’m hoping we can make them see that. If we can at least get them to go neutral, that will be a start,” as he spoke, several bars began to appear around the various sides, depicting odds of various actions against them, from allying to conquering.


“Alright, first off, I think we just wipe Haggar’s army off the map. They’re obviously gunning for your cities, and that can’t be allowed right now. Cities are the only advantage we have over Charlie. We’ll get him to back off afterwards, and then offer him a deal. Join us, or get ground down into just another decrypted,” as he spoke, the map changed, Hagger turning the same color as Jetstone, interestingly, rather than Gobwin Knob.


“Since you guys have more administrators, if that comes about, we’ll allow your side to take control of the cities, for a small fee. We’ll actually be using them to produce smuckers, not units for now, as Charlie’s got us at a disadvantage we need to correct as soon as possible,” motioning with one hand, he had Drachma walk up to him, and with a hand, draw out the two rifles he’d shown Tramennis during their turn.


“These are Charlie’s big game changers. We don’t have time to give everyone here a go with them, but just so we’re clear, Your Highness, I want you to give your personal opinion on them,” as he spoke, Parson gestured towards the Jetstone king, who, while caught on the spot, just nodded and rose from his seat, walking around to the weapons, rubbing his hand down them, before picking up the special one.


“These weapons look almost identical from the outside, but are far different within. If you weren’t in the plaza earlier, I assure you, even the less useful one is a very dangerous weapon, with these ‘bullet’s that it fires capable of croaking in a single hit, regardless of other defenses. I’ve seen level five knights of this Kingdom laid low by these weapons, and they are truly terrifying things indeed,” as he spoke, he brought the weapon to his eyes, and his gaze was sharp, like an archer’s, which shocked the room, as all knew their King had no special for that sort of arm.


“Indeed, you should be scared, for the rifles made by Charlie all seem to possess this property. They convey on the wielder an archery special, regardless of all else. That, mixed with their ability to croak instantly at range, makes them the most formidable weapon in the world,” he said, and then set the rifle down, before picking up its seemingly identical brother. This time his eyes did not grow sharp, instead remaining the soft gaze of a King, as he held the weapon, just a bit more clumsily than before.


“These, made by Lord Hardware, when he linked with Gobwin Knob’s Dirtamancer, do not do nearly the same. They are just as potent, but lack the auto-specialization of the former,” this time he brought it up, and held it in a similar way to how Parson had drawn his sword. It looked good, or at least, right, but a seasoned soldier could point out every flaw in his stance. With the demonstration over, he set the rifle back down, and then retook his seat.


“So, we can make the inferior rifles easily enough, but we’ve got no idea how to produce the better ones enmass, and right now, we need that mass, because I can assure you, Charlie’s got a lot of these, and he’s got the will to use them,” so saying, he motioned towards where the Gobwin Knob Casters sat. Drachma nodded, and rose to his feet again, waving his hand at the image above their heads, slowly altering the data the Fool was displaying, until several bars began to appear over each kingdom.


“Heh, this, ladies and gentlemen, is my first contribution to the alliance. I give you Loophole 2521. Drachma is a Moneymancer, and is thus, aware of certain things that others are not. Sadly, he’s under an NDA not to share this data, and thus, couldn’t tell me much, but, we discovered a little area where the NDA was a bit more lax,” as he spoke, the various bars began to change, the map vanishing as the image became a flat graph, with axes showing that each bar was a side, and that the bars represented their treasuries.


“See, he can’t tell us what he knows, either in writing or speech, but he can still make little graphs of it. Therefore, it is my pleasure to present to you, Charlie’s Treasury, as compared to everyone else’s,” as he spoke, everyone stared as the graphs changed. First adding Gobwin Knob’s not inconsiderable funds to the list, their bar dwarfing the others by a good margin. Then even that went nearly flat, as the Charlescomm’s bar was brought to the fore, being so large that it was almost impossible to tell the other bars from the bottom of the graph.


“I’m sure you see the problem, and one I’ve been discussing with a few people. Charlie’s rolling in money, but he shouldn’t be. A basic stabber costs a few dozen smuckers for upkeep every turn. A good Caster, sometimes a few hundred. Archons are more like Casters, and they’re the only ones Charlie has, besides some golems,” as he spoke, he motioned towards the Foolamancer, who nodded once, and then added a small model of an Archon to the projection, along with numbers. Two-hundred to five-hundred beneath it.


“From our Archons, we know this is the price he pays for that sort of unit daily, and he had six hundred of them. That’s a lot of shmuckers a day, and even giving him his communication business, well, not a lot of people trust him. So, where does he get all the money from?” asked Parson, and before anyone could hazard a guess, the map returned, and this time focused on Charlescomm’s eponymous city.


“This. This is how he makes as much money as he does. His capital has been haxxed,” that statement got gasps, as the accusation was the same as claiming that Charlie was in violation of the rules of the world, and had angered the Titans of Ark themselves. It was not something to be said lightly, as merely the accusation might turn sides against one another, regardless of alliances.


“To be fair, we don’t fully know how, but I’ve been going over some ideas with the casters, and our best guess is he’s doing something that makes the city see the archons as administrators. Get enough of them together, and the cost of the city starts flipping around to the negative numbers. Even a few hundred smuckers a day, adds up over a thousand turns,” he said, and everyone in the room began to nod.


It was a known trick, after all, if seldom used. Administrators offered bonuses on upkeep, lowering the price of the units and buildings in a city. It was often done to keep costs down, and allow a side to spend more. It was possible to flip that cost, but each administrator offered diminishing returns, and worse, the admins bonus did not apply to themselves, so eventually you’d reach a point where any more would be useless.


But if the archons weren’t the ones being spelled, but the city itself? Perhaps that would allow Charlie to do the impossible. It would explain why the archons were his only unit, keep his costs down. But why? That question, perhaps for the first time, entered every mind in the room, as they considered the theory. Charlie had more money than they’d known existed, but if he had a trick like this, why wasn’t he conquering other cities yet?


“Good, I can see you’re starting to get it. Charlie thinks he can screw the rules, because he has money. I for one, plan on taking that advantage away from him, and here’s how,” Parson began to speak again, and every ear in the room was hanging on his words, as he began to lay out a rather unconventional plan for both his side, and Jetstone.


(Next Chapter: http://www.erfworld.com/blog/view/55932/money-makes-the-world-go-round-part-20 )