Dirty Fighting

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Dirty Fighting

Postby Kaed » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:42 pm

Hey, I wanted to try my hand at some fanfiction. :) Here we go, first part!
____
Dirty Fighting

Some days, you just wonder why you bothered waking up that morning.

John’s breakfast rations popped on the nightstand next to him, and the smell was what woke him up more than anything else. Bacon and eggs, and chunks of sausage. A hearty breakfast by any standards, and the dirtamancer ate it there quickly, expecting he would be called soon by Grace for a meeting. Time was, he would eat breakfast with the King and Chief Warlord. Those times were gone, along with John’s juice and peace of mind, nearly every day. Zill’s war against Felis was hard and fierce, and was picking up in the last half dozen turns or so. It was nice of them to let him get in some extra sleep, though. Helped him concentrate when he did his work.

He had just about finished breakfast when their Thinkamancer summoned him to the Meeting Hall as expected. The caster wolfed down the last bit of Peeg sausage and stood up, rubbing his eyes, and straightening his back. The Chief Dirtamancer of Zill had an image to keep, exhausted or not. John picked up his Toolbox as he walked out the door, smiling faintly as he gave it a shake and listened to its contents rattle. It was a good sound, an honest sound.

If only the rest of Erf were that honest.

-----

Well, the first thing John noticed when he came into the meeting hall was that everyone was staring at him. Grace was there, standing next to King Duke as usual, and so was the serious-looking Grumper, their Chief Warlord. Even Cassie had come out of her lair in the dungeons, presumably at the behest of the King. And all of them watched John enter the meeting hall with an ominous silence. The dirtamancer sat down at his seat, putting his Toolbox on the table in front of him with a clank, and looking between the others there with a frown. “What’s all this then, fellas? Did we lose another city? Somebody important croak?”

There was another brief silence in which the King’s eyebrow twitched, before he finally cleared his throat and spoke. “It seems, Dirtamancer Deere, that we have finally discovered why Felis has brought so much pressure on us of late. And why they have made demands to surrender you in exchange for a peace treaty.”

Well, this was news to John. No one had told him Felis was demanding him in exchange for stopping hostilities. If anything, they were getting more hostile. Obviously the King had not seen fit to have anyone mention this little detail to him until just now. Were all the casualties his fault then, for not joining Felis? John’s voice tightened slightly, but he maintained his courtesy. “That’s... right good of you to tell me, your highness. What’s going on, then?”

King Duke rolled his shoulders, giving John a frown. Well, that was pretty ominous in itself, there. The King almost never frowned, especially not like that, like he was puzzled somehow. When he spoke, it was slow and careful, like the King was trying his best to sound neutral. “Are you aware of the Royal Crown Coalition, John?”

The dirtamancer rubbed his chin thoughtfully at the apparent subject change, but he did remember that name from hearsay a while back, and he nodded. “Mmm, I reckon I do, your highness. Ain’t that the big alliance a buncha royals put together way over in the west to take out the feller with the Arkentool? Didn’t seem right to me, everyone ganging up on a feller like that, but I reckon that’s old history now, and he’s long gone.”

The King nodded, smiling faintly, and very briefly. He folded his hands in his lap, looking at the table in front of him, as if he was having a hard time meeting John’s gaze “Yes, that’s correct. But... news has finally reached us about that war, and it seems it has also reached Felis. You see, the Royal Crown Coalition is gone. It was completely destroyed in one turn.”

John just stared at his King, at a lost for words, awed at such an idea and wondering what it had to do with him. He didn’t like where this topic was going, because it apparently concerned him. “Arright, your highness. I guess that Arkentool was pretty darn powerful, then, to end a battle that quickly.”

Everyone looked away from John at that point, except the King, who shook his head. “Actually, it had nothing to do with the Arkenhammer. From what rumors say, it was a single spell. A Dirtamancy trap.”
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Re: Dirty Fighting

Postby Kaed » Tue Jan 17, 2012 9:11 pm

John was baffled. He knew well enough about traps and dirtamancy and any combination thereof – it was his life’s work, after all! But he had never heard of one that could take out an entire allied army at once. That would require an unimaginable amount of juice... right? “I don’t mean to tell you your business, your highness, but are you sure about that? A trap like that would need to be several hexes wide, and frankly, that’s blamed impossible.” He lifted his Toolbox and gave it a shake demonstratively, as if prhaps he needed to remind everyone present who was talking here. “I can and have trapped up our city and the surrounding hexes, but that’s a dozen, and more traps. Separate ones. Not one... enormous... Titans fist of a thing. I’m thinkin’ them rumors are exaggerated.”

The King shook his head, looking sober, but Grace smiled at John, if a little sadly. “No, John. It’s no mistake. Several of the sides in the Coalition reported the same thing. Our contacts in distant FoxMud agreed when I had Grace get hold of them. They didn’t have much in the alliance, mostly infantry and Elves, but they lost everything they put in too.” The ruler leaned forward, furrowing his brows as he peered across the table at the dirtamancer. “There can be no doubt about what happened, even if the details are incomplete. The entire Royal Crown Coalition was destroyed by a single Dirtamancy trap, and yes, across multiple hexes. And now we, and others who use Dirtamancers, are being targeted, in fear or greed!”

John watched as the King slammed his fist down on the table, more in frustration than anger – but King Duke so rarely lost his temper that it made everyone present jump. The dirtamancer started to stand, but then Cassie took the opportunity to finally speak up. Her soft voice seemed to have a kind of calming effect on the tensions in the room, and all paused to look at the Predictamancer. “John, please sit down. There is no point in arguing with his majesty here. We must move forward, and look to the future now. Fate has brought us new hardships, and we must face them, not deny their existence.”

John scowled at the woman briefly, but he sat down. The woman’s predictions always struck him as a mite bit unbelievable, but he couldn’t deny that she helped out the side. And the King trusted her, so there was no really good reason to ignore her. He had lead them this far, hadn’t he? The dirtamancer straightened his Toolbox and listened as she continued. “The Kingdom of Zill is in grave danger, your majesty. I have seen our Fate, and it will be hard. The Queen of Felis will seek allies to join with her against us. The fear of another Battle of Gobwin Knob is a terrible motivation, and others will seek to destroy us or gain that power for themselves.”

John spoke up, interrupting the rambling predictamancer, throwing up his arms. “Cassie, we don’t even rightly know what they did! For all we know, this Arkenhammer helped or did it all. Ain’t those Arkentools supposed to be the Tools of the Titans? I’m telling you, it just don’t add up as proper Dirta-“

The King held up a hand calmly, and the dirtamancer lapsed into sullen silence so that his Ruler could speak. “Whether you understand how it was done has little to do with Cassandra’s Predictions, John. The point is, we are going to be attacked on at least two sides soon. Whether we know how to do it or not, someone will doubtless find what happened out soon enough, and those of us who have Dirtamancers will be destroyed or have ours taken. For the ‘safety of all’, no doubt.” The King stood up, putting his hands on the table. “I have no intention of giving up without a fight, however. The Kingdom of Zill has stood the test of time, and it will continue to. John, I want you to go to the Magic Kingdom today, and see if you can find out more about what happened at Gobwin Knob. I am sure you can find someone who knows. This meeting is dismissed. Grumper and Grace, come with me, we need to discuss tactics.” The King walked away with his retinue, leaving Cassie and John alone together. The dirtamancer glared at her, though it really wasn’t her fault, then grabbed his Toolbox and stormed out of the room by himself.
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Re: Dirty Fighting

Postby Kaed » Wed Jan 18, 2012 11:47 am

Zill’s portal to the Magic Kingdom was a pleasing green color, set into an ornate frame in the dungeons. John had heard some designed theirs to be imposing or didn’t bother to at all, but being Chief Dirtamancer of Zill, he had some say in the matter. As far as he was concerned, the portal should be inviting, and he had designed it that way when their side had first opened it. Ornate swirls of multicolored stone covered the frame around their portal, and nestled in the corners were several designs of things from inside his Toolbox – the Furrowing Spade, the Leveling Mallet, among others. The dirtamancer paused outside it to examine his handywork, and it calmed him down. This was real dirtamancy here, not mysterious and impossible super-traps used to kill thousands in an inescapable instant. A good trap was a deterrent to combat, not a horrifying weapon of war… Right?

John sighed and shook his head, stepping through into the Magic Kingdom.
---
Portal Park was as packed as it had always been, strewn with hundreds of portals, and sprinkled with the casters walking to and from their home, or simply meeting up to chat. John had sometimes lingered here himself, but today he had business that would take him into the outer parts of the Kingdom. Dirtamancers were rare, even here, and he would be unlikely to find any wondering around in Portal Park. No, he was off to the visit the Stuffamancer’s area. It was a direction he didn’t normally go unless he needed to, because it was nestled between the Stagemancers and the Naughtymancers… those first ones were alright, mostly, but the second group… well, they gave John a serious case of the shivers. And by a frustrating design choice at some point – or perhaps mischief on someone’s part - he had to pass through Naughtymancer territory on the way to the Stuffamancer’s.

He reached the outskirts of portal park, stopping where the path darkened and became twisty, with trees looming overhead on either side ominously. This was where the Naughtymancer grounds started, and it was a short several minute walk to get through. John hefted his Toolbox up between his arms and took it at a loping jog. The sooner he was out of here, the better.

Well, either the damned Naughtymancers could smell fear on the wind, or John’s Toolbox clanked and rattled louder than he thought, because two of them stepped out from behind the trees that he had been almost certain had not been there before. The damned witches must have been waiting for him. He recognized one of them, the one wearing a black dress and chewing that wad of pink junk she seemed to always have, but he didn’t recognize the other in skintight red leather, with a blond ponytail tied back tightly. She had some kind of necklace on, with a little rod on the end. The shockamancer in black grinned at him and spoke, drawing out her words in a lazy drawl. “Hellooo, John. It’s been a while. You hardly eeever visit.” She stuck out her tongue in an entirely inappropriate manner and blew a large bubble with her pink wad, which popped with a deafening bang. John scowled at her. “Janet. I’m a little too busy for this today.”

The one in red that John figured was also a shockamancer by her appalling garb raised her eyebrows in mock surprise, looking to her collaborator. “Did you hear that, Janet? He’s just too busy for us. Such a rude, naughty boy.” The woman fixed him with a dangerous look, and John wasn’t sure if she was joking. “I think you should stay and talk to us, dirtamancer.” John’s lips tightened into a thin line, and he straightened his shoulders. He was tempted to just shove past them, but that was simply poor etiquette, even if they were reprehensible and irresponsible characters up to who knew what sort of mischief. If he couldn’t get them to go away, then he’d try and get some use out of them. “Arright. Let’s talk. I’m here to find out about what happened at Gobwin knob, ladies. Can y’help me out here, and tell me anything you know about it?”

Janet frowned at him, put off enough by the question to stop chewing her pink wad for a few moments. Then she shrugged her shoulders, but still looked a little perturbed as she glanced at her companion. “Isn’t that where that creepy Wanda girl hangs out?” The blond naughtymancer shrugged back, running a hand through her tied-back hair. “Maybe. I’ve only ever seen her once, she doesn’t come around very often…”

The dirtamancer sighed, shaking his head. He was wasting his time here – he had no idea who this Wanda was, and she was likely completely unrelated to his mission here today. Therefore, this was a waste of his time. “Ladies, we’ve had our talk now. Can you please let me through now? I really don’t have all turn to waste here.” The two casters frowned at him, but stepped aside with varying levels of sullen silence. John gave them a nod and walked on through. Soon he would be with the other Stuffamancers, and he could put this silly distraction out of his mind.
-----
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Re: Dirty Fighting

Postby Kaed » Mon Jan 23, 2012 11:01 pm

[sorry for the delay D: More to come soon.]

The section of the Magic Kingdom devoted to Stuffamancers was much more inviting than the little stretch of Naughtymancer turf he had passed through. The spooky forest gave way to an expanse of well-tended paved paths and unusual but well-made structures. Most casters were content with living in whatever was available, but when one was capable of actually shaping their own home to personal tastes, it gave motivation to make sure everything was just right. Also, it gave the dirtamancers something to do with their time when they weren’t off being employed by the other casters to fix bridges and any other sorts of repair or construction jobs. Went one wanted Stuff done or made, they came to the Stuffamancers, ha ha.

John didn’t have a home, house or otherwise in the Magic Kingdom. Usually that sort of thing was done by casters who did not have a side, the homeless and the mercenaries – or the ones who were really powerful. The Kingdom was big, but not so big that every caster could afford to have their own little sanctum. And this dirtamancer didn’t think he warranted having one, being a only a Level 5 and an Adept-class caster.

He spent some time there asking around for information of how one made a doom-trap out of dirtamancy, or information on Gobwin Knob. He was met for the most part with bafflement, if not outrage at the idea. Many dirtamancers – though he had to admit that their total was not very high – seemed to think their class was above such sordid affairs as directly destroying that many enemies, and they pointed the way back to the Naughtymancers if he wanted to talk about offensive Magic. The dittomancers were lost too, but one made a suggestion about copying boulders rolled down a mountain to achieve similar effects, which John found terribly unhelpful, because he was expected to be able to actually perform this miraculous act. And he was certainly no dittomancer. As for the changemancers... well. They weren’t even interested in the question, and he stopped trying after the third brush-off. He’d never really cared for their sort anyway, even if they were technically Stuffamancers too.

So it was that John tromped back to his home portal. No more Naughtymancers accosted him on the way, which turned out to be a blessing, because Grace contacted him halfway through the spooky wooded path and urgently ordered him to return to Anairo and to the meeting room. He lifted his Toolbox between his arms and took off at a jog again. He was worried, but not terribly surprised. This wouldn’t be the first time that he got called back because of an impending battle.

When he stepped back through into the capital, he found the dungeon halls... empty. Even the usual guards located near the portal were missing, presumably having all been pulled away to... defend perhaps? That was not a very reassuring sign. John hurried off to the appointed location, hoping things were not dreadfully serious... but when he neared the meeting room, he heard shouting. And it was the King this time, ominously enough. “-sumed we would have a few more turns, Cassandra! Why didn’t you give us this Prediction earlier? Now we’re out of time to make plans, and they’re all going to... John!” King Duke broke off his tirade at the cowering Predictamancer when his missing caster entered, and gave a desperate look. “Tell me you have good news for me. Did you find out what Gobwin Knob did?”

The dirtamancer blinked at his King, taken aback by the unusual show of emotion. Their ruler was never this discomposed. “No, yer highness. No one there has any idea what happened. I reckon something went on beyond regular dirtamancy. I’m sorry.” John paused briefly as the King seemed to wilt on the spot, his shoulders slumping. “What’s happened? It’s still our turn, nobody could be attacking us, yer highness...”

The king waved a hand dismissively, sitting down heavily in his throne-like seat, and taking a moment to compose himself before answering. Cassie stared silently at the floor as he spoke, looking very upset. “As our... Predictamancer... has mentioned, rather belatedly, Felis has made an alliance. With three other kingdoms, in fact.” King Duke sighed, folding his hands on the table and staring straight ahead in a kind of blank manner. “I received a thinkagram a short time ago from Queen Oriana, who has been decided as their spokesperson. They have decided that if I will not surrender you, they will destroy our kingdom. They are only a few turns away from reaching us now.”
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Re: Dirty Fighting

Postby Kaed » Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:33 pm

The meeting dissolved soon after that dreadful announcement, and the casters were dismissed so the King could discuss tactics with his Chief Warlord. Cassie was sent to spend all her juice in the next remaining turns charging the air defenses in the tower, and remaining in her room otherwise. King Duke mentioned that she should come to him with any more predictions, but it was clear from this event that he had lost his faith in her. The warning had just come too late, and John wasn’t himself Cassie wasn’t at fault here. When she told them her prediction it had likely already been in progress if not in the past. Either she had failed to have a prediction and made this one up in a stunningly display of natural Luckamancy, or she had withheld information from their ruler. Crucial information, at that.

John, for his part, had orders to strengthen the defenses and prepare what traps he could this turn, using his juice as efficiently as possible. He could tell the King was disappointed by his lack of success in gathering information, but for the time being the dirtamancer was shielded from most of his ire by Cassie and the impending attack. It was also just as clear that he had no intention of surrendering the dirtamancer to his longstanding foe, alliance or not. John had a few misgivings there, but it was not his place to say how the kingdom was run.

So it was he stood in the courtyard outside several minutes later, and summoned his worker golems. John looked around while he waited and pondered what to do with his juice this turn. They had a tunnel system underneath the capital, but the Anairo Mines were not terribly extensive. This mountain was not rich in gems, but what was there was high-value. The city was located on the side of the mountain, very near the base really, so they had other sources of income that were more profitable, despite having a swell dirtamancer present. And the tunnels themselves had been thoroughly trapped by John many turns ago, and could be all collapsed with only a modest use of juice, if really needed. No, the only parts of the city that needed stronger defense were the air and the ground. Well, John had little he could do with the former, and Cassie was on that anyway, so... he would be working with the courtyard and walls this turn.

Fortunately, in this case, the Titans had provided. While the mountain was lacking in plentiful gems, it was rich in materials suitable for golem-making. Many sides possessing dirtamancers made due with crap and rock golems. Zill, on the other hand, was heavy on the metal golems. John had found enough raw material for over a dozen of them, in thick veins all through what parts of the mountain he had bored into. And as the massive golems approached, the various infantry in the courtyard scurried aside to make room for them. He recalled the flash of insight many turns back when he had given half of the fourteen metal golems various items from his Toolbox as hands. Two had picks for hands, another two had hammers, and the last three ‘special’ metal golems had shovels. This allowed them to manually, if much more slowly, perform basic forms of dirtamancy without John needing to spend juice on it. He suspected it cut a little off their attack power though. Not that it mattered too much. Metal golems had truly monstrous defense and attack in the first place, and a hefty amount of hits to go by. Their own downside that John had noticed was it was awfully expensive to repair them with his juice.

They had the usual smattering of rock – mostly hard, as this mountain did not contain much soft rock - and crap golems, mostly at the insistence of the King some turns ago when he had felt fourteen metal golems was hardly a perfect and complete defense. But there were also three unique and unusual golems that John had created from what he found in the mountain. These ‘Gold golems’ were only about the size of a Heavy knight-class infantry, with slightly better attack and hits. However, they possessed a natural form of moneymancy that provided the treasury with a decent amount of Schmuckers every turn. Each one was like a small mine in themselves, and one of the other dirtamancers in the Magic Kingdom had told him they could also be sacrificed for a generous amount of direct Schmuckers. Thus far, they had never been in such dire trouble that they had needed to. That might well change in the near future, though. He had not summoned any of them, though, as they were of no direct help with building defenses.

John lead his golem crew out the front gates and set the Tool Golems to work widening and deepening their moat. It was really more of a trench than anything else, because they had no river nearby they could use to fill it. At the very least, it made attacking the wall with large siege difficult, though. The golems set to work breaking apart the mountain’s rock to improve the moat. It required all of them to do it effectively, the pick-hands breaking the rock off, the hammers smashing it, and the shovellers cleaning away the remains to tumble down the mountain. They would take care of that in the next couple turns at most. John, however, had decided he would work on the wall. He turned to the sweeping and high walls of the Level 5 capital city, and opened his Toolbox.
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