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                Carl had never been much of a planner. He preferred to watch when possible, and make his maps when he was able. So when the prince contacted him last turn with his request, he thought his work for the turn would be done as soon as he passed along the information.


               That was before he had clues to the numbers. It hadn’t taken him long to locate the forces of Dwagon Berch, they were only three hexes outside the city the prince had designated. In the forest, between the trees of the hex he had looked when he found the first signs, signs which his findamancy skills told him to follow. Tracks, dozens upon dozens of tracks, leading him to the enemy encampment.


               Looking around Carl could clearly see units walking between various large, brightly colored tents. All infantry types, various levels. As the units walked in and out of the many tents, Carl knew he’d have to look inside each one to get an accurate count. He chose one near the enemy perimeter first, and tried to look inside.


               Entry denied. Ticket required. Purchase for 100 shmuckers? Y/N


               Carl blinked, shaking his head. The notice filled his lookamancy vision, covering the area of the tent. He quickly selected ’N’ and tried the next tent, then the next, and the one after that. Each tent he tried to look into had the same odd protection. Then he saw the big tent, more than four times the size of any of the others. It too sent a request for shmuckers to look inside.


               Carl sat down in a chair within the city tower. Hmmm… he wondered, how are they blocking me from looking inside. It clearly isn’t foolamancy… and the pop-up notice… could it be signamancy related?


                He looked again, trying to look inside one of the perimeter tents, bringing up the notice. Carl took the time to look the notice over very carefully, this time focusing on the signamancy aspect.


                Yes, definitely some singamancy here. A simple contract to agree to, a signamancy contracted payment of schmuckers, but how is it stopping me from… Carl facepalmed himself. “Of course!” he exclaimed aloud, the MKΘ was big on carnymancy! Certainly carnymancy would be used more often in item creation. A simple rule break to have a stop sign affect magic instead of (or maybe even including?) units, and a little more juice from the signamancer to add in the contract portion…


                Carl slapped his knee in annoyance. He didn’t have the permissions to spend BooNLund’s treasury to pay the price, and his own shmuckers were his, he had no Duty to spend them to help. Would make things easier, but he wasn’t using his juice for anything else this turn. May as well try and get the information without paying for it first.


                He looked at the hex again, this time focusing more on the numbers. Seven tents, plus the large one, never more than forty units walking between the tents at any one time. Five commanders… no… six commanders, and two of them not wearing armor? Casters? He zoomed in to get a closer look, maybe try and identify the caster’s disciplines, but they had already moved into a tent, having taken one of the warlord types with them.


                Carl sighed, but continued looking around to try and find clues to what other units may be in the tents. Did they have siege? Heavies? The large tent certainly implied presence of heavies. Then he saw it. Thank the Titan of luckamancy! He thought, as he watched a lowly stabber push a wagon out of one of the tents.


                Luckamancy indeed. The timing of him looking at just this moment was good enough, but Carl was more thankful for the luckamancy he wasn’t able to smell what was in the wagon. Dwagon crap. And lots of it, still steaming.


                 Carl zoomed back out to get a good view and think a moment. He had seen dwagons before in his travels, he knew how large they could be. Even the smaller tents were more than large enough to hide a few dwagons within them. This was not good. Dwagons were a tier 3 unit. Most of BooNLund’s forces with the prince were only tier 1 or 2.


                 Not being a mathamancer Carl could only guess at the number of dwagons possible, and he knew he would have to report the worst case scenario. Knowing there were also infantry units within each tent he guessed there could be as many as sixty dwagons in the hex! Even half that would be more than enough to wipe out the forces with the prince.


                Carl shifted, now looking at the city of Nest Egg. He still had to do an overlook of the city itself, but now he had more specifics on what to look for. Hidden air defenses, best points to station archers for assault… possible escapes? Yes, there may be a way for them to escape! If Dwagon Berch has a carnymancer to help make those tents they may have cast over something in the city itself so a defender could escape off turn!


                He looked over the city many times, but try as he might he couldn’t find any clues that led him to believe there was any secret city escape preparations. He was about to give up and have an Archon call it in, when he saw a mouse disappear with a ration of cheese.


                There it was! There was the escape route! And it was not from an item at all, but what simply pops in abandoned cities. Now the difficult part would be convincing the Prince to follow the plan of a hired barbarian caster…






                IldeKroek waited with impatience in the darkness. No, the nothingness… for that’s what this place was. There was no sound, no sight… if not for the occasional movement he felt from his stacked units he may have thought he was croaked. The place must have been cramped, but movement of any kind was difficult, it was tight, he felt like he was restrained.


                 He had time. Though he wasn’t certain how much he had, or how much had passed since they had entered here. The plan had worked so far. He was certain more than enough time had passed for Dwagon Berch to retake Nest Egg… and he was still a unit of BooNLund, and more importantly not a prisoner.


                The lookamancer’s initiative to look for a way out of the situation when he wasn’t contracted to had been a surprise. Most hired barbarians did the minimum they were told, and worked harder to survive so they could get their pay than actually helping. His plan had merit, and would certainly have worked, and may yet work as he had laid out.


                IldeKroek had other plans though. Running away was not his style, and certainly not what he’d want his future unit’s to remember when he was finally granted right to rule this island by the Emperor. He had listened to the lookamancer’s plan and considered it, but he felt it would be better to turn the trap on the trappers.


                It all depended on Dwagon Berch, either way it went.


                IldeKroek knew they had done little damage to the enemy forces. He hadn’t allowed his units to go berserk, they wouldn’t have been able to use the bolt mice if they had. But this place… this ‘bolt hole’ the mouse had made, it would disappear come start of turn, and all his units would appear back in the city at full hits. Then he would know.


                 If the battle could be won… if Dwagon Berch took enough units back out of the city, whether to search for him and his ‘fled’ units, or to some other predetermined location, they would strike with the full rage and fury of BooNLund. If however, for whatever reason, Dwagon Berch’s forces were still too great to defeat, they would fall back onto the lookamancer’s plan and retreat. Doing as much damage as they could before leaving the city.


                 Either way, the newly landed forces from the mainland had moved towards Nest Egg. Only the fliers would be able to reach the city next turn to assist, if possible, otherwise they would be providing greater guard for the retreating forces.


                 IldeKroek shifted uncomfortably as he felt a tingle in his mind. An Archon was calling by thinkagram. URGENT. Parley in Action.


                 Huh, I didn’t think I would be able to receive thinkagrams in here. He closed his eyes, or at least thought he had closed them, to accept the thinkagram. In his mind he called, *What is the situation?*


                 An Archon’s face appeared, one which he recognized as Mary Sue, his point of contact with Jones down in Frost Deep. *Reporting in sire,* She thought at him, *FrostDeep under our command as expected. Unknown forces approached docks and signaled for parley. Colonel Jones accepted, but their fleet signaled back they would only speak with our ‘chief’.*


                 *Accept, signal that you will fly over so they may speak with me.*


                 *Yes sir.*


                 There was a pause. It would be a few minutes to signal, and for Mary Sue to fly over, so he waited.


                 *What? That it? I speak to That Chief now?* The voice that now came through somehow sounded gravelly and high-pitched at the same time. That would get on his last nerve quickly.


                 *This is Chief Warlord IldeKroek, son of Ghyaholl, prince of BooNLund. To whom am I speaking?*


                 *huh? This Chief? This High Chief Crabbenuts. This Chief see, this Chief cautious. This Chief wonder That Chief intent.*


                 The speakers words were confusing, and short clipped. Could it not speak language properly? *My intent?* IldeKroek wondered at that a moment. He had never been asked that before, though he believed he understood the question. Problem was he was already fighting a war on two fronts… he could not afford a third enemy in this fight.*I intend to control this island, by sword or by alliance, dependent upon the desires of those present. Which Side do you speak for?* He hoped that opening would be enough to get at least a temporary non-aggression pact with these people.


                 *Side? We ARRris. We ARRris strong. That Chief strong too. That Chief take from Berch Chief. This Chief want be safe, Chief’s King not want big island. Want That Chief no fight us.*


                 Did he hear that right? Almost sounded like a ‘t’ in place of the ‘r’ in Berch. And what was with him saying ‘Are is’ what kind of…Wait, did he say ARRris? Ildekroek’s eyes nearly popped open, what a fortuitous development. Visionary Angela must be casting very hard indeed. *Well Chief Crabbenut… I think we can come to an agreement that would benefit us both…*






                 The fleet moved north, towards where That Chief said to go. They would fight. They would ally. Then they would win. Simple plans were the best plans, at least as far as the King cared. Chief Crabbenuts, or Crabby as his crew called him, had smiled after the negotiations. A good contract. Three Turns of alliance for helping in one battle. He would even be able to claim first rights to the spoils!


                 Meeting That Chief to the face would be good too. Was weird speaking to the air. Though the pretty woman had been nice to look at while he spoke. Air speak was strange, Crabby now knew why King wanted it though. Air speak would be of use, like boats.


                 But Crabby would not use this boat for long. He would return though. A cry from the krow’s nest informed him that land in view. They would land. They would march and float two hexes. Then they fight. They would ally. Then they would win. Crabby smiled, this turn was a good turn.




Mechanics Corner


Bolt Mice- an environment mob. Only pops in cities which have few units in them. The fewer the units in the city, the more of them that pop. Bolt Mice have a special that makes eradicating them a nuisance, called bolt. This special allows them to disappear into what is aptly named a bolt hole (an area separate from the hex it is in) until they are forced out at the start of their turn. A tamed Bolt Mouse can create a bolt hole large enough for 4 average sized units.




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