I personally hauled Stanley off into the dungeon and threw him into a cell. I left him in chains for now as I had no units to guard him and I wanted to be on the safe side. The dungeon had been owned by Stanley after all and while I doubted that he had ever dreamt of being imprisoned in it, he might know something about an escape method I was unaware of, so I chained him to the wall as an additional measure. After that, I returned to the courtyard and addressed everyone again.

 

”Now for the biggest concern most of you probably have : We know what you did, we know why you did it, we know how you did it, we know you like to hear yourself talk, but right now we would like to know what will happen now, specifically, to us? As you can see, several Turnamancers are currently very busy turning the non-speaking units to my side and have already turned most of the dwagons. Thanks to the generous help of the Thinkamancers, that process shall be completed this day. I could easily use them to turn each of you to my side.”  I paused, observing the crowd. A lot of people had knowing looks on their faces. “But I won’t do that.” That caused some surprised reactions.

 

“I just struggled to overcome some mind control effects myself and I resented every moment I was affected by them. So I would rather avoid putting someone else through that experience. That being said, most of you have few if any options anyway. I am afraid the hobgobwins and gobwins will not be a part of my side.” I directly addressed the chiefs. “I have no interest in having natural allies which have broken allegiance before. I have even less interest in natural allies who have broken allegiance so they could work for Stanley and might break allegiance again at the drop of a hat. Now the most expedient solution for this situation would be for me to execute each of you for the XP.” The hobgobwins and gobwins looked understandably unhappy at this point.

 

“But I will not do that either. The decision to betray King Saline I.V. was made by your chief; it would be unfair to punish all of you for that seeing as you had little say in the matter, especially those of you who popped after the fact. However, that doesn’t change the fact that you are useless to me as allies. I will keep you prisoner and pay your upkeep for the time being. As soon as this mess we are in right now has been resolved one way or another I will see if I can find a side somewhere which is interested in allying with you. Failing that, I will release you into the world while providing you with some gems and provisions so that you have a chance of finding some territory where you can forage and mine for your upkeep. The gems and rations in question will be provided by dwagon airdrop while you keep marching out of my territory to ensure you do not use those resources against me. Now I really do not need any more distractions than absolutely necessary right now so I expect you guys to gratefully accept those generous terms and stay put for the time being. Attempting escape and trying to take over the city would be pointless anyway. Even in the extreme unlikely event that you should succeed, the Royal Crown Coalition will simply take the city from you next turn, after they have croaked all of you of course. That being said, if you do cause trouble somehow, I will feed you to my dwagons. Did I make myself clear?”

 

“Yes.” Both chiefs replied with clearly conflicted emotions. I ordered all natural allies out of the courtyard into city proper while keeping the rank and file separated from the chiefs. Three stacks of dwagons watching them should serve as an adequate reminder for what would happen if they did get any ideas. I could not send them to the dungeon because I did not have any units which could guard them there yet as my dwagons were incapable of entering the dungeon zone. As the hobgobwins and gobwins shuffled off, I addressed the remaining prisoners.

 

“With the exception of the casters, you people really have few options. Without a commander you have no real chance of making a life as mercenaries and I doubt one of the casters here will decide to take a go at it. The obvious choice would be to join my side. All of you are valuable units, so I will gladly welcome anyone among you who wants to turn. If you decide against that I will pay your upkeep for the time being. Perhaps I can find another ruler or barbarian warlord who would be willing to integrate you into his or hers forces though to be honest I judge that eventuality unlikely. All that is assuming we survive the next couple of turns of course.“

 

I took a deep breath as I prepared myself for the next part. While I had told pikers, stabbers and archers that they were valuable units they were not very vital for my strategy. The archers would be nice to have against potential archon attacks but the stabbers and pikers were a really low priority in terms of military strength. Those people had had few reasons to enjoy their live under Stanley however so I saw no reason to crush their egos any further. The casters were an entirely different matter altogether. While I had multiple plans and contingencies prepared which allowed for the fact that none of them might be available, I would vastly prefer having all of them on my new side.  Maggie would probably the easiest as the Thinkamancers would want an inside agent to monitor me closely so I expected Isaac to encourage Maggie to turn to my side. I would give him the opportunity to do so without me noticing later. What a shame that I already knew about the Thinkamancers agenda and Maggie’s role as the Thinkamancer’s agent. Sizemore was another matter. My best bet to get him to turn was to leave it to Janis to convince him. As a Dirtamancer his services would be invaluable, also I really liked him and would hate to lose him to the Magic Kingdom, a real option as Dirtamancers could make a fortune while hiring out to sides. As a low level Lookamancer Misty’s would have it much harder in the MK, her damaged Signamancy might be an additional problem as it might make rulers reluctant to hire her. Joining up with me would really be her best move. Jack being a master class Foolamancer would probably do okay on his own. He had no special reason to join me except perhaps a lingering gratitude for safely getting him out of the abusive permanent linkup Stanley had forced upon his casters which might be a point in my favor for both Maggie and Misty also. Perhaps I could lure him in using Jillian as bait as he was in love with her. That left Wanda, the walking headache, both mine and hers.  Here the urge to have the Turnamancers turn her and pile up loyalty spell after loyalty spell while they were at it was really tempting. I reigned in that urge because, among other considerations, I was not confident that it would work, at least in the long run. It would be far better to convince Wanda to work with me. Jillian would be useful in Wanda’s case as well as a lure because Wanda also was in love with Jillian. Jillian seemed to attract half the population of Erfworld now that I thought about it. Anyway it was time to convince the casters.

 

“Unlike the other people, you casters have a way out of the Battle for Gobwin Knob. I am willing to release you into the Magic Kingdom if you desire that.” With the exception of Wanda all casters had a surprised look on their faces. Wanda just kept glaring at me.

 

“You will have to agree to a rather tight nondisclosure contract which will include clauses that you cannot help opponents of my side in any way but after that you are free to go if you want. I would vastly prefer it however if you were willing to join my side. I could really use each of you and it would make carrying out my plans much easier.” Wanda’s expression slightly changed at that. I guessed that she was searching for the easiest way to achieve her fate. I would have to use that but I didn’t want to do that in public. I would invite Wanda to a private chat later; she was of course not in a position to decline at the moment. For now I addressed the whole courtyard again.

 

“Before anyone decides if he or she wants to sign up I should probably tell you a bit about those plans of mine. While this is a new side and we are technically at peace with the Royal Crown Coalition I am afraid that state of affairs will most likely not hold. Stanley’s proclamation of superiority over royalty by means of his Arkenhammer has infuriated the royal rulers of the Royal Crown Coalition and we are about to reap what he sowed. If I was royal myself the situation might be resolved peacefully as the other royals would accept my right to rule and find it natural that I displaced Stanley as ruler. As it stands they will want to replace me with another ruler more to their liking. One of those royal sides will most likely want to spin off a new side with this city as capitol. Since Jetstone has committed the most forces to the Royal Crown Coalition and Prince Ansom as Chief Warlord is leading the combined army it will be most likely him. For all of you, with the notable exception of the casters, that means you will be most likely executed if this city falls as Ansom probably sees little value in turning you. Now I have no intention of letting this city fall. I will attempt to achieve a diplomatic solution but if that fails I have multiple plans to keep the Royal Crown Coalition at bay. Which one of those I am able to carry out depends on how many of you are willing to join me. Now I have talked quite a lot and hopefully given you much to think about so I will give you some time to make your choices. I have asked the Hippiemancers to provide assistance which they kindly agreed to do, so if anyone wants something to drink or needs to use the latrine ask one of them for help. Feel free to talk with each other. Wanda, please accompany me. We need to have a private chat.”

  

“And what will happen if I don’t?” Wanda responded with a defiant look on her face. Sigh…

 

“Then that private chat will happen in public, here and now. It might involve some topics you would want to keep private, like Jillian for example,” I put special emphasis on the name to remind Jack that I had her as prisoner. ”but I will not force you to come along if you do not want to. So what will it be?”

 

With visible reluctance Wanda got up and followed me. I ordered a dwagon to fly near to us just in case Wanda would try something. As a prisoner she was unable to cast, not that she had any juice left to do so anyway, and her chances in combat against me were almost zero with my bonuses and higher combat stats and her malus for being prisoner but she might be desperate. Also since she was convinced Fate was on her side she would be willing to risk herself against all odds, no matter how bad, if she believed it was necessary for her to fulfill her fate.

 

As soon as we reached one of those ugly little houses my city was full of at the moment (I made a mental note to do something about that as soon as possible.) and had gone inside I addressed Wanda.

 

“Wanda, most people are still shocked right now or are simply angry but you seem to be the only one who hates me with a passion. I wonder why that is.”

 

“You betrayed Lord Stanley and ask me why I hate you? Are you serious?  Wanda replied with a scowl on her face.

 

I sighed. “Wanda, if there is one unit in this whole city which should not accuse me of betraying Stanley it would be you. You tried to betray Stanley long before I did. The only difference between us is that I was successful.”

 

“What? How dare you? I”.. I interrupted her with a raised hand.

 

“Wanda, just quit it. I know all about the hidden Kingdom of Faq and more importantly, its demise. After all the time it managed to stay hidden veiled by Jack one turn Stanley just swoops in out of nowhere and takes the capital in one stroke. I wonder how he found out about Faq’s existence and especially how he got the coordinates of the capitol? The most likely explanation would be that someone told him would you not agree? Now he brought back two casters with him so those two would naturally be the prime suspects but let us drop the act. After all we both know it was you.”

 

As Wanda opened her mouth to presumable deny my accusations again I raised my hand further.
”I am not finished. Now I know you did not want to betray the Kingdom of Faq. Stanley took off with 15 dwagons when he flew to Faq. With that amount of dwagons he would have lost the battle for the capitol. So here is what happened: You gave Stanley the coordinates of Faq, presumably on the condition that he would capture you once he took the city, while you seriously understated the amount of resistance which he should expect in the hopes of getting him croaked. Your plan worked brilliantly up to the point where Stanley arrived with 36 dwagons at Faq and proceeded to take the city. I presume you turned to his side at that point to save your hide and pretended that Stanley winning the battle of Faq was your plan all along. Tell me, how I am doing so far?”

 

Wanda had a real shocked expression on her face. ”How.., how do you know all this?”

 

“I was in one shared Thinkspace with Maggie, Misty and Jack as you might recall. As I asked the linked casters how Stanley acquired their services I learned of Jack’s and your origin. I then accessed Jacks memories of his former side.  Maggie also has an excellent memory and, as Thinkamancer, an excellent connection to units from her side so from her I know with how many dwagons Stanley took off. Jack could provide me with a quite accurate account of Faq’s forces in their capitol. That Stanley gathered more dwagons on his way to Faq is evident from both the ever rising upkeep of Gobwin Knob on that turn which Maggie recalls and the fact that he managed to come back alive at all.” Also I knew all of that before I entered the link because I read it in a story. I did not tell her that of course. Figuring out how I could pretend to have gotten all that and other relevant information from Erfworld sources after my summoning was turning out to be quite the chore. Still, I could appear to be much smarter and more cunning than I actually was in that way so it was quite worth it. Also it was absolutely critical that no one, especially not Charlie, learned that this was a retcon. He would make me his highest priority from the moment he would find it out, an occurrence I could gladly live without with. Too bad there was no way for me to pretend to have gained knowledge about Wanda’s complete past. It would have been most helpful in dealing with her. Well what I could use should be enough.

 

“So now that we have established that you do not like Stanley and tried to get him croaked I would like to get back to my original question. Why do you hate me?”

 

“Don’t you already know? You seem to know everything else already.”

 

“You are really not earning points with me right now Wanda. Given the fact that I have considerable influence on your future right now you might want to reconsider that stance. But fine .To forestall questions on how I learned what I am about to tell you and how I can be so sure it is the truth you should know that I talked with a lot of casters about a lot of topics. Of special interest was the talk I had with a Predictamancer called Marie Lavraie, formerly of the Kingdom of Faq. I was introduced to her by Janis Atlantis after I asked the latter questions about Fate and how it works. Marie was quite happy to answer my questions seeing as she was involved in my summoning and has an agenda for me. Well she and half or Erfworld apparently. Anyway, she told me a great deal about Fate and its works.  After I asked her if there were any predictions I should know about she revealed to me that you are fated to attune to an Arkentool. That is the reason you tried to trick Stanley and it is also the reason why you hate me. You think I have interfered with Fate’s plans for you when I displaced Stanley whom you manipulated into questing for the remaining Arkentools in the hope of finally attuning to one. Isn’t that right, Wanda?”

 

Yes!” Wanda snapped.

 

“Well I have good news for you. I have no intention of getting in the way of your future attunement. Actually, getting you your Arkentool is among my top priorities. I will pinky swear that if you want.”

 

“…What?”

 

“You will attune to an Arkentool no matter what happens. Fate will see to it. I got a nice insight into Fate’s powers when I learned that it arranged 21 dwagons for Stanley to tame on his way to Faq. Seeing to it that Fate gets what it wants seems to be the wisest course.” For now, I thought in the deepest corners of my mind.

 

Whatever Wanda thought of me, she had obviously not expected that I would be willing to help her. “What about Lord Stanley’s fate? What do you intend to do about that?” she asked in a much less aggressive tone of voice.

 

“Well he obviously has a fate since he is attuned to the Arkenhammer. But up until and unless a Predictamancer tells me what his fate actually is, I intend to keep him where he cannot do harm to me, himself or anybody else. Are you satisfied with that answer?”

 

“For now. I presume you want me to turn to your side now?”  

 

“That would be most convenient. Before you make that decision however, you should know your options. I meant it when I said that I would not force anybody to turn to my side. I will release you into the Magic Kingdom if you want to. However, since you will get an Arkentool and those are damn powerful I will have to make absolutely sure that that decision will not bite me in the ass at a later time. That means that the conditions in the contract you will have to sign will be damn strict. That might cause some complications for you down the road but that would not be my responsibility any more. It might take a while for me to work out that contract so you would have to stay my prisoner for the time being. Also I would have to treat you as potential enemy from that point on so visiting my side to meet certain people, like Jillian for example, would be out of the question. On the other hand I also want to make it clear to you what will happen if you join. You will be closely supervised and do not expect to be trusted for quite a while. You will not have much authority unless you prove to me that you will not abuse it. Also, if I ever catch you working behind my back or get the feeling you try to manipulate me I will make your life a living nightmare. The fact that Fate does want you attuned does not mean it cares if you are happy or absolutely miserable. Don’t tell anybody I did not give you a fair warning. So, do you need some time or did you already make your decision?”

 

“Very well. If you pinky swear that you will get me my Arkentool then I am willing to serve under you.”

 

After I had made the pinky swear, Wanda turned. “Welcome to SC.” I greeted her to my side.

 

 Part 10

        

Comments

    • cypermancer

      really interested in where this is going now

      • Lerianis

        The problem with the whole "Bash on the Hobgobwins and gobwins!" is that even on real Earth, people break alliance with groups at various times.

        Examples: World War I and World War II with the Japanese and Russian respectively.

        Add into this that Fate might WANT Stanley to be the head of Gobwin Knob because he is easy to manipulate and your self-insert might be asking for a heaping load of whoopbutt on him. Fate is a nearly omniscient force in Erfworld. Even saying 'in the deepest corners of your mind' that you might fight Fate in the future is asking for trouble because Fate WILL know about that.

        • falcore51

          Still one of the better piece of writings for fan fics, I still don't know where this is headed which I like.

          • Count_to_10

            Wanda is really out of character here.

            If Stanley actually lost, she would shrug her shoulders, assume it was fated, and get on with business.

            • Bandaid

              @Lerianis: Of course people break alliance on Earth all the time. But these guys might break alliance with me and I would rather nip that in the bud.

              @cybermancer and falcore51: Thank you for your comments, I hope I can keep it interesting

              @Count_to_10 Obviously I have a different opinion or I would have written something different. Well she is not my character, I am borrowing her from Rob Balder and only he would have the true answer on what Wanda would or would not do in any situation. But let me try to explain to you why I think I am writing her in character:

              Unlike Parson, Wanda does not see me as fates handpicked instrument. She noticed that something happened during the summoning and is highly suspicious of me. While she does not care at all about Stanley on a personal level she thinks he has a fate to achieve, see the conversation she had with Jillian at the parley of Spacerock. Stanley has an Arkentool, she will get one and she expects that the both of them will write history together. Me showing up and displacing Stanley looks to her as if I was putting her on a much harder path then she had to be. That is why she is angry at me, at least up to the point where I promise to get her her Arkentool.

              I hope I could clarify my view of things. Thank you for your comment, I am trying hard to present all characters in character so I gladly listen to all comments about that.

               

              • Keybounce

                ... need some sort of notification system for when part 10 comes up ...