Part 15 of 20 in Ethereum

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Spidewman, Spidewman, does whatever a spidew can!

Kicks a head, any size, catches stabbers just like flies!

Look out! Here comes the Spidewman!

 

Charlotte and Riley singing would have been rather more heart-warming if they hadn’t been riding Riley’s latest project, which looked human in much the same way that a patchwork quilt resembles a pile of shirts, but they were both excellent singers, Riley in particular being unreasonably good for a Healomancer, and it was reassuring that they at least were still in good spirits despite the festering swamps to either side of the road.

 

Neither had been with the earlier attack on Ellesstee, having helped the raids on Helyo Sentry and Maria Avenue instead, and they had reason to be confident. Not only were they all together, rather than having been parcelled out to attack four different cities at once, but they had proper support for a change. They had finally brought two stacks of Mal’s knights to the front, who were seven plus a warlord to a Weirdomancied daemon. The daemons weren’t physically large enough to seat eight, so those stacks were uncomfortably bunched up, holding each other in place and half sitting in the other half’s laps. One of the knights was actually an uncroaked prisoner; they had executed and raised the last prisoners in Wolf’s Lair that Pete couldn’t turn when they moved out.

 

Behind them rode the casters and their special units. Nine turns ago, they had gone on a similar march to destroy Lady Thursday’s army, in a chaotic mob of ad-hoc stacks. Now they were in an orderly column, organised to optimise bonuses. May and Grim were riding daemons and stacked with their cloth golems on the left wing, with Tom and Koume holding the rear. James was stacked with his ferals on the right, along with Charlotte, the Healomancers, and the Croakamancers, appraising the knights with interest. Jess was in the centre and back a few lengths, riding double with a tongue-tied Loony and stacked with Hedera and Pete, who would be sitting out until he managed to turn Suss, their only outstanding prisoner; NV was riding double with her, with Flacutono a few paces behind. All the casters were covered in May’s black robes, proof against magical assault and with minor bonuses to defence.

 

Pete had managed to turn both Ladies Thursday and Jane. Thursday was a level higher, but had ‘minor loyalty issues’ which Pete had recommended they not test by ordering her to exterminate her former side, so they had made the former pirate Jane Chief Warlady for the bonus and brought her and Lord Spear, the dull promote who was the last surviving unit of Bell-End, other than whatever prisoners Pro Toast had taken for their Turnamancer. Thursday, who had the all-living stack and the position on the left, further from Riley, twisted in her saddle to address May.

 

As Chief Caster, do you have any advice or orders for dealing with Fate casting units?” she asked.

 

Sharkey’s report had come in that morning that their target, Bogchog, was defended properly for a change, by three sides. Pro Toast was still using all infantry; according to Thursday, doctrine was to only pop heavies after a decisive victory, which hopefully meant never. They were supported by another capital side which she identified as Shakepikee, the parent side from which Pro Toast had fissioned as a colony when they took too many cities from Hiller; Shakepikee had brought heavies, the same sorts Pro Toast had attacked Ethereum city with. The third side was several stacks of fairies, Shakepikee’s mostly-female race of natural allies with limited casting from the Fate-aligned disciplines.

 

May shrugged, indifferent. “Croak them first; they cast, after all. Try to keep them away from me, they probably have a bonus to unravel these. If the other units try to screen them, I’ll take point and cut you a path. Or just call Tom.”

 

Don’t coup de grâce any fallen units near them,” Arthur offered. “They might uncroak them ahead of me and Saito.” Saito nodded. “They aren’t real Croakamancers, they won’t be able to do it properly and the units will be weak, but it’ll still be one fewer corpse for us.”

 

Riley broke off her song. “Don’t coup de grâce anyone at all,” she said sternly. “We’re ending turn in the city and won’t be able to reach another city next turn. I want to make another golem.”

 

Don’t even finish off the heavies?” Arthur said, mostly to annoy her: he couldn’t uncroak them anyway.

 

Nah, that’s,” she began, then cut herself off with a thoughtful look. “Especially heavies. Hey, Charlotte, can I have a pencil and paper? I want to sketch something.” Charlotte conjured the items and handed them over, and she began a cartoonish drawing of what might charitably be described as the love child of a giant squid, the front half of a pig, and a chandelier.

 

Natural allies never have enough Changemancy to be useful,” Charlotte said. “Their Healomancy and Thinkamancy probably aren’t very powerful either, and let’s face it, I don’t think anyone has had to worry about Signamancy ever.” She ticked the eight disciplines off on her fingers. “That leaves Predictamancy and Carnymancy.”

 

Hey, how come we don’t have either of those?” Riley asked, absently writing notes to self in her messy script, such as ‘Graft polydactyly for + attacks, w poison fingernails? Talk 2 Heddy’ and ‘Extreme tension along tendons @ gimbals: bring duct tape’.

 

Carnies are all crooks and most have this weird thing going on with Charlescomm, dunno why,” Charlotte said. “You can’t trust them. And Predictamancers … you’re right, why don’t we have any of those? Did any even ask to join?”

 

There was a pause.

 

They did not,” Tom said.

 

There was another pause while they considered the implications of the only people not willing to join their side being the same ones who knew in advance what would happen there.

 

Ah. Because of Gus,” he deduced. “If it had been publicly Predicted when you all joined Ethereum –”

 

Except me!” Riley said cheerfully.

 

“– yes, dear, except you – that we would eventually be exiled from the Magic Kingdom, you’d have been reluctant to join, I wouldn’t have got enough people to beat Thursday, and the side would have fallen on its second or even first turn. And if they had failed to Predict something so important, I would have thrown them off the side, and they’d suffer the same fate as poor Marvin.”

 

Does Predictamancy work like that?” Charlotte asked. “Jess? If they knew he’d get captured, couldn’t they have just told us not to attack Ellesstee back then?”

 

Jess shrugged. “The Hocus Pocus casters aren’t a big happy family like the Stuffamancers. Predictamancers have this little clique, they never tell the rest of us anything about how they work. From what I’ve heard, some events are inevitable, but details aren’t. Maybe Gus was always going to be captured and turned one way or another, or maybe it was that someone was and it could as easily have been May, or maybe it was just that something would happen that would give the guilds the evidence they needed.”

 

May tittered. “Kid, I’ve portalled from one end of Erfworld to the other, and I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen anything to make me believe there’s one all-powerful Fate controlling everything. Predictamancy’s a hot discipline full of cowards.”

 

Huh?” Charlotte said.

 

Short-term Prediction is real enough, I’ve seen trance fights enough times. They can see strikes before they happen, cheat at cards, use it to guess what you’re thinking. They’re fine at hot casting, they’re just too chicken to do it. Anything longer than that is impossible, or at least takes more juice than anyone short of master has, and can only see bits of a turn or two in the future. So they have this cosy little conspiracy with the Carnymancers where they say Fate controls everything, the Predictamancers read Fate, and the Carnies control it.”

 

Don’t Predictions actually come true, though?” said Charlotte.

 

May scoffed. “Which ones? ‘This side will eventually fall’? Every side falls. Give me a timetable or go back to the Short Pier where you belong. Let me tell you a story. I knew this king with a Dirtamancer who spent his time fortifying cities. His enemies had no idea how to counter that, so he was doing well, and he wanted to know what else magic could do. So he hired a Predictamancer. This Predictamancer said his capital would be attacked by air, so then he hired a Carnymancer to tell him how to save their side, and she told him to hire Charlescomm to fake an attack on them.”

 

Oh, Titans,” Tom groaned, beginning to laugh. “Don’t tell me he bought that.”

 

She grinned. “I said I knew him past tense for a reason. Charlie got paid,” she said, five other people chiming in on the last word. “The Predictamancers didn’t see Gus getting Gussied, they just knew something would go wrong sooner or later, even casters have setbacks, and we aren’t superstitious warlord idiots who’d believe whatever vague ‘your side has a troubled Fate’ line they tried to hedge with. Or maybe they knew that I knew that, and would make them come with us hot casters and get their hands dirty.”

 

Us hot casters,” Arthur grumbled good-naturedly. Dollamancers were generally considered to be cold, but as a level nine, May could classify herself however she wanted.

 

They crossed the hex border, and the city of Bogchog came into view just past the next. As Miles had reported, Pro Toast had left it at level three and even fortified it, upgrading the walls half to a level four and filling it with defenders, some of whom were even now blowing alarums and rushing to their posts. There were three eight-stacks of pikers and two of archers, in an orderly formation that indicated warlords behind the walls.

 

Any last-minute intel from the capital?” Tom asked Loony.

 

She started, then scribbled a note and abjured it through her hat. A moment later, Miles’ reply came back. “No, nothing’s changed. He says go.”

 

Tom nodded. “Things don’t seem so great for Ethereum right now, do they? We lost Gus, NV was ambushed, the guilds outmanoeuvred us in the Magic Kingdom. It’s been a string of setbacks. Never mind that at the same time, we captured or razed four cities and croaked one caster and captured another. We still lost momentum, and we’ve been sitting around letting Pro Toast rebuild its army. Even if we’ve done likewise,” he gestured at their new units, the knights and new ferals and May’s fourth cloth golem and Riley’s mount, “we don’t have their production capacity. So it feels like we’ve given up the advantage. But this is an illusion. There is one immutable difference between them and us, that they will never overwhelm.

 

We are Ethereum.”

 

He paused. Other Rulers might have gone over the perfection of their sides, but he didn’t. It was self-evident.

 

So let them mass their infantry, their Men with sharpened sticks, and see how well they do against an entire side of casters working together for common cause. I can tell you now how it will go, of course. It will go just like every other time our combined might has met them in battle. This fight was over before it began. All that’s left to do is to beat it through their thick skulls.

 

So start the music,” he ordered.

 

The knights hopped off their mounts and stretched and spread out, giving the uncroaked a wide berth. Charlotte tapped her thigh and began blowing into a little conjured trumpet. Jess dismounted, knelt, closed her eyes, and began searching for a body to project. Hedera walked past the knights, who drew their swords and held them out for her; she touched each blade, making them shine poison green. NV waved up at the battlements and veiled himself. Jess’ body slowly manifested: a giant as tall and as wide as Bogchog’s gate, humanoid, ink-black skin traced with curling silver, long claws and a snarl, and a bizarre crystal sphere for its midsection, giving it a look of grotesque obesity. Loony gave her damage reduction and rage (every time she took damage, +1 combat until end of turn), and fell back to the rear; Jess stacked up with Charlotte. Hedera reached up on tiptoes to touch Jess’ claws, and envenomed them too. Flacutono cast a mass displacement over the casters.

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an army that wishes to be victorious in pitched battle must make its bulk out of basic infantry, particularly stabbers, bolstered by leadership. Mathamancers demonstrated conclusively a long time ago that they hold the advantage over an equal weight of almost any other kind of poppable unit, with a very few over-specialised exceptions like Man-eating chickens. They have high casualties, but in any serious battlefield, casualties are inevitable, and infantry are much easier to replace than more expensive unit classes. Very few sides take this to the logical extreme of only popping infantry, because battles of annihilation are relatively rare, and specialists such as siege are necessary for breaching walls without crippling losses, but certainly there have to be plenty on hand for almost all armies, as otherwise an opponent who did favour them would win a direct confrontation.

 

Ethereum ignored all that, charging with only Jess screening against the archers on the wall. Dozens of arrows glanced off her thick skin, a few finding purchase; Lecter snapped his fingers, and they popped out and the little punctures sealed over. Invigorated by the rage bonus, she crashed into the wall and swiped at the archers, knocking some off and forcing the others to fall back behind the pikers. There was a flash of juice, and Charlotte snapped into her giant clown snake form; she slammed into the gate, burning juice to drive cracks into it. She rammed it again, but it held, and the pikers jabbed at her, driving her back.

 

Tom gave a silent order to Loony, who kicked her daemon forward and touched him and Koume, burning juice to imbue them with flight. They flew up to eye level with the ramparts; the piker stack blinked at the bizarre sight.

 

Hi,” said Tom, and he and Koume linked arms to fire quadruple chain Shockmancy spells, Foolamantic visual artefacts making them seem to come from about eight places at once. Energy flowed from one target to the next, knocking over entire stacks; as soon as they fell, more pressed in to replace them, humanoid heavies mixed in with stabbers. Jess swatted the paralysed stacks off the wall into the courtyard behind, and Charlotte rammed the gate again, but without effect, and the reinforcements chased her back. Arrows whistled past, auspicious gusts of wind blowing them into Jess’ thick hide instead.

 

« Boss? » Lisa sent. « There’s a stack of fairies behind the gate, looks like they’re casting to keep it intact. »

 

He frowned and floated forward, over the defenders, Koume following a length behind. When he crossed over the gate, he entered the airspace proper: a blaze of stored Shockmancy crackled out from the tower to engulf him. He blocked it with one hand, pouring in his own juice to neutralise it, then twisted in midair to guide it down his leg and into the gate, sending splinters flying.

 

The courtyard was full of infantry and heavies pressing up the inner stairs to hold the walls. Warlords were ordering the ones on the ground to spread out to avoid area-effect damage; a few archers shot at Tom, all missing, some arcing past to hit Jess instead. Below him, directly behind the gate, was a stack of fairies, concentrating on repairing the damage. They were smaller than Men, and glowed rainbow colours, mostly pink or blue.

 

Hey, listen!” said one, cupping a hand to its pointy glowing ear.

 

Watch out!” said another, pointing up at Tom.

 

Oh, shut up,” Koume said. Tom shot a concussion downward, angled off to one side, and she took the other side. The curses boxed the fairies in and blew them to bits.

 

Lecter healed Jess again. She roared and slashed at the defenders, cleaving through several and sending the survivors reeling back; Charlotte took the opening to ram the gate, infusing herself with juice, and it shattered. She fell forward with it, showering splinters around the courtyard, and their knights charged the opening, bopping from side to side in time to Charlotte’s song. Arthur shouted a word of command, and the fairies and defenders who’d fallen off the wall reconstituted and arose in Ethereum colours, moving to the same beat.

 

Someone had warned Pro Toast about reanimation cascades, because their infantry fell back and Shakepikee’s heavies split into four stacks and charged the breach, dusting uncroaked with every blow and carving a path straight to Arthur. According to Thursday, they had given Pro Toast the initial cohort of heavies, so they had the same types they’d fought back at Ethereum City: wall-stomping giant loafers, towering humanoid odalwas, and beefy quadruped gohts seating grim-faced warlords, with no cloth golems this time. They’d remembered May.

 

There were crunches of steel against muscle as Lady Jane blocked one stack and Lord Spear another. Tom and Koume dropped to engage the third, and Jess bellowed again and waded into the last, with Charlotte and May covering her flanks. With Charlotte’s song and Riley chiming in with heals, Jane managed to hold her line; Tom and Koume were two master-class hot casters; and Jess’ body could take a ludicrous amount of punishment; but the well-led heavies overwhelmed Spear’s stack. The goht tackled Spear, and the warlord ran him through.

 

Saito, who was a pace behind Arthur, broke stack and stepped forward, locking eyes with the Pro Toast warlord. She drew her pen and hit the button Grim had installed that made it unfold into a scythe, then made a figure-eight motion with her free hand, fingers extended, and Spear and six of the fallen knights arose (one had been pancaked by a loafer). She rounded out the stack and co-led it, adding her bonus to Spear’s, then engaged the heavies.

 

Uncroaked have a reputation for being weaker than live units, but this is largely because their most memorable battles are those in which they are animated en masse and therefore receive very little individual attention. Saito was quite useless at mass uncroaking, but talented at reanimating small numbers of units well, and these were knights. With invisible bursts of Luckamancy, their envenomed blades flashed and critted the heavies one by one. Saito danced around one knight, spun, and bisected the Pro Toast warlord from behind with her enchanted scythe, then gestured, and the two halves reconnected and got back to their feet.

 

There was a noise like a bursting balloon and Jess winked out of existence, but she’d already done critical damage. The Shakepikee group was finished, and the surviving Pro Toast and fairy units were abandoning the walls for a last stand at the garrison. Tom raised his hand and sent a silent order; Jane and Saito finished their engagements, then fell back to join him and the rest of the Ethereum column at the wreckage of the gate.

 

Lisa,” he said softly, and her image appeared in greyscale before him. “Report.”

 

It looks like about two thirds of the defenders are croaked or incapped,” she said. “No heavies or knights left, just infantry and a few low-level fairies. They’re down to two warlords, a four and a two. The four is setting up stacks at the main entrance; the two is barricading a side door, he’ll probably switch to the front once that’s done. Misty says it’s time for NV or Flacutono to tag in.”

 

How much juice does everyone have left?” he asked.

 

Most of them made so-so gestures. The Healomancers were almost empty, as were he and Koume. Jess, who was still in the hex behind, put all her juice into her projection. Arthur, NV, May, Grim, and James were still high.

 

Very well. May?”

 

She grinned. “Arthur, take the uncroaked. Grim, you and me are with the golems. We’ll attack the front. The knights and warlords too, and Lecter. Charlotte, go with James, the ferals, and NV. Break open the side gate, then withdraw; NV will take out their warlords. He’ll capture the garrison when the remainder autoattack.”

 

Ooh,” said Riley, “that reminds me, one of those gohts is still alive, just incapacitated with delayed croaking. Can I stabilise it?”

 

Don’t normal Healomancers save their juice for their own side, not the enemy?” Koume asked.

 

Oh, but, but I’ve got this awesome idea that I think might bump me up to master, and Pete can turn it after I’m done. We always need more mounts, right? And I barely have any juice left, I wouldn’t be much use to our guys anyway.”

 

Turning Riley’s former projects doesn’t usually take much time or juice,” Pete offered. “Like, at all.”

 

May raised a finger and her eyes unfocused for a moment while she called Misty for battle odds. “Go on, then,” she said indulgently.

 

Thanks, Mom!” Riley said joyfully, kicking her eight-legged mounted forward for a hug, before turning back to the gate.

 

Jane, whose knights would croak for want of healing if things went badly, frowned. Arthur and Saito, who would get to uncroak them, did not. Saito put a hand on Arthur’s arm, a silent request to come with him to lead a reserve stack.

 

More than any other two members of the side, they had a shared understanding of how lucky they both were to be there. There were plenty of sides who would prefer to send their Croakamancers away rather than field uncroaked; normally the only sides that went so far as to hire one were those mere turns from being conquered. Even within the Magic Kingdom, there were plenty who refused to even talk to them. Every day was a struggle for survival. Here, they were key strategic units, outfitted with custom gear from a master Dollamancer. Some of the others were certainly squeamish about the uncroaked, and had mocked them for being feeble until Akira had confessed that she’d been borrowing their Luckamancy in order to preserve the casters, but it was a friendly rivalry rather than contempt now that they had fought side by side. The bottom line was that they had a purpose. It showed in their Signamancies, which were lean and tough rather than thin and haggard like most Croakamancers’.

 

Arthur nodded, and Saito stacked up with Spear and six uncroaked stabbers. Arthur took the uncroaked Pro Toast warlord and Spear’s knights.

 

Another twenty-eight uncroaked followed them, split into six reserve stacks of varying size to fill in for losses if they got a moment to restack, and they walked toward the city garrison. It was shaped like the top of a question mark, with the tower at the dot, with wide double gates at the top and a smaller entry by the tower. NV’s group was headed for the dot, May to the top with the rest of Ethereum’s group following. The double gates were firmly shut.

 

Why would anyone do a silly thing like that?” May mused, running a hand over the wood panelling. “Do they think we’re going to give up because of a door?” She shrugged and motioned to her four golems, and they formed pairs and made to ram the gates.

 

They fell open immediately, having been shut but not barred; the first two golems staggered forward, into the waiting lines of pikers, who jabbed in unison and skewered both golems, tearing them open and spilling stuffing over the floor but somehow not finishing them off. May skipped away from a thrust that deflected off her robe.

 

Back!” Jane shouted. “They’re defenders! Let them break their line and come to you!”

 

Three fairies darted forward, hands clasped. “Laugh to scorn the power of war –”

 

Arthur and his knights sprinted forward to engage and disrupt the spell. The pikers tensed to meet them; they were no match for knights, but they bought a moment.

 

“– for none of Erf popped shall harm Arthur!”

 

One reached up and put a hand to his shoulder. There was a thunderous noise, a flash, and a shower of confetti, just before his sword flashed through the fairy. The other two ducked back behind the next row of pikers, as Arthur disengaged.

 

What did you do?!”

 

Get back, idiot,” May hissed at him. They pulled back a few paces, away from the bottleneck of the garrison opening.

 

One fairy, with green hair and eyes, grinned, showing sharp little teeth. “It’s a parting gift, a little spell called temptation. You’ll figure out the punchline soon enough.”

 

You should have hired a Carnymancer,” said the other. “A Foolamancer’s good, but Numbers just don’t tell a story.”

 

The Pro Toast senior warlord, several rows behind the gate, spoke up. “Their Foolamancer’s here? Where?”

 

Right behind you, gentleman,” NV said, sliding his shiv between the man’s ribs, before ducking back under his veil.

 

The next few actions happened very quickly. The last few stacks of fairies and Pro Toast infantry gave a battle cry and charged Ethereum’s lines. Jane’s knights got simultaneous crits on the last fairies, probably gifted to them by Akira. The cloth golems and uncroaked engaged the pikers, but a moment later, the last stack left the garrison, and manacles automagically wrapped themselves around the lot of them. Ethereum’s emblem appeared on flags across the city. A cheer went up. Tom folded his arms behind his back and smiled.

 

Arthur sheathed his sword and turned to May. “Did you recognise that spell?” he asked, keeping his voice under the babble of post-victory reminiscence. He ran his hands over his body, feeling for anything out of place.

 

It was Carnymancy,” she said, sheathing her sword. “I’m not one, but it sounded more –”

 

Riley tore past them, racing Charlotte for the tower. “Dibs on the top bunk!”

 

“– like a blessing than a curse.” She shrugged. “Carnymancy is flexible, but not powerful, and those weren’t full casters. Don’t worry about it.”

 

 

 

AN

 

Ugh. Not inspired at all this time. Still, real artists ship.

 

One nice thing about the discipline model of magic is the way that it enforces different combat styles. In Harry Potter, everyone basically fights the same, maybe with bad guys using slightly more destructive magic, or in Pokémon, there’s not really much difference between flamethrower and thunderbolt, but here, not only does everyone have a unique spellbook, they actually play differently.

 

Under my mechanics and typical circumstances, the stabber:knight exchange rate is slightly under 3:1. (I only recently wrote an analytic simulator; I’d thought knights would do a little better, more like 3.5:1. I should buff them.) Knights have their uses, but pop at only one sixth the rate, so aren’t normally mass-produced. I once considered writing a short story, akin to Arthur Clarke’s Superiority, in which two sides go to war, one using knights, and the other basic infantry and winning by weight of numbers.

 

Reanimation cascades: a Croakamancer’s cycle of using corpses to create uncroaked and using uncroaked to create corpses, particularly when this accelerates. With the caster’s level bonus plus normal leadership, uncroaked can be stronger than live infantry, leading to exponential growth as long as their juice holds out; this is typically a battle or even war ender if it gets going. Croakamancers are therefore priority targets even among casters.

Part 15 of 20 in Ethereum

Comments

    • falcore51

      Great writing again,  I look forward to it each week.

      • Count_to_10

        So, Arthur is now doomed to be croaked by an un-popped unit?

        Seems like any golem would qualify.  Possibly uncroaked.

        • thatonesungod

          arthur is going to be croaked by a perfect warlord guys

          • lone_war

            Thank you again Twofer. You have a great story here, and while this one wasnt as awesome as some of the others, it was still extremely good

            I especially like the synergies you are showing with the casters, and the effects of those casters who are NOT even in the fight

            And NO, Arthur is not going to be croaked by a Perfect Warlord, Jess is going to kill him, probably accidentally via a Creation. That is the bad thing about getting a prophecy placed on a person. Once in place, Fate starts moving to try and fulfill it. So congratulations, Arthur is now targeted by Fate. And Fate is one patient female dog...

            Oh, and Twofer, I also want to thank you for mentioning Worm in this series, as it allowed me to read that incredible Web Serial. Absolutely Outstanding series, THANK YOU. 

            • BrokenSky

              Croakamancers being a priority target: only if you go infantry heavy. Hard counters are for balance after all :P

              But yeah great story so far :)

              • Twofer

                Thanks for the encouragement, everybody! :)

                Oh, there are plenty of ways to circumvent that prophecy. Golems, projections, uncroaked, traps, poison, a luck drain making him fumble and fall off a mount, extra-universals, there's no protection against being turned or going neutral or disbanding … it's deliberately weak. If Fate is the narrator behind Erfworld, it's supposed to make Him bounce up and down on the balls of His feet in excitement at all the clever ways He can subvert it.

                @War: Thanks. It was frustrating at the beginning, having them working together so badly (those fights against Thursday, ugh), but I think it was worth it for the contrast with now when everyone's comboing with at least one or two others.

                @Sky: True. I'd think Croakamancers would tend to either dominate or be useless with precious little middle ground.

                • Requiem_Jeer

                  I wonder what kind of specials Khonsu had innately? Siege probably. Seems appropriate for an Endbringer. She probably just sought something with high numbers and siege, relying on Loony to give good specials. It is a combo they figured out earlier...

                  • hajo4

                    It took me a while to notice that new ethereum-storys were up - yay !
                    I expected Submission, as well as blog/all to show new stuff on top,
                    but it looks like it doesn't work that way...

                    Nice callback to Digdoug !

                    Typos/nitpicks:
                    * blowing alara: alarm, or is that some kind of trumpet ?
                    * missing closing quotes: just before and after "we are ethereum".

                    Curious how that temptation-spell will work out.

                     

                    • Twofer

                      @Requiem:

                      To be a faithful Endbringer, the first thing would be 10^40 or so hits. If you can tank Phir Se's limit breaker, you can take an awful lot of arrows. Khonsu would also get flight, multiple ranged instacroaks, and however Erfworld would implement forcefields and teleporting. Endbringers really don't belong in this setting at all, they're like if 10^20 Daleks decided to have an opinion on the Punic Wars.

                      Jess didn't actually have siege today; her role was to screen and suppress the defenders while Charlotte took out the gate. As a poor man's Dirtamancer, Charlotte can unmake fortifications. This is about equivalent to (Loony gives Jess siege, Loony doesn't give Jess rage, Charlotte gives Jess a stat buff, Charlotte doesn't fight personally, Jess takes out the gate too) tactically; it's just that, seeing Riley extend to cold casting, Charlotte wanted to push herself at hot magic.

                      @Hajo:

                      Yeah, no idea what's going on with Subs.

                      Alarum: an old-fashioned term for alarm which is pretty much exclusively used for when militaries do it with trumpets. Alara would be the Latin-style plural, but actually looking it up, that's a false etymology, and it should be alarums.

                      One is supposed to drop close quotes when one person speaks for two or more paragraphs like that, like

                      "First of all.
                      "Second of all. Thank you."

                      I think the idea is that you include the open quotes to remind people that it's spoken rather than narrated, but not the close quotes because that would suggest a conversation omitting dialogue tags.

                      • TomaO2

                        Oh, this is still going on? Why have a bunch of your updates not been on the submission page? Last one was "Day 9" and all of them got removed except the "Day 8 Meanwhile" one. All the older ones are also gone, along with pretty much any submissions that were before the update, but that's  a different issue. 

                        • Requiem_Jeer

                          It didn't need to be faithful, it just needed to be appropriate. Game balance-wise, city-killing titans having the siege special seemed appropriate. So did Khonsu have ANY specials besides amazing hits and defense?

                          • Twofer

                            @Toma:

                            No idea. Maintaining the site is the job of the site maintainer, not some random fanfic author. I didn't even realise it wasn't showing up. That tab might only show submissions from within a timeframe, a month or two? Either way, stick to the fanfic forum. I've finally put a thread up there that I'll update as appropriate.

                            @Requiem:

                            It had no specials, but one property, Extreme Bigness, which allowed it to engage defenders atop a level four wall.

                            I'd give siege to most kaiju, but Khonsu's two shticks were an instakill attack and being aggravatingly hard to put down, not collateral damage. I have siege purely as a bonus to attacks against infrastructure and he didn't do much of that at all, so I'll rule no. I'd've given him specials for the circles, forcefields, and teleports, but the first and third feel too unErfly/OP. Forcefields might work; Loony gave straight damage reduction, so something like "If an attack would cause this unit's hits to drop from above some multiple of four to below it, it instead only reduces it to that multiple" (e.g. if on 21 and takes a 6-damage hit, is only reduced to 20).

                             

                            • Requiem_Jeer

                              Sounds about right. If I wanted to emulate Khonsu's particular flavor of hard-to-kill, I'd actually prefer a healomancy reserve that had full heals only, maybe two a turn.

                              • DunkelMentat

                                Glad to get another update! I'm loving seeing them develop as a fighting force, you're really selling it just right. As for temptation: I'm guessing that Erf popped units won't be able to harm Arthur and that will make him reckless, and at some point he'll give into temptation and get himself killed doing something stupid. His last words will be: "Hey y'all, hold my beer and watch this."

                                • Gildomar

                                   Nice Star Wars and Zelda references.

                                  • amnimatchen

                                    Just read part 9, and I will say it simply - You ruined my day. THis is a most disgusting pice, I actually find it offending!

                                    You know? I liked the story so far, was one of my favorite, but now I do not want any connection with it.  I will definetly not read any more of it, including current part, because you are clearly a prevet. 

                                    I think it shoulde be banned, and will say so to the admins.

                                    • thatonesungod

                                      ...........................

                                       

                                      @amni, WHAT THE **** IS WRONG WITH YOU

                                      • Bandaid

                                        I think I understand where amnimatchen is coming from. Riley is nightmare material and while I read about her I thought: "What kind of author comes up with these ideas? I stopped worrying when I found out about Worm and the Slaughterhouse Nine. Now I worry what kind of person Wildbow is.

                                        @amnimatchen Do not google Worm and especially do not read it. I can guarantee that you would regret it.

                                        • Count_to_10

                                          This actually got me to look up "Worm".  I just read up to the Leviathan attack, which really disappointed me.  I spent the whole time wonder where the military was, seeing as how a pack of attack helicopters could easily take it out without casualties.

                                          Oh, well.  Very few authors have any kind of clue how lethal hydrodynamic anti-tank weaponry is.

                                          • thatonesungod

                                            @count, this displays a critical misunderstanding of the endbringers, all of them are first off, on easy mode, second off the whole body aside from the core is fake, 3rd off, the core has a density of a dwarf star, 1 SHARD IN THE WHOLE THING, was proven to be possible to affect endbringers, flechette, they tried the army, the army all died, that's the prehistory

                                            • Count_to_10

                                              tosg, speculation about the durability of materials that should instantly explode without supporting pressures that don't on Earth aside, none of the "capes" in Worm demonstrate anything approaching the lethality of basic military weapons.  Not even Scion.  Sending in "supers" that are specked for non-lethality into that fight is like sending ten-year-olds armed with whifflebats into a gunfight.  Not having the army at the very least provide helicopters to keep them out of the things reach while they rip it's outer shell off (let alone not providing the gunships that would do the job better) stands out as non-nonsensical.  Beyond the author's apparent ignorance of weapon lethality (which is all too common), it's like he forgot the military exists at all.

                                               

                                              • thatonesungod

                                                ........are, you, kidding, me?!!!

                                                • zilfallon

                                                  @amnimatchen yes because being able to imagine something sick totally means that the guy is also a psycho. congratulations, you've just made a breakthrough in psychology and brought us forward 50 years ahead in understanding human brain.

                                                   

                                                  ...also, it's not like twofer is the first and/or only guy in the world to write a flesh golem.

                                                   

                                                  In addition, it is totally fine if you feel bad reading it and don't want to read it anymore, but you're basically saying "this story offends ME so NO ONE ELSE should read it". If you can't see any problem with this statement, well, I won't bother replying.

                                                  • Bandaid

                                                    I would like to clarify my earlier comment. Like I wrote I can understand if someone finds the contents of this story disturbing. As zilfallon pointed out however, that does not mean that the story is bad or needs to be taken down and anyone who dislikes it is free to stop reading it. Also I do not believe just because someone comes up with some disturbing ideas for his story that he is a "pervert" as animatchen claimed. I should have placed a smiley behind my comments about Twofer and Wildbow. I for one will continue to enjoy reading Ethereum and look forward too the next part.