A Tale From Traz

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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:30 am

Phineas arrived as the tents were being set up. Trumpets announced his arrival, but the tune was slightly different than expected. When he looked over to the nearest trumpet stand he was surprised to see the normal operator jumping up and down, trying to grab his instrument back from the imp that was hovering just out of reach. Phineas suppressed a smile and continued on toward the center of the hex where Chip's tent should be.

As he approached the entrance to the royal tent, the royal guards on either side of the tent blocked his way with their weapons. Phineas stepped back in surprise. "Why can't I go in? Is Chip in a meeting?" Even if he was, Phineas still should have been allowed in since he was now a part of the prince's war council.

The female guard blushed then said, "No, he is not in a meeting."

He waited for her to give a bit more information, but once he realized she wasn't going to offer any more, he prodded the the two of them with an appropriately drawn-out, "Well?"

The male guard cleared his throat then said, "He isn't in a meeting, but he is conducting some business."

Before Phineas could ask any more questions the flap covering the tent's entrance opened and Chip appeared. He set a chamber pot down on the grass next to the doorway and instructed the guards to have Earnest pick it up the next time he came by. Then he motioned for Phineas to follow him inside. Phineas tried to avoid breathing through his nose, but went inside regardless.

"How did it go at the ruins? Did you find any units there?" Chip asked. He sat down behind a table with a few half-blank maps on it. Phineas took a standing position across from him.

"The ruins? Not as well as I could have hoped. I tamed a sourmander, but it snuck up on us and cost us a couple knights."

"Oops," Chip said with insincere sympathy. "You gotta look out for creatures. Anyway, has Seymour filled you in on our situation?"

"Yeah, he told me before I left." Phineas noticed Chip raise an eyebrow and knew what it was for almost instantly. "I came back earlier because I wanted to check in with King Alec."

Chip let out an annoyed sigh. "Leave it to a Carnymancer to do the unexpected." From anyone else it probably would have been a compliment. He rubbed his forehead with one hand and slid the magic mirror across the table with the other. "Just... promise me you will at least consider doing what I want, and not just what I say, from now on, okay? Is that too much to ask?"

"You got it, your highness."

"Yeah." He didn't seem too reassured. "Give that back before next turn. Now go have you little chat session somewhere else. I have work to do."

Phineas smiled and grabbed the mirror off of the table, then headed off to find a good place to speak with the king in private. It didn't take long for him to find a small tent with only a couple archers inside. He kicked them out and told them to keep anyone else from coming inside. He wanted his conversation to be private. He was already feeling a bit bad about not telling Chip right away about the artifact he found, and he would only feel worse if some low-level archers learned about it first.

He sat down and leaned against the middle support pole of the tent, then opened up the compact mirror. He held it up in front of his face and said, "Mirror, mirror, in my palm, show me my king. Show me his crown." The surface of the mirror wavered and a figure appeared.

"Ah, you again? It's been a while. I don't suppose it is me you want to talk to, is it?" It was Grimhilde, of course. The king's official receptionist in the mirror room at the palace.

"Not today, I'm afraid. Could you pleas get King Alec? If he isn't too busy."

"He's always too busy," she commented, but went to go get him anyway.

A few minutes later and King Alec of Traz was sitting before him. "Ah ha, Phineas! Nice to see you. How have things been?" Despite the king's cheerful attitude on the surface, he looked a bit worn out. Like he hadn't gotten a good night's sleep in a while.

"Things have been pretty good. Tamed a lot of new unit types that I haven't tamed before. Sourmanders, boo-bees, sea dogs... So how have things been back on the island? I heard Port Manteau was attacked again. Is it producing new unit types this time?"

King Alec flashed Phineas a horrendously fake-looking smile and shot a glance toward the mirror room entrance. "Phineas, promise me you won't tell this to Chip."

"Tell him what?"

"I'm serious, Phineas. Promise me you won't tell him what I am about to tell you. Promise me you will take all reasonable steps to make sure he doesn't find out."

Phineas had no clue what his king was talking about. "Alright, I promise. What is it that I can't tell him."

Alec still seemed unsure if he should say anything, but after a few moments he continued. "We still haven't taken back Port Manteau."

"You- Wait, what? How come?"

"Well, we used our normal tactics. We withdrew most of our forces from the city and prepared a counter attack to regain our city the turn after it was taken. All of our scouting information before the attack indicated it was a weak stack of ships. Even during their capture of the city, they only attacked with a small force. But when we sent in our forces to retake the city, their forces had more than quintupled. We were obliterated. A lot of them were our top units of what was left, too."

"How in the world did they quintuple their forces?"

"We figure they must have had a stronger force further behind their main forces. It was like they expected us to react the way we did. Why else wouldn't they attack with all of their forces? But that's not it, either."

"What?"

"We heard through the Grapevine that they are planning to go after our other cities too. I think they know we are weak right now, I really do. I mean, after that last failed attack we only have three warlords, Phineas. Three! The rest are over there with you."

Phineas took a moment for all of this to sink in. He didn't like anything he was hearing, but there was still one thing he didn't understand. "So why don't you want Prince Chip to know any of this? He is the Chief Warlord after all."

"Isn't it obvious?" Phineas tried to figure it out again, but when it was clear he wasn't going to the king continued on. "It is because he will want to come back. And you know as well as I do that you are too far away to be of any help. It is best that he just focuses on getting his aunt Eliza back and let me worry about driving off these pesky intruders. I was a Chief Warlord once too you know."

Phineas replied with a polite smile. It was true, the king had been a Chief Warlord once, but they both knew he hadn't had to plan any major battle strategies. His father had insisted on planning the larger battles when Alec was still just a prince.

"Was there another reason you contacted me, or were you just checking up?"

"Oh!" With all of the new news Phineas had almost forgotten what he wanted to talk about to begin with. "Perhaps this will help lift your spirits." The Carnymancer tilted back his head and opened his mouth, then proceeded to unsheathe the sword from his esophagus. It's handle was still as fiery-looking as ever and the blade was the same yellow-orange as when he had put it in there.

"Wow. Where did you get that?" Alec asked.

"I found it in some ruins I was in yesterday. It is an artifact, that much I know. But I have no clue what it does."

"Well, give it a swing."

Phineas wasn't sure that was the best way to test out the abilities of something like this, but an order was an order. He gave the sword an embellished jab through the air. To his surprise, a small puff of flame lurched out from the tip of the sword. Not only that, but it seemed to drain all of the color from it as well. Now the blade was a dull pewter color and the handle was a rusty brown. He gave it another jab, but nothing happened.

"Hmm, interesting. It looks like you have found yourself a puzzle, Phineas. You keep that thing in your care until you figure it out, okay?"

"Shouldn't I give it to someone who uses swords? I really doubt a weapon of war will be much use in the hands of a caster..."

"A weapon of war, eh? From where I'm sitting it sure looked more like a magic wand than a weapon of war. At any rate, get a better idea of what that sword is capable of before you go giving it out to someone who doesn't know how to use it."

"You got it, your Majesty."

"I would like to discuss current events with you further, Phineas, but unfortunately I have other matters that need tending to."

"I understand. That was all I wanted to talk to you about anyway. Until next time."

"Until next time."

King Alec's image disappeared and Phineas was left staring at his own reflection. He snapped the mirror shut then got to his feet to go find Polly. If he was going to be carrying this sword around, he would need a better scabbard than his throat.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:33 pm

The entire camp was up before dawn the next morning, packing up and preparing for the day ahead. They were visiting a new city today and hardly a person in the camp had ever seen, much less been to, a city outside of their island kingdom. Needless to say, there was a lot of excited chatter.

When dawn eventually arrived and their turn started, they were ready to head out. Phineas rode a tidal boar alongside the other casters and warlords, each on their own tidal boars.

He would have rather ridden the mothras but Chip said it would be more appropriate to enter Stashburns through the front gate rather than fly over the walls. And apparently the boars were good for representing the forces of Traz for some reason. Phineas personally thought it was just because they had twelve boars and twelve riders.

As they moved along the bumpy trail, Phineas's sword bumped against his hip in its new scabbard. "Thanks again for making this Polly," he said as he moved his mount up next to hers. "It looks... nice."

Polly blushed and gave an appreciative smile. She stayed up all night making it by hand, using spare parts from her scarecrow supplies. It wasn't a masterpiece, but it was definitely better quality than her usual work. He figured she was trying to live up to the quality of the sword, which was still well-made despite its current rust and grey colors. "I could have made it better with a spell, but you know, we have to save our juice now."

Chip decided since we were so close to definite enemy territory (whom they were currently allied with) and about to enter the city of a side that they were technically unallied with, that the casters should save their juice for emergency purposes from here on out. Unless given explicit permission by Chip or another warlord, that is.

Phineas rode along in silence for a while after that. The only sound interrupting his thoughts was the well disciplined marching of feet from the small army behind his stack. He wondered what the city would be like and wether or not it would be where he, Polly, and Seymour would stay while the rest of Traz's forces marched onward to rescue Eliza. He wondered briefly if he would be able to convince Chip to let him come along since he was on the war council, but seriously doubted it would work. As a caster, he was too valuable to risk.

Instead of dwelling on that line of thinking, Phineas decided to ask someone about Stashburns who probably knew a thing or two about it. Duke Chu Fuman.

"So what do you know about this place? What's it like?" he asked the duke as their tidal boars matched pace.

The warlord stared straight ahead at nothing, took a long drag from a cigarette, then blew out a steady stream of smoke before finally answering. "Nothing."

Phineas raised an eyebrow, unsure how to respond to that. "But... Ponchovilla is your old side... So that means Stashburns was one of your cities."

"Occasionally. But I've never been there." He inhaled through his cigarette one more time, then flicked the butt off to the side. It landed on an unlucky infantryman. Only then did Chu glance over at the Carnymancer. "I was popped in Verdi, on the coast. Most of Ponchovilla's cities are on the coast. From there I was assigned to a small band of ships. I have never visited any of the side's landlocked cities. No reason to. The closest I came was visiting the capital, but even that is situated along a large river."

Phineas had a hard time imagining being on a side but never visiting all of its cities. "So... how many cities does Ponchovilla have?"

"Heh, I'ld eat a twoll turd if I knew the answer to that one. It changes, Stagemancer! Not all sides are shut in on a little island where everything is always the same. Last I knew there were twelve, but that was over a hundred turns ago." Chu laughed to himself a bit more, making Phineas feel more and more like an ignorant fool.

"Didn't you think to ask any of this stuff when you were in the capital?" Phineas accused in an attempt to shift Chu's attitude back at him.

The warlord shook his head back in forth for a while in mock disappointment. "Would you go into King Alec's bedroom and ask him how many pairs of underwear he has without having a good reason for doing so?" Phineas stared back at him blankly. "I didn't think so. So you don't go into another kingdom's court and ask for potentially exploitable tactical information without having a good reason for doing so."

Phineas still wasn't sure he understood exactly what Duke Chu was saying, but didn't really want to ask for a clarification either.

"Don't worry. If you still feel like you need to ripen your melon, two of the Queen's courtier's will be in town to meet us. Ask them whatever you want. Just don't blame me when the prince glues your tongue to your teeth when you do."
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:07 am

The rest of the trip was made in silence. At least for Phineas. Everyone else was caught up in chatter about the city as they neared it. At least, until they were only one hex away. At that point Chip raised a fist in the air and let out a loud, "Order!" Everyone made an effort to march in straighter rows and stand at greater attention. It was time to impress a foreign kingdom.

"Queendom, actually," Phineas reminded himself.

As they neared the level three boarder city, Phineas noticed banners hanging from the wall that were the same as the ones he saw back at Port Manteu. They had the imperial seal of Ponchovilla stamped on them. During the voyage across the sea, he once asked Chu about the symbolism. He said the double brushstrokes were supposed to represent the simple, yet powerful presence of their side in Erfworld. Phineas didn't really buy it, and doubted the Duke seriously did either.

When they reached the gate, the troops of Traz stood at attention and waited for the portcullis to be raised. When it did, eight units marched toward the city. On foot. Phineas was one of them, as well as Prince Chip and Duke Fuman, of course. The others in their stack included Duchess Nukem, Wally, Lord Blankenship, and Lady Winfrey. Chip said it was a good idea to go in with a max stack of commanding units.

He also said it was a good idea to leave the rest of their forces outside of the city under the watchful eye of their other casters and warlords. Phineas wasn't sure if this was the best course of action, but didn't know enough to make a better suggestion. He at least agreed that it was a good idea not to leave any of their units unlead.

The eight of them were met by a group of royal guards and were led across the city to the courtyard. The city itself was made of simple round, stone buildings with twig roofs. The main roads were paved with similar stones, but the alleyways and side roads were made of dirt. There were weeds growing up through the cracks and along the edges of buildings in a lot of places, which gave the entire city a somewhat scruffy look.

When they reached the courtyard, their stack was led to a spot not far from the garrison's entrance. They lined up in two rows and stood formally as a row of guards stood at attention on either side of them. The whole ordeal was making Phineas a little nervous, but apparently they had to wait for something.

Just as Phineas was about to loose his patience and try to ask the Prince what they were doing, the garrison door opened and two men stepped out. They both wore dull golden robes that flowed down to the ground. They had oversized sleeves and wore ornamental sashes draped over their shoulders. On their heads were slightly pointed hats that Phineas personally thought were not very attractive. They each had mustaches, but one of theirs was thicker and also had a small patch of whiskers on their chin.

"Why hello there, envoys of Traz. I am Dalí," said thin mustache.

"And I am Vandyke," said chin hair.

"Welcome to the royal side of Ponchovilla."
"Welcome to the royal side of Ponchovilla."

Phineas was a little creeped out by how well they managed to talk in unison. And the way they walked with exaggerated gracefulness didn't help much either.

Dalí continued, "We are courtiers sent by Queen Chevron herself in an effort to aid you in your... stuation."

"It pains us to think what could be happening to your Princess Eliza at this very moment." The two courtiers looked at each other, frowned, then nodded at Vandyke's statement. "Come, come. We will discuss everything in the planning chamber over a cup of tea."

"Tea fixes most everything," Dalí interjected. Chip seemed slightly perturbed but politely accepted, and they followed the queen's representatives into the tower.

The tower was not much to look at. It was pretty much a wider and taller version of the buildings they walked past outside. It was round, made of stone, and had a roof made of sticks. They walked halfway up it before reaching the city's "planning chamber." The term was used mighty loosely in this case. There were bookshelves stack to the ceiling along the walls, and in the center of the room was a large round table. When the ten of them sat around it, everyone was elbow to elbow. And the woman who brought in the tea barely had enough space to walk around the edge of the table to serve everyone.

After minimum requirement of pointless chatter was reached, Chip turned the conversation back to the main topic. Saving Princess Eliza.

"So what can you two tell us about the side that we are headed towards?" Chip asked as piles of maps were being brought in from some other room in the tower.

"What would you like to know?" Vandyke asked.

"Tell us about their King. King Red was it?"

"Overlord Red," Dali corrected. "Or as he likes to be called, The Red Baron. From what I've gathered, he was once a noble warlord in the service of King Murphy. He was a kind king. Helped our side out a lot back before he croaked. But alas, it seemed everything that could go wrong would go wrong for the poor guy."

"So," Vandyke interrupted, "when he saw a large army marching toward his capital while it was undermanned, he made his only warlord present into an heir, then sent the order to any unit that could reach the capital within two turns to recall to his city."

"King Murphy decided to lead a small force ahead and fight, you see. It was his plan to stall the invading army and give his city enough time to build up some defenses. While at the same time doing his side a favor and taking himself out of the picture."

"Well, it worked. A little too well. When poor King Murphy went to confront the invaders, he discovered too late that the forces were almost all low levels. Ones and twos, you see."

"It turns out it was meant to be a bluff strategy. The other side was going to hold the city ransom. But instead they lost half their forces and croaked a king."

"And of course, you know what that means. Through no deserving reason, The Red Baron became an overlord. With his new ill-gotten power, Red systematically abused old alliances and deceived former friends of his king in order to make his side into a formidable foe once again."

Everyone was silent for a few moments after that. Dali and Vandyke because they had finished their story, and the rest because they were busy absorbing all of the new information. But eventually Prince Chip spoke up again. "If that is the case, how did my aunt, Princess Eliza, end up as an ally to the likes of him?"

Dali sighed, "Alas, we do not have a clear answer for that one. Only suppositions."

"Suppositions will have to do," Chip remarked.

"Very well," Vandyke continued. "When last she departed from Ponchovilla's employment, she was headed in the direction of Dinaco to look for more mercenary work. Unfortunately our relationship with Dinaco has soured since then, so we did not hear any news from her in a long while."

"And then when we approached one of the baron's cities many turns later, we found her and her troops defending it. We then sent a-"

"Yeah, you sent a warlord to parley, yadda, yadda, yadda, we know the rest." Chip seemed anxious to get to the meat of the problem.

"So," Chip said as he flattened out one of the maps on the table and pointed to a particular location. "Is the princess still in this city? The one with the large castle? The one your queen said she was in when we sent her the thinkagram?"

The courtiers looked down at the map then up again in unison. Then Vandyke replied. "I'm sorry, but your princess is in another castle. But fear not," he said, holding up the palm of one hand reassuringly. "Or latest scouting sortie tells us that she is currently in a city that is slightly closer, and should have even easier defenses to overcome."

And with that, the warlords dove into devising strategies on how to approach the city, what unit formations to use and how to handle the situation when they arrived. The courtiers answered questions when asked, often with long-winded answers, but otherwise remained silent. Phineas himself gave little advice. After all, he was a caster. He still wasn't sure what his king was thinking when he made him an adviser to Chip. War was for warlords, casting was for casters.

The only real snag during the discussions was when Chip asked how many units Ponchovilla would be sending to aid Traz forces. The courtiers seemed embarrassed to admit that they couldn't really afford to send any due to recent escalations in their disputes with Dinaco. They said their land forces were not as strong as they should be to begin with and that they were stretched too thin right now. But they were also quick to reassure us that our own troops should be more than enough to take one city. That is, if the city even needed taking.

As the end of the turn neared, the warlords headed out of the city, armed with maps and new strategies. And Polly and Seymour joined Phineas in the city. They would be staying behind under the protection of Ponchovilla while the column moved two more hexes toward Princess Eliza. With that small bit of extra movement today, they should be able to make it to the princess in just two more turns.

The three casters watched from the top of the tower as their army marched onward, then watched the courtiers head back to their capital as Ponchovilla's turn started. Phineas thought it would be neat to spend a few turns in a new city, and it looked like it would be, but that didn't explain why he had a chill up his spine.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Tue May 18, 2010 5:00 am

Spending a turn in a foreign city was interesting. At first. Phineas, Polly, and Seymour received a formal tour of the garrison of Stashburns from Lady Peachfuzz, the city's only warlord. She showed them the dungeon, the larder, the library, and a couple of other standard rooms any respectable garrison should have. And then their tour was over. They were stuck in the garrison until Traz's next turn began.

The casters were given a room to share near the top of the tower. It had narrow windows, a single bed, and a couple of wooden chairs. No rugs, no curtains, no decorations on the cold stone walls, nothing. Phineas found it to be rather depressing. But with nowhere better to go, and Ponchovilla's turn nearing completion, the casters began settling in for the evening.

"If you need anything else," Lady Peachfuzz instructed, "I'll be standing guard outside your door all night."

"Alright, thank you," Phineas replied as he impatiently closed the door to the room. "I'll keep that in mind."

Phineas didn't much care for her company. Lady Peachfuzz looked to be the weakest warlord, both in mind and body, that Phineas had ever seen. She had informed them that she was merely an archer two turns ago but had been promoted to warlord for the sole purpose of serving as a personal escort to the casters of Traz.

"She seems nice," Polly commented when Phineas turned away from the door.

"Nice, sure. Worth talking to? Not so much."

Seymour raised an eyebrow. "Wow, Phineas, why so bitter? You are usually only in a bad mood at sunrise, not sunset."

He let out a sigh. "Sorry. I'm just a little stressed out is all. Hey Polly, do you have the," Phineas looked back at the door then whispered, "mirror?" They weren't supposed to let anyone know that they had a way to easily communicate with their capital if it could be reasonably avoided. Chip said it was bad for security or something.

Polly handed the mirror over without a word, but Seymour wasn't going to let him off the hook so easily. "Why do you need the mirror? Chip already informed him of their strategy before the column left. You really shouldn't bother King Alec all the time."

"I'm not going to sit and chat with him for the fun of it Seymour. There are... other reasons." Phineas wondered wether or not he should tell Seymour and Polly about the forces that were invading their island kingdom. Alec made Phineas promise not to tell Chip, but didn't mention anything about these two. Phineas redoubled his efforts to whisper. "Traz is in a bit of trouble."

Seymour looked confused and Polly looked worried. "What do you mean, trouble?" Polly asked.

"Port Manteau was taken a few turns back and we haven't gotten it back yet. I don't really know all the details. Now if you will excuse me..." Phineas sat down on a chair and flipped open the mirror. Polly and Seymour stood behind him to try and get a good view of the mirror. "Mirror, mirror, before my face. Show me my capital. Show me that place."

Phineas watched his reflection waver and get replaced by the face of Grimhilde. "Two days in a row?" she chided gently. "You making it a daily routine to annoy me now?"

"I would like to speak with King Alec please."

"Sorry there, but he is busy at the moment," she replied.

"He always is."

"More so than usual this time, I'm afraid. I take it those two behind you know what's going on?" Phineas nodded in response to Grimhilde's inquiry. She looked a bit disappointed with that answer, but didn't comment. "Well some of the enemy units have parked outside our main gates. We withdrew a lot units to our capital, so they don't have enough to conquer us, but they still have enough that it is making Alec nervous. He is going to try and parley with them at the gates as soon as they end their turn. Which should be any minute now."

"Do you know who they are yet?" Phineas asked.

"No, but Alec hopes to find out." The image on the mirror wavered slightly, meaning that someone else was trying to reach Grimhilde. "Well, gotta go. Someone in Wysiwyg is trying to get through. Listen, it's going to be hectic around here for the next couple turns, so maybe try to hold off on calling unless it is an emergency. Bye." The mirror fizzled out and Phineas was left staring at his and the other casters' reflections.

"Hmm," Seymour grunted. "That. Was not very informative."

"I hope King Alec will be alright," Polly added.

"I'm sure he will be fine," Phineas reassured her as he stood up and headed toward the window. "But I can't help but feel like I am missing something obvious. Something major."

Phineas leaned on his knuckles and looked out the window at the setting sun. The city of their unallied ally looked calm and peaceful in the colorful light of twilight. In the near distance he heard the trumpets of Ponchovilla signaling the end of their turn.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Sat May 22, 2010 3:45 am

"Phineas," Seymour said, concern in his voice.

"I know. Just... stay calm, I guess. We don't want to make our situation worse by being impulsive." Phineas continued to look out the small window of their room, but out of the corner of his eye he saw Seymour nod in agreement. He also noticed Polly sitting on the corner of the bed, glancing nervously at the closed door of which Lady Peachfuzz stood guard on the other side.

He couldn't blame her. Their situation was presently less than optimal. They were stranded in the garrison tower of a side that was pretending to be their ally. But in light of recent evidence, apparently they weren't allies at all. If Ponchovilla had their turn at the same time as the one attacking Traz, then it didn't take a Mathamancer to put two and two together.

"Maybe they are just allied with the side attacking our kingdom," Polly offered meekly.

"That is entirely possible," Seymour admitted hopefully.

"Possible, yes, but likely?" Phineas shook his head. "I would kiss a crap golem if I thought that were the case."

Seymour and Polly looked at him with confused expressions on their faces and Phineas realized they didn't have all the facts yet. "When I talked to king Alec yesterday to tell him about this sword," Phineas pat the artifact at his side, "he explained Traz's situation to me. I'm still trying to figure out exactly how, but the pieces seem to fit too perfectly for it to just happen to be an ally of Ponchovilla."

"What "pieces?"" Seymour asked.

"Well, for instance, Alec said the invading troops seemed to already know that they would be able to take Port Manteau easily. Oh, and not to mention that they arrived from across the sea just as we ourselves were reaching the other side of the sea. Doesn't that amount of coinciding travel time seem like a pretty big coincidence, all things considered?"

"I guess..." Seymour admitted reluctantly.

"But they came to Traz in the first place so they could help us, didn't they?" Polly asked. "Duke Chu came to tell us about what had happened to Princess Eliza. Why would they attack us after they tried to help us? They aren't that mad that we turned their warlord, are they? Besides they didn't even know he was turned until just a few turns ago, when he visited their capital with Wally."

Polly's blatantly obvious and accurate observation completely changed the way Phineas viewed the situation. Not because Polly was right about Ponchovilla's original intentions, but because this whole thing may have stared well before he would have expected.

"You guys, what if Princess Eliza wasn't ever in trouble? Isn't in trouble? What if Ponchovilla made the whole thing up?"

"What would be the point of that?" Seymour asked, not disagreeing, but still skeptical.

"I... don't really know... " Phineas admitted. "But I'm sure they would have had some kind of reason."

Polly stood up and folded her arms. "So what do we do?"

"Can we do anything?" Seymour wondered. "If you haven't noticed, we aren't exactly in a place of power here. We could very well be prisoners here."

"I think the first thing we need to do is find a way out of the city. So that means we have until dawn to come up with a plan. Agreed?"

Seymour and Polly both nodded in agreement and all three of them started working on a plan.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Thu May 27, 2010 6:37 am

*pop*

*pop* *pop*

"Mmm, boiled beets," Polly said, examining her freshly popped rations, fork and knife in hand.

"Should we really be eating at a time like this?" Seymour half accused, half asked as he eyed up his own steamed rice and pork chops.

"You know the plan, Seymour. We have to act like we don't know anything about our situation. So for all our sakes, act." Despite his own words, Phineas still felt a bit foolish sitting in their room eating his fruit gelatin and rye bread. Especially since their guard/guide, Lady Peachfuzz, wasn't even watching them at the moment. But she could walk in at any moment and the casters didn't want to raise any suspicions. Phineas felt they were being overly cautious, especially considering the warlord they were trying to fool, but it was better to be too cautious than to regret it later on.

It wasn't long before the warlord actually did poke her head through the door. "It looks like your turn started. You guys sleep alright?"

"Yeah, we-"

"Not really," Phineas said, interrupting Polly. "We stayed up most of the night and talked about Princess Eliza, the column, and how we couldn't wait to get back home once this is all over. You know, needless worrying and whatnot."

Judging by the warlords face, Phineas figured she thought his answer was pretty odd, but all she said was, "Well when you guys finish eating, I would be happy to escort you around the city until your turn ends. Unless, of course, you want to stay in the tower where you have your bonus..."

"I think we'll probably take you up on that offer to stretch our legs outside," Phineas replied. He had to fight the urge snap at her sarcastically. As if they would want to stay cooped up inside just for a stat boost.

"Well, I'll see you in a little bit then." Lady Peachfuzz pulled her head back through the door and closed it once more.

"Why did you tell her we were up all night!?" Polly hissed in confusion almost before the door was shut. The look on Seymour's face told Phineas that the Hippiemancer was thinking the same thing.

"If she was really standing guard outside the door all night, chances are she heard at least a murmur or two. What do you think she would think that was? Us talking in our sleep?"

"It is in the past now," Seymour. "Lets just drop it." They continued to eat in silence, trying not to let the stress of their situation get to them. All too soon they were finished and ready to move on to the next phase of their plan.

"Alright, hand me your knives, just in case," Phineas said as he slid his own up his sleeve. "Then Polly, grab the sheets and blankets off of the bed. Seymour and I will grab the mattress." Phineas checked his sword to see if its redness had returned yet, but it was as plain grey as ever. Then he went to help Seymour with the mattress.

"What are you three doing with all of that stuff?"

Phineas whirled around to see Lady Peachfuzz standing in the doorway, hands on her hips. That was Polly's cue.

Polly's face turned red. Probably because she was being somewhat deceitful, but her face probably would have turned red even if she wasn't, so it still fit the situation. "Um, well," she finally said, "I thought maybe I could help out our forces by making some scarecrows. I don't know if they will have enough move, but I figured it couldn't hurt to try..." Polly fidgeted with the corner of a bed sheet she was folding while she waited to see how the warlord would react.

"Is there anything I can do to help?" she asked the Dollamancer. Phineas let out a breath he didn't even realize he had been holding.

"Yes," Phineas said, taking over for Polly. "If you have any more cloth laying around, we could use it. Tablecloths, blankets, banners. And do you have sticks or straw? Those would help too, right Polly?" Polly nodded.

"I just arrived here two turns ago, so I'm not positive, but I think we have most of that stuff laying around here somewhere. I'll send out some men to round it up."

"Have them bring it by the front gate. It will probably be easiest there," Phineas surmised.

And so the three casters set about carrying their supplies down the tower steps while the Ponchovilla warlord led the way and barked out orders to other units as she came across them. By the time they exited the garrison, it seemed they already had a small army working for them.

When they left the courtyard and were nearing the city gates, Phineas nudged Seymour with the mattress they were carrying. "*cough* Seymour *cough.*" Phineas gave him a look of encouragement and mouthed the words "ask her."

"Ahem, Lady Peachfuzz?" Seymour finally asked.

"Hmm? What."

Seymour pushed the glasses on his nose with one hand and his cheeks turned slightly red. Unlike Polly, the nervous embarrassment look did not look natural on him. But luckily the warlord didn't know Seymour well and wasn't paying him a lot of attention. "Well, you see, Traz is in your debt for helping us out with all of this." Seymour's words sounded painstakingly rehearsed, but Phineas refrained from stepping in this time. He had to.

"Go on," the warlord said, not denying Seymour's words. That fact irked Phineas a bit.

"Since we are in your debt for all of the hospitality and intelligence your side has provided us, I would be honored if you would give me permission to help strengthen the walls of your main gate."

"Oh? How?" she asked.

"As a Florist-"

"You are a florist?" she interrupted. "And you have Dollamancer, obviously. So that just leaves that guy a mystery. What are you?"

"Duty dictates that I don't tell you unless I have to," Phineas replied dryly. He dropped his end of the mattress unceremoniously now that they were standing in front of the city's entrance. "You going to let Seymour plant his wallflowers or not?"

"Wallflowers? I suppose that would be alright. Just make sure you stay inside the city."

"So... we can't make the scarecrows outside of the city then? To give them one extra hex they can travel?" Phineas asked.

"Sorry, no. I was given strict orders before I left the capital that I was to keep you under my direct supervision at all times. Any trouble that may befall one of you would be reflected solely on me. So I am sorry, but I must insist that we stay in the same zone at all times."

"I figured it was something like that," Phineas mumbled. Then he set about helping Polly arrange the scarecrow materials. By the time they finished, most of the regular Stashburns units were back at their stations and Seymour had a steady set of wallflowers growing around the front gate. "You ready?" he asked Polly.

Phineas could tell she was nervous by the glance she sent him, and the sideways glance she gave Lady Peachfuzz, who was leaning against a nearby building. Polly took in a deep breath. "I wish I had a scroll," she mumbled. "Here goes nothing."

Phineas's fists were clenched tight as Polly pulled an oversized sewing needle from her front pocket. She raised it in the air, the end began to glow, then she directed it forcefully at the piles of supplies they had laid out, and said the magic word.

But it wasn't the word for making scarecrows, oh no. It was the word for something much more fearsome. As Phineas watched, the pieces of cloth wreathed and shifted. The straw and smaller sticks accumulated in one area where the mattress was busy unstuffing itself. The tablecloths, blankets, and even a rug, wrapped themselves around this mass as bits of string, thread, and a spool of barbed wire sewed it all together. Soon there stood before them an LFN that could have made a Croakamancer cringe. But it was theirs, and it would work.

"Mount up," Phineas instructed Polly as Lady Peachfuzz approached them.

"I thought you were making scarecrows," she said, confused more than anything. "And why is your Dollamancer mounting that cloth golem?"

Phineas almost felt sorry for her. "Because we are leaving," he replied. "Don't try to stop us."

"What? Why? You can't."

"We can and we will. We need to." The warlord gave Phineas the same old confused look. It was painfully obvious that she had been kept out of the loop. "Look, we have reason to believe that your side is backstabbing ours. So don't go getting all upset that we don't want to stay in your city. If it makes you feel better, it isn't your fault we are leaving. Now if you'll excuse me..."

Phineas reached for a handhold on the LFN so that he could climb up behind Polly. But the warlord took a step towards him as if to interrupt. Almost without thinking, Phineas withdrew two knives from his sleeves and threw them at the warlord. They stuck into the ground at either side of her feet, pinning her pant legs to the ground. He held up his third knife, the one he had used to butter his bread that morning, and pointed it at her face. "Don't." And with that, Phineas mounted the LFN and they headed toward the front gate.

They didn't make it more than two steps before Phineas felt a sharp pain in his left shoulder. "Capture the casters!" Phineas looked toward the noise and saw Lady Peachfuzz holding a knife in her hand, ready to throw it. The other was already lodged in Phineas's shoulder. He had overlooked the fact that the rival warlord used to be an archer, and that meant she had great aim.

"Go, go, go!" he urged Polly and the golem. All nearby units were now headed to intercept them. Phineas drew his sword in order to prepare for the worst, and was surprised to find that it now had a green blade with an ornately flowery handle. "When did that..." There was no time to think about it. He flicked the point of the blade at the closest group of approaching pikemen and, low and behold, a patch of wallflowers started to grow in front of them. It only slowed them down for about three seconds, but it was all they needed. They had reached the gate.

"I thought you would never make it," Seymour quipped as Polly and Phineas crossed the hex boundary. Seymour quickly sealed off the entrance with more foliage from the outside, then too crossed the hex boundary. "Hopefully that will keep them from following us once their turn starts. Probably not, but we can hope. Lets just get out of here and catch up to our column as quickly as possible."

Phineas and Polly couldn't find a reason to disagree, and so they headed out.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Wed Jul 21, 2010 8:46 am

The three casters managed to effectively triple their move by taking turns riding the LFN. First Phineas and Polly rode while Seymour walked. Them Phineas walked and the other two rode. And finally Seymour and Phineas rode while Polly walked. It was during the last leg of the trip that King Alec finally contacted them through the mirror and warned them to get out of the city. He was shocked to find that they had beaten him to the punch.

Phineas spoke with the king for a while, but they weren't coming to any new conclusions, and so the king eventually left the three casters to their own devices. Alec had his hands full enough as it was with protecting their remaining cities, much less his casters who were not in a position to help anyone this turn.

By the time their turn ended, they were only two hexes away from the back of their column, stranded on a rocky road with stones the size of walnuts and the color of marshmallows. "Thank the Titans for move penalties," Seymour exclaimed, referring to the column's large number of aquatic units.

"Do you think they know we are here?" Polly asked as she examined the LFN, pulling burs from the fabric.

"If they knew we were here," Phineas replied, "Chip would have sent some mothras to pick us up. Or at least send someone to speak with us."

"Ehem."

Phineas whirled around to see who had made the sound. Nobody was there. Then he tilted his head back and silhouetted against the sun was a humanoid figure with three smaller figures hovering behind it. "Speak of the 'devil..."

"It's a pleasure to see you too, Carnymancer." Bub Beelze didn't even attempt to hide the sarcasm in his voice. The daredevil lowered himself down in front of Phineas, brushing nonexistent dirt from the sleeve of his red suit as he did so. He came to a stop just inches above the ground.

"Did Prince Chip send you?" Seymour asked.

Bub gave Seymour a sideways look then said, "Why don't you go play doll with your gal pal over there, Hippiemancer, and let the big shot handle this conversation on his own." That was big talk coming from the daredevil considering Seymour had the authority to order him to do whatever he wanted. But the Florist had been cowed and went over to help Polly pull burs from the cloth golem.

Phineas raised an eyebrow then asked, "So, did Prince Chip send you?"

"Pfft," was all the response he got. Apparently the answer was no.

"If he didn't send you, then why are you here?"

"Well, he didn't send me, but I am here on his orders." Bub crossed his arms matter-of-factly, as if he had given a perfectly clear answer to Phineas's question.

"Meaning... what?"

"Meaning I cheated, that's what." The daredevil examined his fingernails nonchalantly, as if cheating were the same as breathing. "He ordered me to to guard a stack at the back of the column so that I would be out of his hair for a while. And then I spotted you, so we decided to come and visit."

"But we weren't part of the column this turn, so you should have had to stay with the rest of the troops..." Phineas was thoroughly confounded.

"Heh, I told you we cheated, didn't I? Your stack wasn't part of the column, but my stack was. So when we got to the back of the column, I decided we would guard our own stack. It just so happened that that stack left the column to go visit you, so naturally we were obligated to follow." Bub had a crooked grin on his face and the imps were giggling up above.

"Thats..." It sounded like it shouldn't work, but somehow Phineas couldn't prove otherwise. "How could anyone even come up with something like that?" Phineas asked, still unable to fully wrap his head around it.

"Practice."

Phineas shook his head clear. "Okay, but that still doesn't explain why you waited until after the turn ended to let us know you were here."

"Tisk tisk, Carnymancer. That one should be obvious, even for you."

He was right, it was obvious. "Because if we knew you were here, we would have sent you back to tell them that we were only two hexes away."

"Exactly. And what is the fun in that?" The daredevil sidled up next to Phineas and rested an elbow on the caster's shoulder. The one with the knife from that morning still sticking out the back of it.

Phineas moved out from under him and looked at the flier angrily. "Fun!? We could have an army following us from Stashburns and we're just sitting here with the column two hexes away! Does croaking sound fun to you?"

Bub didn't even bat an eye. "Oh please. I saw that dumpy city when we went by. There's no way they they can rummage up a decent force from that place and still leave it acceptably defended. On the off chance that they do catch up to you and enter this exact hex, there is no way they can defeat us in a max stack. Just imagine it. A Carnymancer leading a Florist, a Dollamancer, an LFN with a Dollamancer's bonus, a daredevil, and three imps. Now that is a force to be reckoned with."

Phineas let out a sigh. He should have known it would be useless arguing with this guy. "Still, it would have been nice for the rest of the column to at least know we are here."

"It's not too late. All you have to do is say the magic words."

"Oh? And what's that?"

"Biddy D, Bobby D, Bo." At the sound of his words, the three imps zoomed down and hovered at attention in front of Bub. Then the daredevil snapped his fingers and they flew over to a nearby spruce tree and began circling around it. It was one of the few signs of vegetation in their hex. Next the three imps began cackling maniacally and the tree burst into flame, sending a plume of black smoke into the air.

"There," Bub said with a poorly hidden smirk, "I think they'll know where to look."
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:18 am

"I should have you disbanded, you know that, right!? Disobey me again and I just might!"

"Don't be a fool. You should be congratulating us, not reprimanding us. We were in an enemy city. We-"

"Do not, I repeat, do not call me a fool."

"What should I call you then? The greatest Chief warlord that has ever been popped? You are ignoring the facts being laid out in front of you!" Phineas stared at his prince with determined eyes, and his prince stared back just as fiercely with a snarl on his face.

Just when Phineas was starting to think that Chip may just be crazy enough to disband his most talented caster, the prince gave his orders. "I want the three of you out of my sight," Chip said, referring to Phineas, Seymour, and Polly. "And Carnymancer, when you see Earnest, tell him he can take a break from his chamber pot duties until we meet up With Princess Eliza. You will be filling in for him until then."

"As you wish, your highness," Phineas said, glaring at the prince. "If you want to discuss the facts some more, without having to yell at anyone, I'm sure your father would love to talk to you." Phineas dug the magic mirror from his pocket and tossed it over to Chip.

Phineas glared a bit more, then turned around and started marching away so that he could catch up with Polly and Seymour and get out of the prince's sight. But he soon changed his mind and veered off to search for Earnest. "Might as well find that blue vested lackey now and get it over with," he said to no one. At least the column would be on the move for most of the turn, so he probably wouldn't have to do much "filling in" anyway. And if all went well, they would find their princess and be on their way back home before nightfall.

__________

"Is that it? Is that really the city where Princess Eliza is?" Phineas asked the portly little spearman warlord walking next to him. The guy was actually a unit under the rule of The Red Baron, but since their sides were still under an alliance, they shared a turn. The column had run into some field units, which took it upon themselves to serve as an escort.

The spearman straightened the laurel on his head and proudly smoothed out his orange toga before replying. "Yes. That is the city of Domino. One of the most beautiful cities in the entire side of Pizzazzerazz."

"One of the most beautiful, huh?" Phineas had to give the guy credit, it did look pretty amazing. They were still a couple hexes away, but looking down into the valley, Phineas could already tell he liked the look of the place. The city was very symmetrical. It's brownish-red-bricked buildings were perfectly aligned so as to make it possible to look from one end of the city to the other without anything blocking your view, save for the garrison walls. And each building, even the walls, had the same red roofs with shallow slopes on the outside and a boxy peak in the center. Very elegant. In the center of it all was a majestic castle rising above the walls. It wasn't large, but it looked very dignified nestled between all of the Pizzazzerazz huts.

Prince Chip had already recalled all scouts and consolidated Traz's forces, but now orders were being sent around calling for certain stacks to restack. For warlords to find their assigned subordinates. And for all available mounts to be mounted. Phineas figured they were close enough to the city now for him to get off of crap duty, so he rushed to put his supplies away and to freshen up before they entered the city.

But when he reached his belongings, Earnest was there waiting for him. "Sorry, I'm giving your doody duty back," Phineas said.


Earnest looked mildly disappointed, but that didn't seem to be why he was there. "Here," the lackey said, holding out a note written on parchment. "I was instructed to give this to you when your orders expired."

Phineas took the note and Earnest excused himself. Unfolding the note,Phineas read:
To the Carnymancer,

Your lucky your king likes you. Pick some units for a stack and be ready at the front of the column. I suppose I should actually thank my father for having me put you on the front lines. If events take a turn for the worse, you'll probably be one of the first units to croak.

Don't dilly dally.

Your Chief Warlord,
Prince Chip of Traz

Despite the note being less than heartfelt, Phineas was actually glad to be up front. It would be more interesting than waiting for news at the back of the column where he probably would have been otherwise, and he wasn't afraid of a little danger.

But he did still have to build a stack for himself. He contemplated his choices as he quickly changed his clothes as he marched. He wanted to choose Seymour and Polly, but they were actually busy leading their own stacks. Polly was leading the golems, dolls, and scarecrows. Seymour was leading the kelpies and topiaries.

Finally, Phineas settled for three hermits and the daredevil's group. He chose the hermits because if something did go wrong, they were pretty good defenders. The only real down side was that the three he chose didn't speak Language. Phineas decided on the daredevil and imps because they had the most combined firepower of any of the units in the column, and nobody else had stacked with them yet. Not to mention it would probably annoy Chip if he saw that they were in Phineas's stack. The only real downside was that they did speak Language.

"So we finally get to fight, eh?" the daredevil asked as they made their way to the front of the column. The city was looming close so they had to hurry.

"I sure hope not," Phineas replied, making sure no Pizzazzerazz units were nearby. "But it is possible. If our alliance breaks down while we are in the city, I don't see how a fight can be avoided." Phineas walked a few more steps then remembered to add, "Do not do anything to make our alliance break down."

"Hey, hey, give me some credit. Don't you think I would be a little more tactful than that?" Phineas shot him a glare. "Heh, fair 'nough. But don't worry about me. Worry about that Prin-"

"Shh." They had reached the front of the column just as they reached the entrance of the city. Prince Chip, Duke Chu, Duchess Nukem, Phineas, their respective stacks, and the Pizzazzerazz units crossed into the city.

And standing there, in the middle of the road with her arms crossed and a smile on her face, was Princess Eliza.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Fri Jul 30, 2010 8:11 am

"So the intel was right after all. It was an army of Traz units approaching." Princess Eliza walked calmly over to Prince Chip, then leaned down and gave him a big hug. She was a little taller than Chip, but he was slightly more muscular. Chip just stood there, his arms dangling limply at his sides. Phineas had to struggle to hold back a snicker.

Chip cleared his throat. "It is good to see that you-"

"And look at you," Eliza continued, holding prince Chip out at arm's distance. "To think my nephew, my brother's son, has grown so much since I last saw him. By level you have grown by two!" This time a snicker did escape Phineas and Chip shot him a glare. While the princess was being sincere in her compliments, it still struck Phineas as funny that she was making such a big deal about him going from level one to level three.

"You shouldn't laugh Phineas," Eliza remarked, flipping her straight brunette hair over her armored shoulder. Phineas instantly felt ashamed, being scolded by the princess. "You haven't leveled at all since I last saw you. Have you been slacking in your duties?"

"No ma'am," he responded weakly. That finally got the prince smiling.

"Do you know why we are here, Aunt Eliza?" Chip finally asked.

Eliza seemed to grow more formal, but still kept a relaxed posture. "I had some guesses, but now that I see our forces with my own two eyes, I'm not so sure anymore."

Chip assumed a posture to match the princess's. "I'm curious. What were your guesses?"

She sighed deeply before giving her explanation. "Well, at first I supposed you came all this way to replenish the mercenary force I am representing. You know I only have one mothra and two lovebirds left under my command? Anyway, as soon as more reliable reports started coming in about just how big your column was, I figured that was no longer true. And now that I see you brought a caster," she said, indicating Phineas, "I know that is no longer true. So the only logical reason I can think of for you to march such a large army directly to me is that merc work just isn't providing enough shmuckers anymore. So now you need to capture some more cities and you need my knowledge of the local terrain."

"What? No!" The prince shook his head as if Eliza should have been able to read his mind. "We came here for you! We came to free you from The Red Baron's evil loyalty spell that he had cast over you."

The princess stared at Chip for a good five seconds, her face frozen in confusion. Then she burst into laughter. "Bwahahaha. That's priceless! Hehe, oh man, I haven't laughed like that for a long time. To think- Bwahaha."

Now it was Chips turn to stare, eyebrows raised. And Phineas was doing the same. "It's not a joke, your highness," Phineas said.

Her laughter stopped. "Wait, a loyalty spell? Seriously? I don't even think that's possible..."

"Oh, and why is that?" Chip asked demandingly.

"Well first of all because Red only has two casters, a Date-a-mancer and a Rhyme-o-mancer, both amateurs at best. Secondly, because he has no reason to. And thirdly, because Red tries to do things so honorably that something like that would probably cause him to disband himself." Obviously she was exaggerating, but her point was clear.

"And how do we know it isn't the loyalty spell making you say all of this?" Chip asked. He had a point too.

"I suppose you don't," she replied honestly. "But why don't you go ask someone you can be sure isn't under a loyalty spell? Ask The Red Baron himself."

Chip looked skeptical. "What, and bring our forces further into his territory so he can turn on us when we least expect it? I don't think so. We aren't going anywhere near his capital."

"Silly nephew. A large formation of units from one of his most loyal allies has traveled across an extraordinary distance to visit his side's cities. He isn't in the capital. He is in this city, in that castle right in front of you. Chip, he came to meet you."
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:26 am

"So you are Prince Chip of Traz, eh? The one who replaced Princess Eliza as Traz's chief warlord. I see, I see." Overlord Red stroked his bare chin as he looked over our stacks. He met us in the courtyard where he stood with a force that matched our own. He stood proudly at the front of his formations with seemingly no concerns that we may break alliance and attack. Phineas wasn't sure if he should be impressed or appalled that a ruler would do something so risky.

Finally he broke stack and walked over and extended an arm to shake hands with Chip, man to man. Risky indeed.

Phineas could guess that the baron was probably testing Chip's courage. And he could see that Chip was treating it as such. After what seemed like an amount of time that was bordering on rudeness, Chip finally broke from his own stack and shook Red's hand. Phineas could have cut the tension with a knife.

"A pleasure to meet you at last, your royal highness," Red said with apparent sincerity. "To what do we owe this visit, hm?"

Standing behind Chip, Phineas could see Princess Eliza smirking as she watched Chip struggling with the formalities. The prince had never had to interact directly with another side's ruler before. Phineas would have been smirking along with her if it wasn't for the fact that he still didn't know if she was under a spell or not. With all that he knew, it seemed likely she was telling the truth, but they still had to be sure.

"This visit," Chip said with strained politeness, "is because we were lead to believe, by word of Ponchvilla's former warlord," he gestured toward Duke Chu, "that our former chief warlord, Princess Eliza, was put under a loyalty spell by your side. We came to reclaim her."

Red's eyes went wide in surprise. "A loyalty spell? I can assure you we did no such thing. Obviously a weak ploy by Ponchovilla." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully once again. "Wait. Is that why Eliza's status as chief warlord was revoked all those turns ago?"

Chip nodded. "It is. But please forgive me for not taking your word on the matter. Do you have any way to prove that she is under no spells?"

"How would I go about proving something like that?" Red asked, more to himself than to anyone else.

"The battle charts, maybe?" Eliza suggested.

"Battle charts?" Chip asked.

"Battle charts, hm?" Red agreed. "Ah yes. The battle charts. They may not prove anything, but they can at least support my claim. Come, come." The Red Baron motioned for them to follow him, then proceeded to head into the garrison. Phineas and the warlords broke stack and followed.

The five of them followed the overlord down countless corridors and up and down steps until the finally reached their destination. The room looked almost like a library with a single small window, but instead of books there were scrolls. In the middle of the room was a man sitting at a table, busy recording something onto a scroll. He quickly stood up and got out of the way when he saw that his ruler had entered the premises.

"Welcome to Domino's archive room. What's your name, eh?" Red asked the man who was in the room.

"Alexander," he replied in a near whisper.

"Ah, Alexander!" Red exclaimed. "I trust you are keeping everything in order?" The lackey nodded. "Wonderful! Now, could you locate the battle charts from, ohhhh, lets say fifty to sixty turns ago?"

"Fifty two, I think," Eliza clarified.

"From fifty two to sixty two turns ago," Red corrected. Alexander got busy rummaging through the older scrolls.

They waited in silence for a while as the correct scrolls were being searched for, but Phineas eventually decided to break the silence. "Excuse me, but what is this room? What battle charts are you looking for?"

"This room, you say?" Red asked. "This is the Scroll Archives of Domino. An extra library of sorts. After King Murphy got croaked and I became Ruler, I had rooms like these set up in all Pizzazzerazz cities. Had we recorded and been able to look back at old information from previous battles and run-ins, King Murphy's fate may have been more easily avoided."

"I see." Phineas still wasn't sure how that would help their current situation, but resolved to wait and find out.

"I think these are what you are looking for," Alexander said as he laid the scrolls down on the table.

"Great, great. Go ahead and read the unit reports for those turns. Just the Ponchovilla units that approached Eliza's hold point between the lake and the mountains." The ruler looked over at Chip. "This is exactly why we keep records like this."

"Ahem," Alexandersaid, now that he had his scrolls ready to read.
"Sixty two turns ago, Princess Eliza, Chief Warlord of Traz encountered no Ponchovilla units in her assigned hex.
Sixty one turns ago, Princess Eliza, Chief Warlord of Traz encountered no Ponchovilla units in her assigned hex.
Sixty turns ago, Princess Eliza, Chief Warlord of Traz encountered no Ponchovilla units in her assigned hex.
Fifty nine turns ago, Princess Eliza, Chief Warlord of Traz encountered one Ponchovilla scout in her assigned hex. One Ponchovilla scout was croaked. Battle outcome: Victory.
Fifty eight turns ago, Princess Eliza, Chief Warlord of Traz encountered one Ponchovilla scout in her assigned hex. One Ponchovilla scout was croaked. Battle outcome: Victory.
Fifty seven turns ago, Princess Eliza, Chief Warlord of Traz encountered one Ponchovilla scout in her assigned hex. One Ponchovilla scout was croaked. Battle outcome: Victory.
Fifty six turns ago, Princess Eliza, Chief Warlord of Traz encountered one Ponchovilla scout in her assigned hex. One Ponchovilla scout was croaked. Battle outcome: Victory.
Fifty five turns ago, Princess Eliza, Chief Warlord of Traz encountered one Ponchovilla scout in her assigned hex. One Ponchovilla scout was croaked. Battle outcome: Victory.
Fifty four turns ago, Princess Eliza, Warlord of Traz encountered one Ponchovilla scout in her assigned hex. One Ponchovilla scout was croaked. Battle outcome: Victory.
Fifty three turns ago, Princess Eliza, Warlord of Traz encountered no Ponchovilla units in her assigned hex. Scouts located a large force of Ponchovilla units approaching Princess Eliza's assigned hex. Numbers uncertain. Mostly infantry and siege.
Fifty two turns ago, Princess Eliza, Warlord of Traz encountered no Ponchovilla units in her assigned hex, or as she retreated to Domino. Scouts find no advancing Ponchovilla forces."

To tell the truth, Phineas wasn't sure what to make of all that information. He was sure, however, that Red and Eliza felt it was relevant for some reason.

"How do those records show that Aunt Eliza isn't under your spell?" Chip demanded.

It was Eliza who replied to his question. "Don't you see Chip? I stopped being chief warlord after Ponchovilla delivered their message to you. As these records show, They continually sent scouts toward my hex when they knew their forced would be nearing Traz, then stopped when they knew I was no longer chief warlord. Then coincidentally, on the next turn a large force starts moving in. You know, when I am no longer providing my bonus."

"Yeah, but then they retreated right away," Chip retorted.

"We never did quite figure that one out," Red admitted.

"I know why," Phineas spoke up. Everyone turned toward him. "They turned back after I contacted Queen Chevron of Ponchovilla via thinkagram. We told them we would be coming for you Princess Eliza. They knew we would be weak."
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Sat Aug 07, 2010 7:31 am

"Wait. I still don't get it. And how is it that a Carnymancer knows more about our side's tactical situation than I do?"

Phineas grumbled under his breath. They had been going over the basics of their situation for over an hour now and Chip refused to fully grasp their position.

"Explain it to him one more time, Phineas. From the top," King Alec said from his mirror stationed at one end of a long table. They had called all of their units into the city, and now all of the Traz and Pizzazzerazz commanders were in Domino's war room. It was somewhat cramped, the air was stuffy, and there was a faint tinge of body odor, but not bad considering the number of people within.

"Our situation, as it stands. It appears Ponchovilla has double-crossed us and is attacking Traz's cities while a large portion of our forces are absent. We have two cities left, Wysiwyg and Traz. Ponchovilla's forces are closing in on our capital, Traz. It is unclear how long King Alec and his remaining three warlords will be able to stave off defeat."

There were murmurs among the commanders present, but Phineas continued. "We are now in the Pizzazzerazz city of Domino, in the company of their Ruler, The Red Baron. We have technically achieved our goal of reclaiming Princess Eliza, although she was under no loyalty spells. In Domino, more than fifty turns from our capital, we have more than six hundred units. Together forming a moderately formidable force. Probably a third of the way back to Traz by now is a small band of Traz ships, rock lobsters, and lopgaps. So I ask you Prince Chip, what exactly is it that you do not understand?"

"What I don't understand, Carnymancer, is why we are just sitting here instead of preparing as many units as possible to start making the trip back to Traz. Our capital is in danger! If the capital falls, we become barbarians. If... if dad dies, we become barbarians."

"Pull yourself together and think, Chip." Phineas was surprised to hear those strong words coming from the tiny mirror. "Do you really think rushing home will help us now? Face it son, our cities are almost certainly doomed to fall to those traitorous Poncho-villains."

"There has to be something we can do!" Princess Eliza slammed her fist down on the table. "I've been backed into a corner before and always made it out. There has to be a way!"

"Even if we could hold them back until you came to our aid," King Alec retorted, "There is no way our treasury could hold out for that long, especially with only two cities. Most of you would need to be disbanded before you even got close."

Red spoke up. "I would offer aid in that endeavor if it could work, but unfortunately Pizzazzerazz is not very financially stable at the moment either. However I think we are all agreed that going back to your kingdom is not an option."

Nobody wanted to admit that Overlord Red was right, but everyone knew that he was. The distance was just too great, even for their fliers. However...

"Duke Fuman." The white-haired warlord started slightly at Phineas's words, then turned his head to face the caster, as indifferent as ever.

"What?" Chu asked bluntly.

"You are a unit of Traz now, right? No longer a warlord of Ponchovilla?"

"Obviously. I'm here, aren't I? In a room full of island loungers, wearing their raiment."

"What are you getting at, caster?" Chip asked impatiently. Phineas ignored him.

"Then keep that in mind, Duke, and realize that your side is near defeat. Don't hold back on anything that you know, because our own capital is not where our target destination should be." Phineas saw a smile cross Princess Eliza's face as she caught on. "To the cities of Ponchovilla is where we should go."
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Mon Aug 09, 2010 5:47 pm

"I can't believe we are doing this."

"Relax, Chip," Eliza said, almost playfully. "If our side falls, the casters will be forfeit anyway, so we might as well use them to maximize our effectiveness. And we will need to maximize our effectiveness. We won't be getting many reinforcements."

"I know, I know," Chip reassured her. "But just because I know why we are doing this doesn't mean I have to like it."

Phineas smiled at the exchange as he bobbed up and down on his mothra. It was two turns after they had arrived in, and subsequently left, Domino. The majority of their forces were now sitting outside of Stashburns, preparing to lay siege. Chip and Eliza each lead a stack of eight mothras, plus riders. Phineas himself was on their remaining mothra leading a majority of their lovebirds and their boo bees. Bub, the daredevil, was given charge of the imps.

On the ground, Seymour was leading the topiaries and kelpies, while Polly led the cloth golems, scarecrows, and dolls. The rest of their ground forces were led by the other warlords, or unled by Traz commanders altogether, as was the case with their natual allies, the hermits.

The Red Baron sent along a token stack of orange-togaed spearmen, but didn't have time to prepare a more sizeable force before we departed. But his side wasn't dyeing, and so he still had other borders to worry about defending. Therefore he would not be able to offer as much support to Traz's efforts as he would have liked.

Even so, Red agreed to try and help defend any cities we might conquer. He also said he would seek aid from other nearby sides that he was on friendly terms with. He would tell them that now would be a great time to strike Ponchovilla if ever there was one. Already he sent out word to King Rex of Dinoco and to General Millie, Pillsbourg's chief warlord. Hopefully they would join Traz's efforts.

"Everyone ready?" Chip asked. "It looks like the last of our units have finally made it into the hex." Without waiting for a response, Chip led his stack low over the assembled forces and bellowed out the order, "Attack!"

The crowd yelled and surged toward the enemy's city gate, battle bears and topiaries making an effort to break in while archers provided cover fire.

Meanwhile, Chip and Eliza flew in and made short work of the Ponchovilla forces on the outer wall. Lady Peachfuzz barely had time to issue an order before her head was slammed by Princess Eliza's mighty hammer. Phineas himself flew along one side of the outer wall, taking out any units approaching to aid the failing gate forces, and Bub's stack did the same in the other direction.

Luckily for the Traz forces, Ponchovilla did not increase the defenses of this city after Phineas, Polly, and Seymour left. If anything there were fewer defenses. When they broke into the front gate and made their way to the garrison, there were hardly any units left to defend the place. Phineas was a bit paranoid that they had a large force waiting inside, but it was not the case.

When Prince Chip entered the Tower, and shortly after all of the banners containing the Imperial Seal of Ponchovilla changed to the mighty brick of Traz, Phineas knew the battle was won. The kingdom of Traz now had Stashburns. And with hardly a unit lost.

When Prince Chip exited the garrison, the crowd cheered. The prince smiled and raised his hands in victory, but didn't waste time celebrating. He called over the casters almost immediately to issue new orders.

"Listen up casters. We lucked out here and got a city cheap. But now Ponchovilla will know that we are coming, so we'll need all the forces we can get. We don't know if aid is coming from other sides, and waiting for this one city to pop more units will take too long. Besides, it is still popping Ponchovilla-type units, not the kind we are used to. So Dollamancer, go make your animated objects. Florist, find some plants to uproot like you have before. And Carnymancer, go do some beast taming. Get us as many units as you can, as quickly and as cheaply as you can. Be back here before our turn ends. Go."

With that the prince walked away to talk to his warlords, probably to set up defenses. But Phineas was frozen in shock for a moment. He hadn't ever heard Chip give such clear and rational orders before. It seemed the heir to Traz was finally starting to take on the mindset of a chief warlord. And about time, too.

Phineas ditched his stack and regrouped with the mothras that used to be in Chip's stack, then headed toward the wilderness, where it seemed most likely he would encounter feral units. "And so it has begun."
Last edited by cloudbreaker on Sun Jun 19, 2011 11:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Thu Aug 26, 2010 4:12 am

The hex's crisp wind blew through his hair as Phineas dipped and dived on Princess Eliza's mothra. She was doing much the same as she tested out the schwan he tamed the day before.

Their column was headed toward Ponchovilla's next closest city between Stashburns and their capital. Chu said it was probably Donegal, but he wasn't certain. The duke was not very familiar with Ponchovilla's inland cities. But he was certain that the one closest to the capital was Junco, a level one. He and Wally had flown past it when they visited the capital before anyone realized Ponchovilla was an enemy.

Traz could have gone around the cities easily enough, but they weren't going to. They were on a mission to cause Ponchovilla as much discomfort as possible before Traz fell. They would make their way through Donegal to Junco, where they would hopefully provoke Ponchovilla into sending forces to reclaim their cities. Which is when Traz's forces would do their best to decimate any units they might send. But if they stay holed up in their capital, Traz would continue to take any other nearby cities to lower Ponchovilla's schmucher intake from its cities, as well as unit production.

But right now Phineas and the Princess were flying.

"It handles pretty well," Eliza said. "It ascends and descends nicely, but its turns are too jarring for my tastes. And these feathers... bleh. I like a nice hard exoskeleton to hold onto if I need an extra handhold. Feathers would probably fall right out. Should we trade back?"

"Sure. I don't mind it," Phineas said in response as he pulled his mothra up next to the schwan. He stood up on the mothra's back and nimbly jumped over to the schwan, behind Eliza.

"Showoff," the princess remarked as she climbed awkwardly between the winged beasts. When she was all situated she asked, "Which way should we go next?"

The two of them were not merely out for a joy ride. Princess Eliza was actually acting as Phineas's escort for the day while he searched for more units to tame. So far they hadn't had much luck.

"How about northwest? I have a good feeling about that direction." The princess shrugged in response and they turned their fliers northwest. A few moments passed by in silence before Phineas finally asked a question that had been on his mind for a while, but he hadn't yet had a chance to ask.

"Eliza," he said overtop of the wind, "how is it that when we arrived in Domino, you weren't mad that Chip was the chief warlord instead of you?"

She looked back at him with a raised eyebrow and a smirk on her face. "Phineas, give me some credit, would ya? Sure, maybe I was a little upset when I was first demoted. Mostly just confused, but definitely upset too. But I had more than fifty turns worth of time to get over it."

Phineas nodded in agreement and was going to leave it at that, but apparently the princess wasn't done talking yet.

"I always knew that Chip would be chief warlord after me, that's just my brother's style. But I do wish he could have collected more experience before being promoted. He wasn't ready."

Phineas scoffed. "Yeah, tell me about it."

Eliza rolled her eyes, dipped her mothra underneath the Carnymancer and came back up on the other side. "I know the two of you don't really get along Phineas. Even more so now than when I left. But please don't degrade my nephew, and your prince, right in front of me."

"Sorry," he said earnestly. "It's just that... I don't know. He doesn't seem very good at being a chief warlord. During the last battle was the first time he really seemed to get a handle on his position. I think you would be a better candidate in pretty much every aspect. Why don't you suggest that you be given your position back?"

"That, my good Carnymancer, is a good question. I'll get back to you in just a sec."

They passed into the next hex right then. It was hailing. The two of them scanned the reeds below as best they could, then continued on to the next one. It was only drizzling in this one.

"So... ?" Phineas prodded as they began scanning this hex too.

"Oh, right," Eliza said, feigning forgetfulness. "I'm not sure I should admit this, so don't tell anyone. That's an order. Part of the reason is because Traz doesn't have the extra resources it would take to transfer chief warlord status to me, and even if we did have the resources, I doubt I could convince my brother to make the change. But perhaps the biggest reason is a selfish one." Eliza let out a sigh, then continued. "You see, I knew Chip would be Traz's next chief warlord, but I fully expected to be croaked before it happened. Since it seems Traz is on its lasts legs anyway, I would really like to see how my nephew handles his duty, leading our side, before it becomes impossible. One way or another."

Phineas was a bit skeptical. "You would weaken our side just so you can see how well Chip does as chief warlord?"

"It's a family thing, Phineas. You wouldn't understand."

It was Phineas's turn to be offended. But he kept his mouth shut.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Mon Sep 06, 2010 5:27 am

By the time they reached Donegal, they had run out of sea monkeys. Which meant they had to use less reliable units for scouting. Even so, they learned enough about the city before they arrived to make decent battle plans in advance.

It was a level three with better defenses than Stashburns. However, the city had some interesting... quirks. First of all, the city was not technically landlocked as they were first led to believe. It was situated next to a three-hex lake that was itself landlocked. The second quirk was that the city had no outer walls. Just a large moat that went from the lake on one side, all the way around the city and reconnected with the lake on the other, like a giant chin-strap holding the lake in place.

Normally these unconventional defenses would stop land-bound forces in their tracks. But to Traz, it was an advantage. Many of their non-infantry land forces were water-capable units that were actually weaker on land than in the water. Their fliers didn't have any extra advantages, but they didn't have disadvantages either. The only real problem would be the garrison walls, but those would be easy enough once they lowered a drawbridge or two.

But because of the situation, Phineas was with the ground/water forces this time around, which didn't please him. Another thing that didn't please him was that he wasn't given charge of any stacks. He was under Seymour's command. And while Phineas liked the Florist as a person, he could not imagine Seymour being a great leader to have in combat.

But there they were, in Lake Donegal riding on the backs of kelpies, ready to help take the city by sea.

"Alright, lets test out their airspace," Prince Chip yelled over the crowd. "Blankenship, take your stack in and make a pass. Report back here."

The warlord did as he was commanded and headed toward the city boarder. His stack consisted of himself riding the schwan, the daredevil and imps, and the majority of their remaining lovebirds. They crossed the boundary to the city and Phineas watched as Blankenship's stack was immediately fired upon. But they had prepared for that and were flying in a multi-level formation. The lovebirds were underneath taking the hits while the rest of the stack flew in relative safety above. Even with Donegal's paltry reserves of archers and apparent lack of an airforce, the curtain of lovebirds wouldn't last too long, though. The warlord would have to make his trip a quick one.

Everything seemed to be going as planned until the stack approached the garrison tower. That's when the city's third little quirk showed itself.

Without warning a bolt of jagged light blasted from the top of the tower and struck Blankenship's stack with a deafening "Babaganoosh!" sound. Phineas had to avert his gaze as a blinding light filled the sky, but he could hear shrieks of agonizing pain. The flash dissipated just in time for Phineas to see Blankenship fall from his mount as he and all of the lovebirds fell to the ground. The schwan, too, fell toward the erf, apparently incapacitated. It let out a haunting melody as it disappeared behind the rooftops.

Yet amazingly, Bub and his trio returned to them. Their clothes were pretty well fried, but their only actual injuries seemed to be from arrows. "Great plan there, Chief," Bub said to Chip when they returned to the lake hex.

"... How?" Chip looked perplexed.

Eliza provided the answer for him. "Immunity to Shockmancy, Chip. Most Shockmancy anyway. You really didn't- ?"

"Not important right now," Chip interrupted. "We are in the middle of battle. Now we know they must have a caster in this city. We didn't plan for this."

"And you still don't have to," Bub offered smugly. "There is no caster. It was just automated spell defenses."

"What? So it is safe to fly now?" Chip asked eagerly.

Bub examined his fingernails casually, as if his wardrobe wasn't still smoking. "If you want my professional opinion, I wouldn't recommend it."

Chip grumbled audibly. "Formations! Everyone except the fliers, stick to the plan. Go!" As his stack lurched forward in the water, Phineas was finally thankful he wasn't on a flier for this battle. Hopefully Blankenship would retain the most painful elimination of the day.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Wed Sep 15, 2010 3:49 am

The battle went swimmingly at first. The city of Donegal had very few water defenses, and so they really only had to worry about ranged units until they got to the dry land beyond the moat.

As Seymour gave the order, Phineas led his kelpie up out of the water. Its seaweed body dripping water as it pulled itself from the murky shore. On both sides of him, more kelpies snorted and nickered as they prepared to charge, some with riders, others without. "Don't hold anything back!" Seymore yelled. "Charge!"

Phineas felt compelled to do as his stack leader ordered, but he would have done the same thing anyway. He and his mount lurched forward. The only thing between their stampeding heard and the nearest drawbridge were a few stacks of pikers and stabbers. Maybe a couple knights. Most of the cities other units were busy engaging Traz's other forces nearby. Even now Phineas could see Commander Winfrey down an adjacent alleyway, booking units with her club.

"Here we go," Phineas murmured to himself as the last of the distance closed between him and the first stack of pikers. He tightened his grip on the sword in his hand. He had already used its magic today so it was in it's dull grey state. But it would still cut.

Just as their line was about to connect with the enemy's, Phineas heard Seymour yell, "Spathiphyllum!" from somewhere behind him. The ground underneath the pikers' feet erupted in a flourish of white flowers. The enemy stack dropped their weapons and cowered in terror as they were trampled, impaled and beheaded by Traz's units. But they didn't fight back. Seymour's peace lilies had done their job.

But there were more units to fight almost instantly and Seymour wasn't ready to cast again. As a spear was lunged at Phineas's face, he quickly dodged to the side and swung around the kelpie's body until his head was near the ground. He held himself steady with his legs as he reached between the kelpies galloping hooves with his sword and sliced off the spearman's leg. Then, with a little effort, he pulled himself back upright. "Haha, I bet you didn't expect that one," the Carnymancer called back to the enemy. He didn't have time to check if they were listening.

All around him, units were clashing. Steel against steel. Kelp against flesh. Wood against cloth. It was chaotic, but Phineas had to get through it. They needed the drawbridge lowered as soon as possible so Polly could enter with the rest of their forces. Together he and his mount wove between enemy forces as well as possible, Phineas using his trick riding when necessary. When they finally neared the crank for the drawbridge, Phineas stood up on his kelpie's back and vaulted forward as his mount came to a stop. He did a little flip before landing on his feet.

"Guard me," Phineas ordered the kelpie as he stepped toward the crank. He rubbed his hands together, then gabbed one of the massive pegs used to turn the contraption. Normally it would take a small team of men jest to get it to budge. But luckily for Phineas, he was a Carnymancer with juice left. "Signor."

At the activation of his spell, Phineas could feel his muscles rippling beneath his skin. The power was immense. He felt as if he could lift the kelpie he rode in on. With his teeth.

But the crank was still difficult to turn, even with the added strength. He was strong enough to turn it, but he had trouble getting enough traction. Several long and dangerous minutes went by before the bridge was lowered far enough for Polly's units to enter. But when they did enter, Phineas knew the city would be theirs.

First came the cloth golems, led by Polly herself. With the combined power of Seymour's kelpies and Polly's golems, the remaining enemies were eradicated almost immediately. Next were the topiaries, then the scarecrows and dolls, followed by the remainder of Traz's infantry. Mixed in were an assortment of random units Phineas himself had tamed.

The flood of fresh units washed over the battlefield, bringing aid to the rest of their forces. As they did, Phineas followed behind on his now severely wounded kelpie, not particularly eager to join the battle anymore. They wouldn't need him for the remainder of the battle anyway. Seymour was hanging toward the back of his formations too, but because he only had a few hits left, not because he wasn't still helping. Where needed, Seymour would spend juice to heal a unit or make a battle easier, but he wasn't engaging.

The battle carried on for a while longer, but there were no more major losses. No more close calls for Traz's leadership units. When the city's banners changed to the banners of Traz, everyone cheered, including Phineas. They had two of Ponchovilla's cities now. And Phineas felt they had actually earned this one.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Thu Sep 23, 2010 3:40 am

Phineas made his way through the crowd in the semi-darkness. He was carrying a plate of food and a bottle of wine that had been raided from Donegal's larder. Somewhere there was someone playing music, but it was difficult to hear over all the chatter and the crackling of the courtyard's bonfires. It was a victory celebration, celebrating the capture of Traz's second city on the mainland.

As he navigated the crowd, Phineas finally spotted the man he was looking for. Seymour the Florist. "I see you found the food too," Phineas quipped as he sidled up next to him.

Seymour tried to smile, but it didn't look quite right with a couple of his teeth missing and broken glasses that were missing one lens. Not to mention the stab wound on his stomach or the gash across his leg. The Hippimancer had had a rough battle. "Polly brought it for me," he finally said. "I don't know where she went off to now though..."

"No matter. I'm sure she'll be back." Phineas sat down on the log Seymour was resting on. Across the fire there was a small group of hermits chatting away, but they weren't paying the casters any attention. Phineas doubted any of them even spoke Language.

The two of them sat quietly for a while, munching on snacks and staring at the coals in the fire. But it was Seymour who eventually broke the silence. "You know that we lost Wysiwyg today? I was there when Prince Chip was talking to King Alec. While you were out looking for feral units." He said it so casually that Phineas almost didn't grasp what had been said. They had gained a level three city today, only to lose a level four.

When Phineas didn't respond, Seymour continued. "Not only that, but after our turn ended, a small column of enemy units was spotted from the tower. They will reach here after our next turn."

"That one I knew," Phineas said. "We will either have to meet them in the field, or prepare a defense here. Whatever Prince Chip decides." Suddenly the surrounding festivities lost their appeal, and everything seemed a bit more somber. "Got any good news?" Phineas asked sarcastically.

"Well..."

Phineas's ears perked up. He hadn't actually expected there to be any. "Yes?" he urged.

"Prince Chip received a thinkagram earlier today, also while you were out searching for feral units. It was a message from Pillsbourg informing the prince that they have agreed to oppose Ponchovilla as well. And they have already sent out some dough golems to threaten other Ponchovillan cities. No word from Dinoco yet."

Phineas considered what Seymour had just told him. "That certainly is good news." Even if their allies couldn't join them directly, they were still helping by forcing Poncovilla to focus their defenses on multiple fronts. Hopefully it would be enough to give Traz the edge they needed.

Phineas was about to ask another question, but Polly showed up just then, carrying a few long strips of cloth in one hand. "What are those for?" Phineas couldn't help but ask.

Even in the light of the fire, it was obvious that Polly's cheeks were turning red. "Well... Seymour is wounded. So I thought..." She shrugged.

Phineas couldn't help but laugh. "So you thought you would mend him up until the start of our turn? That's nice of you. How come you never did anything like that for me when I had a knife stuck in my shoulder?" Polly looked surprised and like she might actually run away out of embarrassment. Seymour shot Phineas a dirty stare and the Carnymancer hurried to make amends. "Sorry, sorry. I was just kidding around. I know you two are... well lets just say there is some obvious natural Date-a-mancy going on between you, and your natural Foolamancy is failing."

"Phineas!" Seymour exclaimed.

"Well? It's true, isn't it?" he asked.

Seymour looked at Polly questioningly, and Polly responded by kneeling down and started wrapping bandages around his leg. Then, almost inaudibly through all the background noise she asked Seymour, "Do you want it to be true?"

Seymour looked shocked for a moment as he stared at Polly, but then he turned toward Phineas with a look of defiance on his face. "Yes, it is true. Me and Polly, we are a couple." Polly still didn't look up and continued to wrap Seymour's leg, but now she had the biggest smile on her face that Phineas had ever seen.

"Well there you go. More good news for today." Phineas gave a wink, then took a swig from his bottle.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Sat Sep 25, 2010 4:02 am

Phineas was woken up with a swift kick to the ribs.

"Get up you scruffy monkey, the turn is about to start. You're in my stack today, so hop on a boar and fall in line." Phineas squinted upward to see Duke Chu Fuman staring down at him. The Carnymancer put a hand to his own chin before grabbing his things and standing up. He was indeed getting a bit scruffy in the whisker department, but that would change at the start of turn. He had no idea where the monkey comment had come from.

Phineas skirted around the remnants of last night's campfire and headed toward the unmounted boar with the highest stats. "Are we going out to search for feral units before the enemy attacks this afternoon?" Phineas asked the duke.

Chu raised an eyebrow. "That depends. Do you consider Ponchovillan units to be feral?"

"Umm." It took a moment for Phineas's tired brain to comprehend what Chu was saying. "Wait, you mean we are actually attacking them out in the field? When we have a whole city to use for defense?" The look on the warlord's face confirmed as much. "What in the world is Chip thinking?! I know Chip wants to get as much accomplished before the end draws in, but is waiting one turn going to matter that much? Why would he do something so... so..."

"I would clamp those lips tighter than a rock lobster's claw if you know what's good for you. We are marching this turn due to my advisement. Now mount up!"

Phineas did as he was told and climbed onto the bristly back of one of their remaining tidal boars. He wanted to ask more questions, but now did not seem like the right moment. He remained silent as their stack rode to the city's gate that was nearest to the enemy ranks. Even as they approached, the drawbridge was being lowered.

All around him were the units of Traz assembling. To the left was Polly and all of her misfit creations. To the right was Seymour and all of his botanical pets. Up above was Chip and the remnants of their air forces. In front was Eliza with Phineas's menagerie of tamed units. And pulling up in the rear were the remaining hermits and infantry. In the middle of it all was Duke Chu's stack, which included Phineas himself, but no other units with leadership.

Phineas was a bit disappointed by the waning number of Traz units that were neither beast nor animated object. But at least most of the infantry units that remained were higher levels than when they had left their island kingdom.

*Pop*

*Popopopopopopopopop*

All around him rations popped as their turn started. Phineas's clothes felt clean, his hair put in it's place, and his face clean-shaven. Even his breath felt more refreshing. The caster looked into his saddlebag to see what rations he got and found a pouch of trail mix next to a canteen. He opened the canteen and sniffed at its contents. Lemonade.

"Hup! Here we go." Chu's order caught Phineas's attention, and he looked forward just in time to catch himself before his boar moved forward. It wasn't long before they were out of the city and trudging through the soggy grasslands surrounding Donegal. It wasn't too pleasant, but at least it wasn't outright swamp terrain. They passed through a couple hexes before Phineas finally decided it was time to approach Chu again.

"So, why am I in your stack?" he asked the warlord nonchalantly. He figured he would try to ease into the bigger question, which had to do with why they were attacking their enemy in the field.

"You are the most pestilent subordinate." Chu pulled out a cigarette and lit it before answering. "You are with me because we are in the second wave. Chip didn't want any casters in the initial attack. We come in after the royalty ruffles their feathers. Says you'll be less likely to be targeted that way."

"But what about himself? And Eliza?"

"Pfft, that's their call. I don't understand it myself. If Chip croaks, then we all disband when King Alec croaks. If you croak, it frees up more shmuckers for the rest of our upkeeps. But apparently they still got the opinion that casters are too valuable to dangle in front of the hungry dwagon."

As much as Phineas hated to agree with Chu, he did have a point. "If it is so risky, then why did you urge them to fight out in the field in the first place?"

"Haha, I knew that one was coming." The duke blew a couple smoke rings. "It is a preemptive strike. To save us trouble later."

Phineas waited for more, but when he realized more wasn't coming he asked, "How would it save us trouble? We had that moat to hide behind, not to mention the garrison."

"What? Just like our enemy had last turn?"

"Yeah, but that was different. We had the advantage because we had water capable units that could get into the city without the bridges. We could shoot arrows at them from inside the moat."

"With what archery? And you don't think they would know what it takes to capture their own city? You forget, most of Ponchovilla lies on the coast. Aquatic assaults are their specialty. Which is another reason I suggested attacking right now. They stopped in a grassy hex. Neither of us will have the advantage, which gives us the advantage."

Phineas shot the warlord a questioning look but didn't comment on his logic. The Carnymancer had come to feel almost more like a warlord than a caster in recent turns, but he still wasn't familiar enough with battle strategy to know just how right or wrong the Chu was. "I suppose this way we at least have the option of retreat."

"Even better. This way we have the option to attack one hex at a time."
Bored? Read The Adventured of Melissa Ray. An Erfworld fanfic. comment here

Or A Tale From Traz. (Now complete!). comment here.
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cloudbreaker
 
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Tue Sep 28, 2010 4:46 am

"So what are we looking at here?" Phineas asked Duke Chu. They had arrived on a hillside bordering their enemy's nearest hex, of which they occupied two. Chip and Eliza, along with the other warlords, had already passed through to the other side and were just now engaging the enemy stacks. In a moment Phineas's own stack would go to join them, but he wanted to know what he was up against in the meantime.

"About time you asked." Chu was unnaturally calm, but his eyes never wavered from the battle in front of him as he replied to Phineas's question. "The little yellow things up above are duckies. Water capable flying units. Ponchovilla's only flying units, actually. They're really weak, but dangerous enough in large numbers. On the ground are the frogger heavies. Try not to let one land on you. One on one they are probably about as strong as a cloth golem or topiary. And behind the froggers, if you couldn't tell, is their infantry. Extending into the hex beyond as well. Now get ready. We charge soon."

Phineas Tightened his hat and drew his sword. It was still the same dull pewter color. Many spells had been cast since he had used its ability before the battle the previous day, but none of them cast this turn. That's the way it seemed to work, as far as he had figured. If a spell was cast in the same hex as the artifact, it would be charged with a copy of that spell and save it until needed. But once used, he would have to wait until the start of his next turn before it would copy another. Which meant that he had to choose his first spell carefully, and hope that Seymour and Polly didn't cast something useless in the meantime.

Chu's voice bellowed next to him. "Prepare to engage! Target the leadership! Move!" Every unit in their hex moved toward the hex boundary. Phineas watched as the boundary line got closer and closer, until eventually it was under his boar and he saw his mount's move go down. They were now a part of the battle.

Even with a warlord bonus, a chief warlord bonus, a stack bonus, and a sturdy beast beneath him, Phineas was technically no better than a low-level infantry unit in direct combat. Of course, he had Carnymancer abilities to help make up for it, but it was his actual spells that would have to help him survive facing one of the froggers. Especially a frogger with a warlord mounted atop it. Of which there were two in the hex.

Currently they were both preoccupied with their winning battle against Princess Eliza's forces, but that changed as soon as they saw the rest of Traz's units barreling toward them. Immediately they began belching orders to surrounding stacks. One of them broke off and lead their personal stack of heavies to engage Chu's stack, while at the same time sending froggers and duckies to harass Polly and Seymour.

"If you got any tricks," Chu yelled over the sounds of battle, "now would be the time to use them." Chu had his own weapon in hand, ready to swing it at the warlord's mount as it made it's final leap toward them.

But he never got the chance to swing it, because Phineas did have a trick. "Swikee!" the caster yelled, great flames erupting out of his mouth even as he finished saying the command word. The inferno connected with the frogger mid-leap, and when it met with the ground again, it was the dull thud of a croaked beast instead of a proper landing. Chu and Phineas rushed up to the soup-scented corpse and Chu quickly relieved the enemy warlord of her last few hits.

They didn't even have time to catch their breath, however, because the rest of the froggers from the warlord's stack were still there, albeit without their warlord or max stack bonus. Phineas flourished his sword toward them and his spell was copied by it, but it was no longer focused on a single target. They were injured, but still had plenty of hits left. Phineas was about to spend more juice to cast again, but stopped as Chu rushed in with his boar and sword. The other tidal boars in their stack rushed in too. And by now the regular infantry and hermits had caught up to join in the fray.

Phineas quickly scanned the area. He could see both Seymour and Polly fighting off their own swarms of froggers, taking cover behind walls of their own units. Chip looked to be struggling a little in the sky with the overwhelming number of duckies, but the imps and daredevil were croaking them in droves with their destructive specials. Duckies were falling to the ground all over the battlefield. It wouldn't be long before Traz had reasonable control over the skies.

He glanced over at Eliza's battle just as she was delivering the final blow to the second warlord. They would definitely win this battle. They just had to try and do it without loosing too many of their own forces.

However, now that there was no leadership among the enemy forces, it seemed to be a free for all. Stacks of units were attacking whatever was closest, or whatever was attacking them. There was little sense of logic to their battle plan now. They were as likely to attack our strongest, most coordinated stacks as they were to attack our weakest ranks. Phineas's head would have been spinning if he had tried to make sense out of it.

By the time they croaked everything in both enemy hexes and only Traz units remained, heavy losses had been taken. Much of their remaining infantry had been croaked. As well as many of their hermits and most of their tidal boars. Two mothras had fallen and quite a few of Phineas's tamed units had been slain. They had lost warlords Winfrey, Nukem, and Arbuckle, too. The only groups that were mostly intact were Seymour and Polly's forces, and that was only because they were able to heal many of them before they were destroyed.

But they had won, and their level three city was safe for another turn.

Before moving on, they harvested meat from their enemy's croaked units so they wouldn't need to spend so much on upkeep later. That night they feasted miserably upon enormous frogger legs and rubbery duckie meat. Phineas wasn't going to complain, but he really hoped it didn't become a common occurrence.
Bored? Read The Adventured of Melissa Ray. An Erfworld fanfic. comment here

Or A Tale From Traz. (Now complete!). comment here.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:10 am

Three days and three more of their turns had passed since Traz's preemptive strike against Ponchovilla's assailing forces. They had spent most of those turns trudging through the wilderness of Ponchovilla's battlespace, heading toward their next city. Luckily they hadn't yet seen any more large forces. Just random scouting stacks and other minor hinderances. If Ponchovilla gave another big push like they had back near Donegal, Traz's column probably would have fallen over.

Column. Yeah right. Their so called column now travelled in a single hex. Sure, they were still a force to be reckoned with, but a small force nonetheless. Phineas doubted they would even be able to take Junco now, a measly level one, if Ponchovilla had decided to send reinforcements.

Except they weren't headed to Junco.

It had taken Phineas more than two turns to realize it, and even now he wasn't positive, but it seemed they had veered in the direction of Ponchovilla's capital city. He could only guess as to why, but he intended to find out. With their own turn ended and sentries watching the hex boarders during their enemy's turn, Phineas headed toward one of the few tents left that hadn't been used for cloth golems. Prince Chip's command tent.

As Phineas approached the shelter's entrance, two swordsmen bared his way. "The prince is not to be disturbed unless it is an emergency," one of the guards informed Phineas.

"Oh come on. I don't have time for this. Just let me through." Neither guard moved, and he knew they wouldn't. They had their orders. "Can you at least tell me why he can't be disturbed?"

They looked uneasily at one another, but seemed to come to the eventual conclusion that they were allowed to tell the caster that detail. "He is discussing tactics with the other warlords."

Phineas grumbled audibly. Leave it to Chip to discuss tactics without one of his own tactical advisors. Phineas made sure to hold his emotions in check as he replied. "Does the prince know that his Chief Carnymancer, who was assigned as a tactical advisor by King Alec himself, is not present at this discussion?"

The knights exchanged more uneasy glances before one of them spoke up again. "Actually... he specifically mentioned that if you came to his tent, we should try to dissuade you from seeking an audience."

"Yeah, well, you're failing in that respect. I'll see you two shortly." And with that, Phineas turned and walked away.

He didn't walk far, however. Just to the back of Prince Chip's tent. Then he unsheathed his sword and cut a large vertical gash large enough to walk through.

"What is the meaning of this!" Chip yelled as Phineas stepped into the room. All of the warlords had turned to stare at their new guest. Eliza looked like she was trying not to giggle, Chu looked indifferent, and Wally, McFeely, and Vladmir all looked stunned.

Phineas sheathed his sword and tipped his hat in greeting to the two guards that rushed in, then said to Chip, "I was having trouble gaining access through the front door, so I thought I would try the rear. As one of your tactical advisors, I thought it would be irresponsible of me to miss this meeting."

This time it was Chip who grumbled audibly. "Stay out of it caster. We both know you don't have any interest in planning battles."

"All too true. But I certainly do enjoy surviving them. At any rate, that was not my main reason for intruding. I came to ask why we are headed toward Ponchovilla's capital instead of toward Junco." Phineas was expecting some surprised looks from the warlords, but it seemed they already knew that tidbit of information.

"Chip," Eliza started, but the prince held up a hand to silence her.

The prince stared at Phineas long and hard, eyes half squinted. He circled the caster slowly, looking him up and down as if he were sizing him up for the first time. It was making Phineas very uncomfortable. Finally Chip stopped right in front of Phineas, nearly nose to nose, and held up the pocket mirror right next to their faces. "If you are so desperate to know why we are headed where we are headed, perhaps you should ask the king himself." Chip took a step back, opened the mirror, and set it carelessly down onto the table. It spun around a couple times before its reflective face eventually rested in Phineas's direction.

After a couple moments of careful consideration, Phineas said, "Alright, I will. Mirror, mirror, on the table. Show the king if you are able." Everyone watched as the image shifted and Traz's mirror room came into focus. Phineas did not actually expect to see his king. He expected to see Grimhilde instead. But he saw neither. Sitting in front of the mirror was a simple sign that said "Be Back Soon?" It was the question mark that really baffled Phineas.

"What-" Phineas started to ask.

"Our capital has been under siege for two turns now," Chip supplied, closing the lid on the mirror. "We don't even know if the city will last another turn. It is a level five, so it has good defenses, but it is also under-maned with a lack of leadership. The king is actually out there leading stacks it is so bad."

"Oh," was all the reply Phineas could muster. He wasn't sure what an appropriate response to this sort of news should be. "So... that is why we are headed toward the city of Ponchovilla?"

"Yes," Eliza said. "We are hoping to make our last stand before it is too late. Unfortunately it will take two more turns before our column can reach the city. We may not have that long."

"We'll be barbarians by then," Phineas realized.

"Yeah," Chip continued. "So we don't appreciate when casters destroy a tent just to intrude on a meeting they weren't invited to so they can ask where we are going. If you are through with your meddling, I would like to get back to business here. So get out of here and-" Chip stopped abruptly and stared blankly into space. The shift was so sudden that nobody knew how to react to it. Everyone just stared at Chip as he stared at nothing.

"What's wrong?" Phineas finally asked. Chip seemed to snap out of it, but was still in a sort of daze.

"I... I'm king."
Bored? Read The Adventured of Melissa Ray. An Erfworld fanfic. comment here

Or A Tale From Traz. (Now complete!). comment here.
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Re: A Tale From Traz

Postby cloudbreaker » Sun Oct 10, 2010 4:33 am

Nobody in the room knew what to do. King Chip seemed to be sulking as he stared blankly at all the intel lying on the war table. Every once and a while someone would try to say something comforting or encouraging, but Chip would just shrug it off. For twenty more minutes it went on like this until the inevitable eventually happened. Their capital city had been captured. They were all barbarians now.

Chip pounded a fist against the table. "I want everyone out," the now ex-ruler said without looking up.

"Chip," Eliza replied gently, taking a step toward her nephew. "This is no time to lose your head. There is still a lot-"

"Please, just... don't argue."

She didn't. Eliza, the other warlords, and Phineas himself all exited Chip's tent one by one. Once outside Eliza spoke up again. "I know it is a tough time for all of us. I lost my brother today and we all lost our king. Our entire side. But like I already told Chip, we can't afford to lose our heads right now. I want to see everyone over by the fires in five minutes. Bring Polly and Seymour. The hermit chief too, I suppose. Not sure how helpful they'll be now that our alliance has dissolved." She waved everyone away then started heading toward the fires.

Phineas briefly considered following her to ask her some questions before the meeting, but he didn't know what it was that he wanted to ask. And so he wandered off into the late afternoon sunshine to search for Polly, Seymour, or the hermit chief.

He found none, but was instead found himself by Bub, the daredevil. His three groupies were notably absent this time. "What now?" Phineas asked, immediately annoyed. "This is not a good time."

"What, no hello? No comments on the nice day we are having? Come now, where are your manners?" Bub hovered next to Phineas as the caster continued to trudge within the hex, looking for his targets.

Phineas didn't even bother to make eye contact as he responded. "Even you aren't so oblivious that you don't notice we are all barbarian units now. Which means this isn't just a social visit. Cut to the chase."

"Fine, fine. Although I don't get why you are so upset when you knew this was coming. The capital was under siege for two turns, you know. We were bound to go barbarian sooner or later."

Phineas stopped in his tracks and looked up at the daredevil. "Wait, how did you know the capital was under siege? I just found out a few minutes ago." The glorified imp just smirked and Phineas remembered who he was talking to. "Never mind. Get on with it." He continued his trudging.

"Hehe, well, I don't know what our column is going to do now. Probably merc work or something, right? Anyway, I imagine there are going to be some... Some schmucker-saving decisions."

Phineas stopped again. "You are worried that you are going to be disbanded." It wasn't a question, but a realization. "You know that you are an expensive unit, and worse, an expensive unit that nobody likes. You know that if there is disbanding to be done, you and your little lackeys are at the top of the list." For the first time since meeting Bub, Phineas saw an expression of uneasiness cross the daredevil's face.

"So I was thinking-"

"Don't," Phineas interrupted. "Don't ask me to put in a good word for you. Don't ask me to try and bargain for your inclusion when the time comes to cut back our forces. In all honesty, despite your obviously valuable abilities, you are expensive. You are hard to get along with. And I don't know if it would be wise to keep you around."

Bub pursed his lips angrily and crossed his arms. He then proceeded to float to a point just in front of Phineas, and to the caster's surprise, landed. Phineas was stunned to realize that he had never seen Bub step foot on the ground before. And now, as they stood face to face, the daredevil seemed all the more taller because of it. "We have feelings you know."

The words were so quiet and unexpected that without even thinking, Phineas said, "What?"

"You talk about me and the imps like we are statues. Just pieces of stone to be discarded if someone views us as ugly."

"I didn't mean-"

"It doesn't matter if you meant it. It is true. Tell me, oh wise one, why did King Alec refuse to pop more units of my type?"

Phineas wondered what Bub was getting at, but he answered nonetheless. "Aside from the expensive upkeep, and long pop times? Imps and daredevils have a tendency to misinterpret orders intentionally, or even outright disobey them and get themselves disbanded. Additionally, you guys tend to pop with personality... quirks, that make you hard to get along with on a social level."

"That is a reason not to pop many, sure. But none? Come on. You expect me to believe that?" Bub had a point. They had specials out the wazoo.

"Alright, then what is the reason?" Phineas asked, crossing his own arms.

"The reason is that it was because of daredevils and imps that King Alec and Princess Eliza's father, King Baldwin, was incapacitated with no access to Healomancy. It was the insubordination of some other daredevils and imps that led to his downfall." Phineas had never heard this story before. He wasn't present at Kind Baldwin's last stand, and the events had never been given to him in detail.

"But," Bub continued. "Do you know why King Alec insisted that Chip bring us with on this expedition?"

"Not a clue."

"Because it was due to three imps and one daredevil present in this very hex that King Baldwin wasn't croaked outright during that same battle."

"Wait, wait, wait." Phineas wasn't sure if he could believe this. "You and the imps saved King Baldwin?"

"Weren't you listening? No, we didn't save him. But we did keep him from croaking before the end of the turn came. And we weren't the only ones who helped protect him. But of the ones who were protecting him we were the only ones who survived."

"And that is why King Alec put up with you?"

"And that is why King Alec put up with us." Bub took to the air again and uncrossed his arms. "So as you can see, we are no mere statues decorating the court. I would appreciate if you would keep that in mind."

"Yeah, I will," Phineas said honestly. "However, the decision to keep you around ultimately is not up to me. And I'm not sure my recommendation is worth much anyway. Chip would be the one to make the decision, and he doesn't respect me very much either."

"He doesn't respect you, but the other casters do. Eliza does. Maybe even the captured warlord that you turned."

"What, really?" Phineas knew that he got along well with three of the four, but respect is not a word he would have used to describe any of their relationships. At the very least, not to describe their views toward himself.

Phineas shook his head clear. He didn't have time to be thinking about this. He was running late for a meeting as it was. Which brought up an interesting possibility...

"You know, Bub, if you want to show your value rather than your expense, maybe you should come with me to this meeting. I'm sure you could throw a unique perspective on things." The daredevil raised an eyebrow but didn't say anything. "What, afraid it won't be the same if you aren't eavesdropping?"

A pleasantly wicked smile crossed the guy's face. "I'll be there."
Bored? Read The Adventured of Melissa Ray. An Erfworld fanfic. comment here

Or A Tale From Traz. (Now complete!). comment here.
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