(Previous Chapter: http://www.erfworld.com/blog/view/50260/money-makes-the-world-go-round-part-1)


Drachma watched the Portal Park throughout the day, his presence drawing more than a few eyes to him as he sat on what could only be called a gilded throne, inlaid with jewels, and with scenes of great knights fighting dwagons on it. He ignored any looks though, after all, he had an investment to observe, and while he was no Lookamancer, he could at least sense the sides involved, feeling their treasuries and worth of their units shift as actions were taken.


Units were spent, or at least, their moves were, reducing each sides overall worth, but that was to be expected of battle. His first shock was when Jetstone lost a unit of some value, probably their chief warlord, only for Gobwin Knob to suddenly shoot up by the same value a moment later. Decryption, the power to pop again, or so he’d heard. Letting the sense of it flit across his mind, the Moneymancer found himself somewhat disturbed by it, as the value seemed to go up a moment later. Decrypted did not need upkeep after all.


Then things got weird. He’d been sensing sides in the Coalition, but some were less tied to it than others, meaning he had to focus on them to get a sense of their worth. When Gobwin Knob’s forces spent some move though, he sensed a worth that dwarfed theirs entering the game, but in an offhand way, like they were in the background, somehow funding the entire fight through proxy. That made him feel almost as disturbed as the Decryption business. Someone was spending shmuckers without him being able to sense who it was. That should not have been possible.


“Charlie,” he said at last. Hide it all he wanted, he was the only one with a treasury that big. He didn’t like others knowing that, one of the reasons he never hired Moneymancers, and told them to keep out of his business, but Drachma had done a bit of mercenary work in his youth, before he became a Master. Numloch had been at war with a side that Charlie had aligned with, and in doing so, had exposed his worth to him, nearly causing the Moneymancer to disband himself in shock.


Of course, Charlie was Charlie, and that had led to some very heated debates between himself and the battlespace solutions provider. Debates that, eventually, forced him into the Magic Kingdom, after losing his arm. Touching the artificial construct, a bit of Dollamancy, on his side, Drachma let his face go as white as his hair for a moment, before deciding to wait. He refused to be scared or angry, those were emotions for people who couldn’t afford to deal with their problems. Despite this, a low growl escaped his throat.


Then his second shock of the day happened. Gobwin Knob’s worth plummeted, as their turn ended. That too was not how it normally happened, a turn’s end did drop some shmuckers down the hole that was time, because units who hadn’t used up their move would lose it, and thus, become less valuable, but this? No, Gobwin Knob had spent far too few of its resources, and hadn’t yet taken the City of Spacerock. Better, the Side he could barely sense dropped in value by a lot as well.


“Hmm, interesting indeed,” he said to himself, placing his hands in front of him, and then leaning on them. This show was actually becoming worth the cost of the gem he’d given Marie. Then his third shock of the day happened. He felt the shift of values units were altered, and costs were paid to promote or harvest. One of those values felt funny, and he knew it was this Parson, this warlord who could pass thru Portals.


“Curiouser and curiouser,” he muttered, watching as Gobwin Knob’s Dirtamancer wandered into the park, a look on his face like he’d been asked to croak his favorite support unit. He passed into their Portal, and soon enough came back out, an even worse expression on his face. His Erfmover shovel, a magic item worth a few hundred shmuckers, touched the ground, and Drachma could feel the cost of juice as he acted upon it.


“This is our cue,” said a voice, and Drachma turned slightly to find Marie beside him, a worried looking Date-a-mancer at her side.


“I suppose it is,” was all he said as he rose, willing away his seat and recouping the lost shmuckers into his purse, before following after them. The Dirtamancer, with the three bearing down on him, looked solemn and glum, but did not stop his casting as they marched up beside him, Janis giving him a hug, while still walking with him.


“Sizemore, it’s so good to see you again. This is the Predictamancer I mentioned. My friend, Marie Lavraie” said the Hippie, as she released him and gestured towards Marie. The Predictamancer in question nodded and smiled at the small Caster before her, and then turned towards Drachma, waving a hand at him.


“A pleasure to finally meet you, Sizemore Rockwell. This is my friend, Drachma. He’s donated quite a lot to this turn’s events,” she said, and with a gesture, she pulled the blue gem out of her sleeve, an action that brought the other two up short, as they stared at something even their senses said was worth quite a lot. When they recovered, Sizemore began to walk again.


“Yes, well, I would love to talk, Janis, but I have an urgent errand to run,” as he spoke, he took a few more delicate steps, continuing to cast into the ground beneath him through his item.


“Hmm, a task that requires casting in the Kingdom?” asked Drachma, and once again, Sizemore started, as he stared at the Moneymancer. He did not stop his spell, of course, and took another step forward.


“It’s...complicated. Please, all of you, leave. This is...this will not be a good place to be soon,” he begged, and Janis looked at him with pity in her eyes. It was obvious he did not want to do what he was doing, but someone had given an order, and his Duty made him obey.


“Even so, we’ll walk with you, Sizemore, on your urgent errand,” insisted Janis, and so the four of them walked. Marie proclaiming things about how Fate was twisted, and this turn would see the turning of many things than just time. Drachma, having heard many speeches in that vein before, merely listened with half an ear, bringing up the rear of their formation and thinking on how he’d come to be here.


Any other turn, any other day, he’d be back in the Hall, helping with training. As a Master of Moneymancy, he didn’t really have to work to earn his shmuckers, his juice was more than enough. Heck, he couldn’t remember how many turns it had been since he’d done real work, or felt Duty’s call. And yet, now here he was, about to cleave himself to the side of Gobwin Knob. He’d already invested a lot in that gem Marie held in her hands, waiting to give it to the one Fate willed it for.


So distracted by his own thoughts was Drachma, that he only barely registered when they stopped in front of another Portal. He was shocked from his reverie when the value of Portal Park shot up, as several of the Great Minds entered, their stack moving with a purpose. Then, just before his mind could really process that, the value shot up again, in a way that was twisted, as Parson came crashing through his Side’s Portal, falling into the tunnel Sizemore had been digging, and vanishing from sight if not sense.


“Jojo!” shouted Janis as a Carnymancer came from nowhere to dive down into the tunnel after him. Marie suddenly had a very, very concerned look on her face.


“Sizemore, open the tunnel to us. He’ll need us,” she said, and Sizemore seemed about to argue for a moment, and Janis would have stood aside, her concern for lives keeping her tongue, but Drachma didn’t wait. He knew Jojo as he knew most of the Carnies. They were always trying to sell things to the Adept and Novice Moneymaners, after all. They were also very bad news, as they were one of the few units that could cast without being seen to.


With all that in mind, Drachma waved his hand, spending more of his purse and juice on an item from his memory. This was a Lagann, a drill he remembered seeing used to make great holes in things. With it in hand, he drove the thing into the dirt, and felt the ground open up beneath his feet. Instantly, there was an opening into a tunnel below, and jumping onto the Lagann, he was carried down into it, arriving so he was standing just between Parson and Jojo.


“Jeftichew,” he said in a rather displeased voice, and the Carny seemed taken aback, both by his sudden action, which had probably just interrupted a Pitch(A basic Carnymancy spell that could alter a unit’s perception of what you said), and because he dropped something in the shaking of the drill’s descent. That thing was a scroll, one that smelled of Carnymancy even from here, and looked to be valuable. In fact, its worth was on par with the jewel he’d given Marie early.


“Ah, Drachma, you’ve invested in this Fate?” he said when his words came back to him. Meanwhile, behind him, a wall slid away, and the three from above came running down to stand with Parson.


“I have made a small expenditure of funds to the cause, yes,” he said simply, and Jojo just sneered at him, while looking at the four behind him. This was obviously supposed to have gone quite a bit differently, but with the Pitch interrupted, and more importantly, some distance between him and the mark, Jojo decided it was time to end the game for now, and took off back down the way, clutching that scroll of his tightly in his fist.


“Whahuh?” said Parson, as Drachma turned towards the group.


“There isn’t time to explain, Parson! Fate moves quickly now. Come,” said Marie, and she began to lead him towards the other end of the Tunnel, sparing a gaze to Drachma, who hrumphed again, and then walked towards closer exit. He had no interest to spend more of his Purse today, even if it had not been empty. He would actually have to reduce a few jewels in his room to make upkeep tomorrow, and that vexed him, so for now, he would allow events to play out without him.


“Remember you promise, Marie!” he shouted after her, but didn’t turn around to see what expression she wore in response. Instead he walked back out into the sunlight, a few Casters gathered around giving him odd looks as he stalked off, ready to hear the report of this turn’s doings from the Predictamancer, once it was all said and done.


(Next Chapter: http://www.erfworld.com/blog/view/50336/money-makes-the-world-go-round-part-3)


    • Knavigator

      While I like the idea of a Moneymancer being able to conjure items that they've seen before, it seems a bit OP. Especially for a sided caster who has a Treasury at their disposal

      However, that's mostly because the drill seems like a magic item, since it emulates dirtamancy. If it only applied to mundane items, then I could see it existing. Certainly got me interested in the story.