Yet Another Self Insert Fan Fiction, Part 12
A lot of different things happened at the same time. My dwagons roared. A sword hilt appeared next to me. Cleansing occurred. I knew the last because my arm finally stopped hurting.
SC’s turn had started and things needed to happen.
“Sizemore, you are hereby promoted to Chief Caster of SC. Deal with it for now, we can talk more about it later if you wish.” I ordered as I began peeling off the bandages on my left arm.
“Now Casters, report your juice status.”
Five casters responded, with different wordings for their answers. But all of them contained a vital keyword.
EUREKA was what I managed not to shout. My casters had juice. My casters had gained juice. For the second time this day.
Potential exploit found!
Oh I was so going to horribly abuse this if at all possible. There were of course questions to be asked and experiments to be carried out. Would it work with barbarian casters? Was this a special case because Gobwin Knob ceased to exist? Am I truly the first one to realize this potential exploit? If not, why is it not used more?
For now, it seemed there was some evidence that casters would get juice at turn start, no matter what (that remained to be proven). Apparently, if a ruler ordered his casters to turn barbarian sometime before the barbarian turn start, and filled their purses so they could pay upkeep, they would gain juice, which could then be used. Then, before his own turn started, the ruler in question could let the casters turn to his side. Presumably those casters would then gain juice again, to be used as the ruler saw fit. The only apparent drawback was that upkeep would have to be paid multiple times. Oh, and the ruler in question should be sure of the loyalty of his casters even though they turned barbarian of course. This would effectively double the juice of every caster under said rulers command. If a reliable third party (read: a colony side under strict control) which was not officially allied with the original rulers side would be available, then the potential chain could be extended:
(Juice as barbarian) +
(juice as caster of colony) x (number of colonies) +
juice as caster of original side =
juice available to be used on a given day
In hindsight, it might have been better to not draw attention to the fact that my casters just gained juice for the second time that day. However, even assuming that the GMTTA had not known beforehand about the whole juice replenishing exploit, an eventuality which I seriously doubted, they would have been practically guaranteed to find out anyway. They knew that my casters had used up all their juice in the last turn because they had seen it happening while being linked up with said casters. So as soon as one of them saw one of my casters doing something which would require juice the cat would have been out of the bag anyway.
I could of course have sent the GMTTA and the other free casters back into the Magic Kingdom to prevent them from seeing my casters using juice on my ‘second’ turn today, but that course of action would have carried its own difficulties. Firstly I could not exactly order the free casters around. I was working on the basis of goodwill (Hippiemancers), favors-expected- to-be-returned (GMTTA’s) and monetary interests (All other casters). Secondly it was quite possible that I would have further need of some of the casters this turn. Sending them away only to recall them an hour later or so might seriously annoy a lot people, something which I could not afford without good reason. Thirdly the GMTTA’s would have to roll a critical fumble to not realize that I was trying to hide things from them if I sent them away. And fourthly there was a good chance that they knew about the whole thing already and had decided not to spread the knowledge because they considered it to be cheating.
For the moment though there was no reason to give anyone any further hints that something important had occurred, especially not to any people not belonging to my side.
So with great concentration I controlled my appearance to others as I gave my next order.
“Great. Unless authorized by myself or deemed absolutely necessary by yourself at that time, you are forbidden from using juice for any purpose whatsoever. This policy will hopefully apply only this turn but it might be necessary to extend it further. In the future, I will gladly listen to any advice on how to put your juice to use efficiently for the benefit of the side or your personal projects or for our understanding of magic in general, but not this turn.” I put special emphasis on the last part.
“For now, orders: Misty, I want you to do a quick scan of the approaching Royal Crown Coalitions forces. I need to know which hex Prince Ansom is in. Once you have found him, try to find some Archons again. I am sure they are still around. Stop when you have only a quarter of your juice left.”
Not waiting for her acknowledgment I turned to Sizemore. “Sizemore, help the Turnamancers turn the golems, in a link up if necessary, then see them out through the portal. Use as little from your own juice as possible and make absolutely sure to retain half of your juice.”
Now was a good time to practice silently communicating the full intentions behind an order without having to talk half a day, a vital skill in any warlord and especially important for a ruler.
“Jack, go get some other units to help and clear out the inner city from all usable resources.” I visualized a much more detailed set of instructions as I said this. Jack seemed to have understood; at least he showed no sign of confusion. Time would tell if I got it right.
“Wanda, you do the same for the outer city.” While Jack had gotten some more detailed instructions, Wanda’s assignments main purpose was to keep her out of my hair and occupied even though it was not entirely busywork. I tried to put more force behind the order together with a heavy dose of ‘Be silent and obey’ because I had no time to argue with Wanda. Apparently it worked.
“Maggie, we need to talk about common protocols for contacting Rulers with Thinkamancy.”
While everyone (hopefully) tended to their assigned duties, Maggie explained, among other things, that it was common courtesy to set up communications through a side’s Thinkamancer, provided the side in question had a Thinkamancer of course. At this time no one in my side was supposed to know about Bunny so after Maggie told me she did not know if Transylvito had a Thinkamancer I asked the present members of the GMTTA if they knew.
In canon, the GMTTA did not tell Parson about Bunny because they had deemed the existence of Baddies ‘Need to ask’ and thus denied him a potential useful contact. Only after Parson found out about Bunny trough Ansom and grilled the GMTTA about the matter did they come clean, and as usual, only admitted the absolute minimum of knowledge they thought they could get away with.
In response to my question Isaac informed me that Transylvito had a Thinkamancer named Bunny. He did not provide additional information and I did not press him at this time. Presumably the only reason that I was informed about Bunny was that it was quite obvious that I would contact Transylvito in the near future and find out about her anyway. If they had denied her existence I might have wondered why the GMTTA did not know about a fellow Thinkamancer and started to ask awkward questions, especially in case I should find out that Bunny was not newly popped but served Transylvito since thousands of turns.
Being content with having gained a diplomatic channel to Transylvito I left the awkward questions to the GMTTA for later and ordered Maggie to contact Bunny. She was to announce the delivery of a couple of documents detailing recent changes in local affairs and request a Thinkagram contact between King Don and me at his Majesties convenience after his Majesty had the chance to review said documents.
It was imperative to not offend the Royals sensibilities if I wanted to have any hope of achieving a diplomatic resolution to this whole mess. From the whole Royal Pains I knew, Don King was the least snobbish one, at least at this moment of the timeline, nevertheless it could not hurt to be properly mindful of royal customs and especially forms of address. As a freeborn commoner of the 21th century my opinion on the concept of inherent royal superiority involved lots of swearwords but I would have to hold them back for now. Perhaps there would be an opportunity to tell the whole bunch of royal prima donnas what I really thought of them if the whole diplomatic attempt went sour.
It would presumably take some time for Don King and friends to get their bats in a row, so I left to deal with a problem I trusted no one else at this point, namely Jillian. She had been a prisoner of Gobwin Knob and hopefully was now a prisoner of SC. Unfortunately I did not know at the moment since I lacked the usual ruler senses which would have told me. It was possible that she was not in fact my prisoner depending on the order effects resolved in Erfworld. In an ideal world her prisoner status would have briefly transferred from Gobwin Knob to me as a barbarian warlord and then to my new formed side SC. However there were other theoretical possibilities.
The potential problem I had had to take into account when I had planned my coup was this: My taking of the empty garrison of Gobwin Knob the city would trigger multiple effects which would trigger more effects themselves:
1: The city of Gobwin Knob would fall instantly.
2: All units left in the city but outside the garrison would be taken prisoner. This included Lord Stanley.
2a: Since Gobwin Knob did not have an heir the side of Gobwin Knob would cease to exist.
2b: The above event would cause all former units of Gobwin Knob to turn barbarian. No units would disband because there were not any in the field.
3: Since Gobwin Knob the city was the last city of Gobwin Knob the side, Gobwin Knob the side would cease to exist if it had not ceased to exist already due to Stanley being taken prisoner without an heir.
3a: All former units of Gobwin Knob would turn barbarian at this point if that had not happened already.
4: A barbarian warlord (me) finds himself in a neutral capital city and forms a new side.
Unfortunately this might not be the order in which events resolve.
1: The city of Gobwin Knob would fall instantly.
2: Since Gobwin Knob the city was the last city of Gobwin Knob the side, Gobwin Knob the side would cease to exist.
2a: This would cause all former units of Gobwin Knob to turn barbarian. No units would disband because there were not any in the field.
2b: All units left in the city but outside the garrison would be taken prisoner. This included Lord Stanley.
3: Since Gobwin Knob did not have an heir the side of Gobwin Knob would cease to exist, if it had not ceased to exist already due to Gobwin Knob having no cities left.
4: A barbarian warlord(me) finds himself in a neutral capital city and forms a new side.
So what was the difference? The question was what happens to prisoners of a side if the side falls?
Jillian was a prisoner of Gobwin Knob. What if she would be freed the moment Gobwin Knob ceased to exist? In that case the order in which the events would resolve suddenly started to matter quite a lot.
If I had left her in the dungeon before I seized Gobwin Knob, the absolute worst case scenario would have been that she would have been freed before the whole prisoner situation gets sorted out and would have counted as a free hostile barbarian in the garrison, therefore preventing me from taking the city and forming my new side.
To prevent that potential catastrophe and any other unfortunate prisoner shenigans I had applied a very generous dose of the green knock-out stuff (note to self, come up with a name for it) and hid her just outside of the garrison just prior of launching my coup. She had gotten the same treatment as Stanley, I had estimated the amount of chains it would absolutely be impossible to break out of and then tripled that. One could not be paranoid enough considering the amount of influence the powers behind the scenes had. To my great relief she was still unconscious and, what I could see thanks to my glasses, a prisoner of my side. I hauled her into the dungeon myself, it was quite a workout given the heaviness of the chains. Thankfully, most Erfworlders did not weigh that much, being usually about half as tall as an average human.
One might think I had been over complicating things and had worried over nothing but I only had one chance at this, my life was on the line and it wasn’t like I had access to the complete rule set of Erf. Also, if it there had been any possible point of interference at all, Fate might have been tempted to expedite the “Princess Jillian becomes Queen of Faq” plot line, seeing that Jillian was being fated to do that and conveniently present at a, in the worst case scenario, unclaimed capital city with only one level 4 special warlord with little to none combat experience in her way. I do not know about anybody else but being stranded in a city with a fated level 9 barbarian princess with anger management issues is not my idea of a fun afternoon.
After I had put Jillian in the farthest cell away from Stanley as possible, I returned to the courtyard. I was greeted by a bunch of golems, Sizemore and the Turnamancers had been busy. The free casters were looking with varying expressions at a growing pile of different torture instruments in the middle of the garrison. The Thinkamancers had their usual non-expressions while the Hippiemancers mostly showed signs of disdain alternating with curiosity. Under the direction of Jack, a train of units kept carrying various vile things up from the dungeon. When Jack told me they had emptied the torture chamber, I addressed the free casters.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, I have no intention of ever using these abominable instruments on anyone and I do not want them around in my capital. So how about you help me in tearing this crap to pieces? Afterwards we can set fire to the remains and drink a nice cool drink from my larder.” There was general applause from most casters and a whole lot of volunteers. After everyone who wanted to help had been provided with an appropriate tool from the nearest workshop, the pile of torture instruments was attacked by a horde of casters led by the Hippiemancers. The general lack of close combat skills was compensated by sheer enthusiasm. I joined in and about 10 minutes later only the sturdiest torture instruments had any resemblance of their former shapes. A few Hippiemancers kept hammering away at the Iron Maiden in the background while I ordered the promised drinks up for everyone.
In the general distraction caused by what looked like the beginnings of a party Jack pulled me aside to inform me about a number of scrolls he found in the dungeon. I ordered Maggie and Jack to determine their exact effects if possible to do so without using juice and make me a list. Another thing (“discover” Wanda’s private stash of scrolls) to strike from my mental to do list, which unfortunately was still rather large.
By now a small fire was burning in the courtyard. Presumably the metal parts of the various torture instruments would not take much further damage from burning but it was the principle of the thing. Some Hippiemancers had produced music instruments and started playing while others danced around the fire. A few other free casters had joined them; others had formed a group and waited to be escorted back to the Magic Kingdom. I had invited the whole bunch of casters in through the new portal as one big throng right after SC was formed. That way they could keep an eye on each other. With the Hippiemancers under Janis around there was next to no chance a caster could start something offensive while the Great Minds That Think Alike should be able to keep anyone from doing something sneaky. Of course the hurdles for the GMTTA themselves to pull of something sneaky were pretty low, but some risks I simply had to take. Since they wanted me to take down Charlie and being independent ruler of a side could only help with that I saw no immediate problems from their side. What their plans were in case I ever got rid of Charlie for them was an entirely different topic. To stay on the save side against subtle magic influence I kept carrying around the Staff of Suckage. The thing was rather unwieldy but better safe than sorry.
Anyway, I watched as Janis led the group of casters, mostly Turnamancers, into the dungeon zone to send them off into the Magic Kingdom after they had fulfilled their contractual obligations. Their services had not come cheap and thanks to the bracer I was quite aware how low my treasury was. SC was running a deficit; the income from a single level 5 city was simply not enough to cover the side’s upkeep, especially since a rather large chunk of that income was needed by my own upkeep alone. Add to that all the casters, two high level warlord prisoners, the whole dwagon armada and the other heavies and automatic disbandment reared its ugly head in the foreseeable future. That was not a huge problem as Sizemore could simply dig up some gems from the deposits under the capital, assuming he had some leftover juice to do so in the coming turns. Hopefully Don King would call soon so that I could take further steps in ensuring that there would be in fact further turns for SC. I was getting impatient actually. If he did not call soon I would have to initiate negotiations with someone else from the Royal Crown Coalition. The only real options there were either King Slately or Prince Ansom since Jetstone was the driving force behind the whole Coalition. I really would prefer to talk to King Don initially though. However time was running short. From glancing at the sun I concluded that I had maybe three to four hours left before my turn ended forcefully at sunset.
While I was thinking on how much longer I should wait, Misty informed me that Prince Ansom was located in the leading hex of the approaching column. She also found three Archons lurking in a nearby hex. That would presumably be Jaclyn and friends. I was just thankful that Misty had not spotted Archons in the Royal Crown Coalition’s column. Nobody should have a reason to hire Charlie against me at this time but you never knew how Erfworld would try to screw you over. I thanked Misty for her efforts, then walked towards Maggie and Jack to see if they had made any progress with the scrolls. I did not need to walk far as Maggie met me halfway to the dungeon. Apparently His Highness Don King had deigned to call.
1. There is no link back to chapter 11 at the start of this chapter. Took me a while to reread everything.
2. While rereading, I thought that you had come up with a 99% certainty plan to deal with the incoming troops.
3. Within one turn, the RCC should be aware that you have spent a huge amount of money effectively buying caster services/juice. Since you are known to have a high level dirtmancer, anyone even attempting to go into the tunnel section is foolish, and Anson will know better than to send his troops there.
4. In the original, Charlie wanted Parson because of the bracer. Now, Anson will want you because of your military skill. (He already does, this will just make him want you more).
Thanks for the comments everyone.
About your points:
1. Thanks for pointing out the lack of links, I have corrected that.
2. That plan is still an option, however my self insert is trying negotiations first.
3. That would depend strongly on how close an eye to keep on comings and goings in the magic kingdom. Given that there are six sided in the RCC, each of whom is presumed to have casters odds are at least one of those casters picked on something. It is indeed very likely that the RCC has started an investigation in Gobwin Knobs activities by now.
4. Charlie (hopefully) has hopefully had no reason to put special emphasis on my self insert yet. That will change over time as more information about my self insert's actions reach him. The real trouble for Parson started once Charlie figured out that Parson was a "Perfect" Warlord from out of Erf. Even then he did not escalate immediately, probably because he feared Fate's intervention.
As for Ansom, at the moment he thinks of my SI as a freshly promoted warlord with a solid grasp on the basics of strategy who certainly tries his best to achieve the impossible demands of Stanley the Worm but is understandably overwhelmed by his responsibilities. In other words, everything that can be hoped for in a commoner warlord popped under Stanley (which is not so much) but no huge obstacle for the RCC.
That view is about to change.