The Life and Adventures of Sir Edelbert Spore
Previous: Volume 22

 

Volume 23

 

Hurrah, Hurrah

 

Turn 5830 – Startling News Journal,

 

All indications are that the SDE, Tarzania and the Darkest Knights Kingdom are now in an alliance. Scout reports regarding troop movements of the three sides came in all mixed together over enemy turn rather than in the regularly ordered batches. There is no other explanation. Only if they shared a turn would our scouts encounter movement from all three simultaneously.

 

This surely means trouble for us. Kernel advises consolidating our forces toward the central kingdom. Although this may result in losing some of the outlying cities, we would be in a much more capable position from which to defend. If this alliance is directed at us, we will have some hard turns ahead but we will endure.

 

Arthur intends to reach out to King Legosi and make overtures of peace. We have never had issues with them before and can see no reason to start now. It is also our understanding that their cities and capital are a considerable distance away. War with them would be drawn out and difficult for both sides.

 


Turn 5842 – Big Loss Today,

 

The DKK attacked and took Laftrak. The troops put up an admirable fight but were considerably outmatched in number of units and leadership. This attack means that diplomacy has failed. A major blow has been struck against us.

 

We did learn something vital from this encounter. The DKK have a Croakamancer, and a powerful one to boot. A significant section of the attacking force was comprised of Uncroaked led by a Caster. I had a brief discussion with Dee about the battle and she is certain that for the Croakamancer to have maintained a force that large for that long meant that they were a particularly skilled Master.

 

Our hope is that the river and dense jungle will hold them back, at least for a time. Attacks at Cliffside are expected. That entire flank will need significant reinforcements.

 


Turn 5849 – The Round Table is Worried,

 

Silent but Deadly troops took back both Tiptoe and Hush, a level 2 and 1 city respectively. This is a harsh blow to the SDE front. We now know they have significant forces in the area as well.

 

Losing these cities takes away our ability to effectively strike into SDE territory. I warned the Table that we would be better off spending the schmuckers upgrading one or both of those cities. Instead we diverted troops elsewhere. Again, it was decided that me being on that front was too risky because of the repeated attempts to capture me.



I disagree. Little good that has done.

 

The SDE has a Foolamancer, they must. Both strike forces descended upon our cities without being seen until the turn before they struck. I can think of no other way to accomplish such a thing. This is not the first time I have suspected the interference of a Fool either. We will prevail no matter how many casters they have.

 

****

 

King Amanita was not the type of Royal who wasted schmuckers on a great deal of extravagance. As a Royal Monarch he had a duty to maintain a certain lifestyle but he much preferred to be a practical ruler. No unit was popped perfect, and Kings were no exception. One of his primary indulgences was to host regular dinner parties. These gatherings served many purposes.

 

Commonly diplomatic, guests such as Chief Harvey Ford of the Ford Prefecture regularly attended. Prefect Ford had also been invited and a plan for safe travel was in the works. Annie Warbucks, Ruler of Hamerica, also stopped in on occasion. The three sides regularly exchanged magical services and she would usually stay for a meal after she reviewed the Mushroomish books. Arthur had even hosted a small attaché from the Veganites for a few dozen turns.

 

Officers and units which distinguished themselves in one way or another were often invited to these events as well, providing an internal political usefulness. Dinner with the King was something regularly discussed amongst the Mushroomish troops. It was considered a high honor and many units on the side used it as motivation for excellence. This was by no means limited to the units from the tribe of Man.

 

Perhaps most useful of all, these dinners could be educational. Casters from the Magic Kingdom were welcome to attend, if friends of his own casters. He would schmooze them in the hopes of their willingness to cast for his side in the future. A good meal was an uncommon treat for the barbarians apparently. Something interesting the King had learned at these dinners was that given a couple glasses of wine or brandy and any unit; caster, warlord, courtier, or piker, would happily talk at great length about their expertise. This was an excellent way to keep his royal finger on the pulse of the Kingdom and had taught him much of magic.

 

But deep down at the heart of the thing, when honest with himself, these dinners were for the King. They were for his curiosity, for his wanderlust, for his boredom, and for his loneliness. The burden of kingship was not light and some days it could be rather fatiguing. However tonight was proving to be an interesting and lucrative meal.

 

“I cannot believe none of you have heard this before.” Dee Ceased, a regular attendee, let fly an enthusiastic laugh. “Really, I mean this is Croakamancy 101 people. Edelbert have I never mentioned this to you, especially with your talents and your Princess?”

 

If he had been told before, he had forgotten. Which considering the current tactical importance would have been highly neglectful on his part. “No Dee, this does not ring any bells. I think I would have remembered that Flower Power obliterates the Uncroaked. Like you just said, this would have particular relevance to me.”

 

Even as he spoke Edelbert could see that the King and the three warlords present were exchanging meaningful glances while gears began to furiously turn within their minds.

 

The Croakamancer bowed her head in apology toward Edelbert. “Allow me to correct my error. Croakamancy is often reliant on the cessation of or harming of Life. As I understand it many Flower Power spells work by overwhelming units with Life force, such as pacification and fertilization effects. Uncroaked and certain other Croakamancy creations are catastrophically weak to elements of Flower Power. I have never encountered a Florist personally, in the field I mean, but I am told that even the most basic spells become devastating.”

 

Everyone in the room was focused entirely on the words Dee spoke. An eerie silence loomed for a few moments as the implications of this settled into their minds.

 

Valerie Kano had just returned from the contested wilderness dividing the Kingdom and Tarzania. Accompanied by a few select units, she had managed to croak more than a four hundred enemy troops over the last two dozen turns alone. She was the highest level warlord on the side and two levels above Chief Kernel. It was her who broke the silence.

 

“Lady Dee, when you say devastating, you mean that it does damage to the Uncroaked? You are telling us that Flower Power is literally a weapon against Croakamancy?”

 

Dee’s face showed just as much confusion as it did amusement. “No, I am telling you it is the BEST weapon against Croakamancy.”

 

A dimwitted stabber named Moe Ron blurted out suddenly. “Well isn’t that great news. I heard that they say the new enemy has a Croakamancer among their ranks and a mean one too. I mean, if you can even find a nice Croakamancer.”

 

All the commanders present, except Dee, looked toward the Princess.

 

“I swear,” she said almost under her breath. “I had no idea”

 


****



Edelbert stood on the parapet of the blocky Cliffside tower and watched as two contrasting armies prepared to strike at the city. Using his Looking Glass, he could see many details of the enemy composition.

 

To the west was a writhing mass of black. Infantry, knights, heavies, and uncroaked seemed to be in almost constant motion. Their ranks shifted and rolled like an ocean. Great Horned Beasts blared, swaying their huge heads and furiously working their mouths as if already chewing a fallen foe. Leather-bound Warlords skittered about on their armored Spidews. Decayed and decrepit corpses shambled around seemingly without purpose beyond their continued motion. Fully armored Dark Knights sparred and clashed, some even taking Hits amidst the competition. Dexterous Wobins swooped about while vicious Batarangs circled the airspace. The entire horde seemed to be worked into a chaotic frenzy barely contained by their orders.

 

To the east was a bright white army standing perfectly at attention in precise rank and file. Stack upon stack of tall lithe Silent Knights stood with their thin curved blades held ready. Warlords rode massive Book Worms, signaling orders in their strange wordless language. Creeper Vines slinked about, trying to remain unseen despite the open field. A great flock of Nevermores circled above, keeping separate from the other group of aerial daemon the SDE had assembled. A number of Inklings oozed and burbled in place, calmly awaiting their chance to consume their foes. Hovering just above the heads of the SDE infantry was a glowing cloud of deadly Wisp-ers. A significant contingent of Altruist Elves also accompanied the army, which meant their troops would not fall easily.

 

Both armies had come prepared for fierce battle.

 

Inside the walls waited a third army. Just over half of the Mushroomish leadership was present in the city. This included the Chief Warlord and the Chief Caster, but it also included the Princess and Chief Turnip. The Round Table had decided that this battle was the time to make a stand. If the advancing onslaught could not be stopped here, then it was unlikely to be stopped at the capital. Enemy progress had to end or the side was in great peril.

 

The Dirtamancer was stationed in the tower to orchestrate the magical defenses of Cliffside. A multitude of spells had been hung on the tower as well as a sizable reserve of offensive Juice. His primary objective was to hold the walls together as long as possible. Beyond that, eliminating significant threats within the airspace was of high tactical priority. The surprises he and Peaches had worked up were to be used at his discretion as well, but he intended to hold them in reserve if possible. This may well not be the only attack on Cliffside in the near future.

 

The Chief daemon sighed deeply. “I need to be getting to my post. Kernel wants the Weirdish and I to spread out and spam Rant against high value targets. I am also to manipulate the leadership as much as my ability’s will allow, ours or theirs. I wish you the best of Luck Edelbert. Give them Hellabad.”

 

Edelbert found himself strangely calm. “We are going to win this battle, of that I am certain.”

 

Turnip shook it’s head, causing its six petals to sway back and forth. “If I had a schmucker for every time I had heard Mother warn you of arrogance, I could probably pay my whole tribes upkeep for a turn. I’m glad to see you are still not listening, old friend” The floral deamon released a high trilling laugh.

 

At that moment, as if awaiting the signal of laughter, the armies converged on the walls.

 

****

 

Upon learning of the interaction between Flower Power and Croakamancy, Peaches felt as if she had failed her discipline and side all at once. It was devastating, but she had a decorum to maintain. She sat through the dinner doing her best not to show her deteriorating emotional state. Afterward she returned to her chambers and brooded. She had little time, so she stayed up late into the night considering the issue.

 

The only recourse she could come up with was to remedy her ignorance so that she might properly fulfil her role. She felt lucky to have such a mentor as Edelbert, but he did not know everything. Besides, as a Dirtamancer his perspective always seemed to lean that direction. He was quite skilled but he was no Florist. The obvious choice was to head into the Magic Kingdom.

 

The Hippiemancer’s octant had never been an easy place for the Princess to spend time. Although she was thoroughly interested in all three disciplines, she was consistently unable to engage any of the Hippies in more than passing conversation. It was public knowledge that Walt Dismay of the SDE had bullied and threatened until the Mushroomish casters were effectively blacklisted within the Glade.

 

The Great Library was an easy exception. Despite being maintained by the Signamancers, access and use of the books was only monitored within a scant few wings. Any caster was welcome to peruse the vast multitude of shelves for any topic or genre they might desire. Peaches had certainly taken advantage of the resource the Library really was. She also enjoyed the irony of being forced to study in the hall of the Signamancers because her reputation had been tarnished by one.

 

Most of the rest of the Glade was covered by the Great Garden. It was a wonderous and beautiful place. Its many fields and terraces were filled with flora from all over Erfworld and even things that could only be found within the Garden.

 

It took some time and the greasing of palms, but eventually she found someone to discuss the situation with. What she learned was one of the tightest kept secrets in all of Hippiemancy, or at least kept from other caster types. Just like all Erfworlders, on some deep level Hippiemancers craved combat and exulted in its thrill. It was the loss of Life which was abhorred by Florists, not the battle itself. The emotional tension and discord which combat brought was what offended the Date-a-mancers senses. For Signamancers it was the chaos and turmoil of war. This dichotomy caused great frustration for many of the preferentially peaceful casters, but Uncroaked provided a special circumstance. Where else could one find a unit which had no life of its own and was by its very being an affront to Life itself?

 

Croaking the Uncroaked held no negative moral repercussions. Not only was destroying them removing abominations from the face of the Erf, but by eliminating the shambling units one was saving other units from engaging them and being harmed. Date-a-mancers knew the exultation of recroaking the decayed units was immense while the emotional impact on the side of the Uncroaked was minimal. No one cared about their side losing what amounted to little more than a corpse. Even Signamancers could revel in the thrill of eliminating the Uncroaked as an affront to the Natural Order. It was the perfect situation for Hippies to sate some of their baser desires while still upholding the tenets which they preached. This would be all well and good except for one unfortunate factor.

 

The rush of battle was a strong one. War could make you feel sharper, faster, smarter, more powerful even to the point of feeling invincible. Units could get used to nearly anything and in time could come to expect such things, often becoming dependent on them. Hippiemancers were known for their indulgent personalities and lacking self-restraint. Losing oneself to battle-frenzy was a significant concern and an awful tragedy. When a Hippiemancer crossed the line from friendly to furious, they were branded Feral. Once labelled such, you were banished from the MK for the rest of turns. Any other Hippie which encountered you elsewhere would do all in their power to bring about your demise. Ferals were considered a threat to the very sanctity of Hippie culture. To succumb was seen as regressing toward the atrocities of the Alpha Age.

 

Florists were in dittoed danger. Their connection to Life and the flow of the natural world exposed them to certain truths about the brutality and ambivalence which Life could exhibit. Upkeep had to be paid and in the hearts of the wild that was all too often done by croaking something. A single Florist could annihilate an entire legion of Uncroaked, given the right circumstances. Many Florists secretly imagined the intense rush evoked by croaking hundreds of units and gaining two, three, four levels in a matter of mere minutes. The Ultimate High was whispered about in the darkest corners of the Glade and the deepest recesses of Florist’s hearts.



Flower Power might be the greatest weapon against Croakamancy, but it turned out Croakamancy was certainly the greatest weakness of Florists.

 

Now Peaches stood in the street, specifically placed to maximize her exposure to the oncoming enemy. Stack upon stack of Heartshrooms and Toadie Knights stood ready, eager to defend their city and Princess with their lives. Commanders on Tarantulip back and bulky Stoned Twolls prepared to handle any enemy units which were not croaked or pacified by the Princess.

 

A swarm of angry units writhed just outside a gate which had begun to open, allowing them to poor into a prepared croakingfield.

 

The force of Peace which she would be bringing to bear was overwhelming. Enough combined Juice to obliterate droves of Uncroaked and pacify even the most aggressive of living units was waiting at her command. Her efforts on this turn would protect her Side, but she would do so by enabling a wholesale slaughter. Rather than feeling fear, as she had expected, when the battle began she felt a calm focus.

 

Today she would be a force of nature.

 


****

 

Chief Kernel Claypool had learned a great deal in his life. As a warlord, one of his most valuable lessons had been that every unit had an advantage. It might be against a specific unit or special. It could be in rare circumstance or task. Oftentimes it was obvious and other times it was impossible to see what a unit would be good for until it happened, the Tragikarp were one such example (he hoped). He was certain though, even the flopping fish had to be ideal for something (whatever that was). The concept was one that he consistently found to be proved true, among his own troops and the enemy’s.

 

Floating high above the city of Cliffside, Kernel found himself considering his own advantages. He had always felt that being an aerial warlord, especially Chief, gave him a huge tactical bonus over other commanders. The view from high above a battle allowed him a broad perspective of how things would play out. It also allowed him to quickly redeploy to areas where his bonus was most needed. The negation to major move penalties also provided him a great deal of flexibility within the sides greater battle space. There were offensive perks too. Although dive-bomb attacks could be dangerous, his Rider special and Leadership bonus removed most of the risk. Units rarely anticipated the gambit. Aerial bombardment was always an economical way to dispose of ground troops who had no ranged support. As well, the speed of the Arrow Frogs made for easy dodging especially when combined with his bonuses. It was hard for him to imagine why all Chiefs did not get airborne more often.

 

So far the battle was going well. The Darkest Knights had charged right through the gates and into Peaches contingent. The Toadie army had been placed with the hopes of capitalizing on Peaches bonuses to expedite the fight. Ending the Darkest army was key in the success of this battle. It seemed to be working.

 

Kernel had done a few flyby strikes on leadership stacks amongst the DKK and had inflicted significant wounds against their exposed warlords. Dart Frogs unleashed regular volleys toward the enemy troops and their poison struck troops units without remorse.

 

A crashing roar erupted from the eastern side of the city which immediately demanded the Chief’s attention. He could feel that the walls had already been breached. That was a very bad sign. As he got his bearings of the new situation, the groups of enemy fliers broke through the hex border. Orders flowed from him with a silent practice as he and his Flying Frog Brigade leapt into action.

 

All of the incoming enemy b-lined at Kernel and his air force. For the smallest moment he considered dropping to the ground to join the mass of his troops, but only for a moment. By grounding himself and his Frogs he would remove all of the aerial advantages from his troops, especially his own potent abilities. Although he would be outnumbered in the air, he would also be considerably more powerful. The SDE in particular had brought mostly light fliers supported by little leadership. Even though the Batarangs and Wobins of the DKK were formidable, if he could thin the SDE troops quickly enough then he could battle the Darkest in earnest. It was going to be tight either way but he was certain this was the right way to go.

 

Before he could issue the order, lightning tore through the sky and into the two flocks of Silent daemon. Chief Spore was clearly focused on his Duty.

 

The Brigade dropped altitude somewhat and went to intercept the SDE group. It would give him extra time to clear out some enemy units before he was fighting both groups and by being closer to the ground he could receive ranged support from the archers and Dart Frogs below.

 

With practiced precision, the force of Arrow Frogs formed into a spear formation. As another blast of Shockamancy arced into the group of light daemon, Kernel veered into the flight of Nevermores. There was a warlord on a Nevermind amidst the flock and knocking that leadership out of the fight quickly would ease much of the pressure the Mushroomish Air Force would have to endure.

 

As the frogs punched into the ravens, Kernel ordered his soldiers to focus on opening up a path so he could take a shot at the snow white commander. His knights had been trained specifically for this kind of action and struck with ferocity. Multiple of the birds were knocked from the sky with eyes x’d out. The opening appeared and Chief Claypool took his shot. The head of the enemy warlord came clean off her shoulders and his frog hit the Nevermind with a barb to the eye. It was a very successful attack run. A Luckamancer could not have hoped for much better.

 

Suddenly Kernel found himself cloaked in shadow. Something massive unexpectedly came in from behind him. With a finely honed reflex his mount rolled up and to the left in an attempt at a blind dodge.

 

Somehow he saw it before he felt it. A thick black point protruded from his chest where the Mushroomish Kingdom’s crest was emblazoned on his leather armor.

 

And then…

 

 

****

 

Fencers were a type of specialized Stabber unit which most sides could pop as one in a multitude of common unit variations. High attack and move made for a very effective light offensive unit. Their rapiers danced among enemies, sowing pain and death where they flowed. Pierce was a Fencer and was quite proud of his profession. He and his rapier had croaked many units and he knew they had earned his 4 levels together. His low Hits and Defense meant he spent much of his time staring at a big metal wall. That wall was named Brick and he was a 3rd level Defender.

 

Pierce and Brick were partners, both on and off the field of battle. They had been serendipitously stuck together at level 1 and were not planning on being separated anytime soon. Even the warlords tried to keep them together as much as possible. The two had a natural rapport and rhythm which made them very effective. Their styles worked in concert to minimize the weaknesses of both units while maximizing the strengths. Brick took hits. Pierce dealt them. The system seemed to work.

 

“Stay behind me Pierce.” Brick said as a part of his usual prebattle checklist.

 

The Fencer rolled his eyes and sighed. “Really? I would bet you also want me to keep my head down and my eyes open?”

 

“Yes. Exactly.” The heavily armored man showed no hint of humor in his tone or posture. “You may have the words memorized but you do not yet understand their importance. I am trying to keep you safe. Sometimes despite yourself, my love.”

 

Pierce found Brick’s prebattle preparations to be disruptive of his own emotional preparations. He preferred a quiet moment to calm and focus himself. “You do a fine job of it. Look at us, level 3 and 4. That is thanks to your shield and diligence. Remember that time you caught that arrow before it critted me?”

 

“That was sheer blind Luckamancy and you know it. You are trying to distract me with flattery so that I will stop, but I won’t. This battle feels different somehow. We are all in a great deal of danger. This will sound crazy, but the air just does not taste right.”

 

A worried look crossed Pierce’s sharp facial features. “You can taste that this battle is going to go badly?”

 

One of the common Stabbers from another stack leaned forward and said. “The Defender is right. I feel it too.”

 

“No doubt.” A Chopper unit said from a third stack. “I heard that if we lose the city today then the side is doomed to fall in the next ten turns. Even the Warlords look nervous.”

 

This was all the usual prebattle chatter. Rumors would fly amongst the infantry like so many arrows. The warlords were always “nervous”. The battle was always of “dire importance”. The end was always coming. Some people would get swept up in the noise, but Pierce knew better than to believe any of it. If he was supposed to know what was going on, then he would be promoted to Warlord. “You all need to stop your speculation and focus on what you are about to be doing. If you get your heads in the fight we are more likely to win this thing, right? Do your Duty.”

 

A passing Warlord was just within earshot of the conversation. “Good man. You should all take a page from this unit’s book. Such an admirable example. We are here to protect our King and country. Worrying about what may happen tomorrow is a waste. Focus on what is ahead and we will persevere. Fight hard and follow your Orders. We will get through this together!”

 

To Infantry, being directly addressed by a Warlord always had a certain weight to it. It was as if every word carried a silent order to stand at the ready and listen. This was a big part of why the common units were always uncomfortable around the Leadership. It was impossible to fully relax with them nearby. It made no difference if one was standing in stack about to charge an enemy line or if everyone was sitting in the tavern and telling war stories, that unspoken tension was always there.

 

As a level 4, Pierce was not as susceptible to such passive manipulation from a low ranked warlord. “Not a bad pep-talk for a level 2 commander. I mean, I have heard better but that was pretty good for an impromptu speech.”

 

Brick assumed a recriminating posture, his shoulders tensed and his eyes focused intently down on the Fencer. “You are trying to derail the conversation again Pierce. I know you think this is all silly, but it is a matter of life or croak. I will not lose you for anything short of the whole battle being lost. I consider keeping you alive to be as important a Duty as the protection of the Side. I swear my fealty to King Arthur, but it is you who have my truest Loyalty, my dearest love.”

 

This talk had started to seriously worry Pierce. His partner was usually light hearted, in his own cautiously paranoid way. “Things are going to be alright. We are not croaking today. The side is not ending.”

 

At that moment a deep rumble and splintering boomed from somewhere nearby.

 

The assembled troops immediately received a general order to come to attention and prepare for combat. A massive Bull Frog carrying Max Power leapt to the fore of the assembled twenty stack battalion. He was the level 5 commander of the group and a well-regarded Warlord amongst the Mushroomish troops. “Walls have been breached. Restack to form a defensive battle line. Then we march to the causeway and hold the SDE as long as we can. May the Titans be with us all.”

 

A flurry of motion occurred as Max’s orders were executed. It was a testament to his prowess as a commander how efficiently the reorganization took place.

 

“This isn’t right.” Brick said with both worry and aggression. “The walls were supposed to hold for quite some time to allow the Dark army to be defeated first. Chief Spore was supposed to see to that. Something is wrong. I told you we were in trouble.”

 

Pierce hid his worry, but still drew his weapon. “The trouble is for anyone who stands against us. My blade will see to that. Everyone focus up, marching orders incoming.”

 

Almost as one, the assembled troops began to move forward on order. The multitude of boots struck an eerily unified rhythm as they approached the main causeway. The beat of feet escalated into a rumbling roar which flowed down the street only to collide with another riotous cacophony. In the main street combat had already begun. Unfortunately, the battle line had passed the avenue which Pierce and Brick’s contingent were approaching from. Their orders had been to stop the enemy advance and that was no longer possible, but this did give the advantage that they would be charging into the enemies open flank.

 

Four stacks wide, the Mushroomish soldiers had sped to a full run. The SDE troops were focused on the fighting and had shown no signs of seeing Brick and Pierce’s rapidly advancing group. At the feet of the forward MK stacks the ground suddenly crumbled and then collapsed away underneath them.

 

Three stacks of unled Mudcrabs erupted from the street which caused a large pit to burst open. The Heavies immediately began snipping heads off the units which had fallen into the trap.

 

Brick stopped just in the nick of time and he held up his arms as if to catch the rest of their stack. Fortunately, he did not have to because the others stopped as well.

 

Warlord Power ordered the forward troops to focus on a single Mudcrab and hit it ‘til it croaked. Infantry charged after one while the archery focused down on the back ranks of the daemon crabs, another sign of the skills of Max. His personal stack of Bull Frogs leapt over the heads of the engaged infantry and crashed down on the shells of the saucer-like crustaceans inflicting massive damage.

 

Pierce had to focus and choose his target. Punching through the armor of a Heavy could be very tricky with a fragile rapier. Going for a direct body attack was unlikely to succeed, but the Fencer had enough experience that he knew what to do. A massive pincer swung down only to be intercepted by Brick. That was Pierce’s moment. With a quick drop and roll, he came up around Brick and jammed his blade straight through a writhing eyestalk. It was a critical shot and it caused the giant crab to rear back in pain. A stack of Pikers in the rearguard took the opening of soft flesh and as a group brought down the beast.

 

As the soldiers turned to face another Mudcrab, a wave of arrows arched into the sky and came raining down amongst the troops. Once again Brick was on alert and drew up his shield to the incoming volley. Oddly, not a single arrow hit. No one in any of the targeted stacks took any damage.

 

“Foolamancy!” Max Power shouted out at his soldiers. “Some of these must be Muddlecrabs. Scouts restack for maximum Veil spotting. Everyone else, stay focused and keep your eyes open. Prioritize croaking the Muddles when they are exposed.”

 

The next few rounds against the crabs were intense. The bodies of the croaked and severed limbs of the living littered the ground. Although the SDE daemon were powerful, they were also out matched and unled. Under the direction of Max, that portion of the fight wrapped up quickly, but the battle was only just beginning.

 

Moving out onto the main causeway provided Pierce a much grander view of the battle. Everything was in complete chaos. SDE troops had penetrated well into the city but seemed to be mostly contained within the single avenue. A great number of daemon were on the frontline furiously attacking the Mushroomish troops. Behind the enemy Pokedaemon, stacks of Silent Knights pushed forward clearing out the already softened units. A large number of Bull Frogs and Book Worms were locked in combat, while the warlords controlling the stacks fought some sort of group duel. Altruist Elves wandered about, applying Healing to the wounded SDE and administering cous de grace on any incapacitated Mushroomish troops. By no means did this indicate a losing battle.

 

The Kingdom had considerably more Leadership within the hex than both of their attackers combined, and it did show in the ebb and flow of the engagement. The contingent of Mushroomish daemon was significant, although many of them primarily focused on supporting regular troops with their variety of specials. Except the Thwimps and Sheeple which rampaged within the front lines.

 

A sudden blast of lightning sprayed from the tower into a group of fliers, causing Pierce to look up. The bodies of Twobats and Pudgeys dropped from the sky into the melee, completely unnoticed by the majority of the ground troops. As he watched, a massive black Nevernever Unveiled among the lesser Nevermores. It swooped forcefully into a group of Arrow Frogs and a terrible shock passed throughout the Mushroomish army. Suddenly they were fighting without a Chief Warlord bonus.

 

The push of the SDE gained immediate momentum. They surged forward and toward the garrison. It was only after a few chaotic rounds that the Mushroomish regained their footing. A new Chief was instated and they had a higher bonus than Claypool used to have. Valerie Kano was now in charge of the battle.

 

New orders came immediately. “Retreat to the edges of the main causeway. Contain the enemy within the avenue”

 

The Mushroomish troops broke combat on the lines and performed the maneuver swiftly. Backing off did cause losses, but it allowed the Kingdom to reestablish a strong front

 

A few quick rounds passed for Pierce and Brick. SDE troops charged into the reestablished battle lines and began furiously pushing to break out and away toward the garrison. The new Chief bonus was showing in the defensive response of all of the units which Pierce could see. The SDE was making progress but it was slower than it had been.

 

All along the causeway little green flowers sprouted and grew up between the paving stones. As units began to encounter the blossoms they seemed to get distracted and giddy. Troops which were exposed on both sides began stumbling about and laughing without apparent reason. Just as quickly as they had appeared, the small buds shriveled and sank back under the stones.

 

As soon as the blooms were gone, another mass order was sent. “Attack now. Prioritize effected units.”

 

Along with all of their brethren troops, Pierce and Brick waded into stumbling crowd in the street. Although not all of the units or unit types were effected, a relentless assault ensued against the SDE. The ebb and tide of battle continued.

 

                                                                   ****


Witnessing a battle from the vantage of a tower was considerably less harrowing than being amidst the melee. Edelbert hated it. There was no action. Watching from afar just did not have the same oomph. Removing the danger from the equation took away the excitement, intrigue, and the rewards for participating. He felt lucky that Peaches had usually been assigned the duty of tower control.

 

Until a few rounds prior, the battle for Cliffside had been going just about how the Mushroomish leadership had hoped.

 

The Darkest Knights had charged immediately in once the gates had been opened to them. All indications had been that the Princess was handling the engagement wonderfully. Droves of DKK units were either destroyed or pacified and they had not pushed into the city at all. Indications were that the enemy Croakamancer was not present at the battle but had been with their troops as recently as the turn before. This was an unexpected boon, even though the Dirtamancer had secretly hoped to encounter the Naughtymancer.

 

The Silent but Deadly Empire had begun with a more traditional assault on the walls. They had come with a large block of siege units as well a fair sized group of Dirtle. This was another reason it was decided Edelbert was best used in the tower for this battle. A Master Dirtamancer enhanced by the resources of a well-prepared tower could maintain a city’s walls for a considerable time, even against a significant assault. The plan relied on his ability to delay the SDE as long as possible so that the DKK could be handled first.

 

All plans inevitably failed.

 

Without warning or apparent cause, a massive burst of Dirtamancy had erupted from the SDE ranks. With a thunderous shearing sound the southern gate of Cliffside crumbled. It was entirely possible that the SDE had brought a Dirtamancer. The wide opening was far too large for Edelbert to repair with any expediency. Enemy Dirtle and Mudcrabs continued to tear at the walls as the rest of the army charged through the opening.

 

As soon as the gates were busted down, both groups of enemy fliers came shrieking into the hex’s airspace. It was initially expected that the respective groups of fliers would engage at the same time as their ground based counterparts. By conjoining the assaults of their air forces, the SDE and DKK had effectively made the Mushroomish fight on three fronts simultaneously rather than two back to back. It was a precarious position to be in.

 

A fluttering cloud of mostly Pudgy and Twobat poured across the hex boundary on the SDE side along with a smaller flock of Nevermores. Not only did the DKK Batarangs and Wobins charge, but a couple stacks of previously unnoticed Ossein Vultures took to the sky from amongst the army. The target of the enemy fliers was clear. Both groups swept through the air directly towards Chief Claypool and his Flying Frog Brigade. This left Edelbert few options to assist Kernel and very little time to do it. He decided immediately to blast the SDE group. They consisted of mostly light fliers and they had brought a larger contingent of leadership. He would score more croaks and if he was lucky he might eliminate a high value target or two.

 

Pure Shockamancy forked off the tower and into the daemon flock. Edelbert felt multiple little bumps of xp as charred bodies dropped from the sky. It seemed he and Kernel were on the same page because the Warlord turned and streaked toward the SDE fliers. As soon as possible, Spore let loose with another blast. This time he was almost certain he had downed a warlord or other powerful unit. There was a much larger bump of XP compared with the first blast.

 

The Dirtamancer began to focus up another jolt of Shockamancy but found himself too late. A hulking Nevernever appeared from nowhere within the cloud of Nevermores which Kernel was engaging. The terrifying beast descended quickly on Chief Claypool and his mount. It was too far away to make out the details, but only a moment later Edelbert was left with no Chief Warlord bonus.

 

A dear friend had just been croaked before his helpless eyes. Edelbert was awash with sadness and guilt. Just as quickly as it appeared his emotions turned to seething rage. Electricity coursed through his fingers and he unleashed a maximum power blast wildly into the swarm of enemy fliers. More bodies plummeted downward.

 

A moment later and the Chief bonus reappeared, but higher this time. Val had to be the new Chief. Another moment and he was hit with a powerful order to “support the eastern approach and delay the SDE as long as possible”. It seemed the original plan was still a go, with some on the fly adjustments.

 

It seemed to be time to pull out some of the surprises. All over the city, Edelbert and Peaches has spread Silly Lily seeds. Then each had placed spells on the tower to trigger near instantaneous growth of the intoxicating flowers. He summoned the trigger word and focused down main street. “Miracle Grow”

 

The spell worked exactly as expected but Edelbert did not watch. With Kernel no longer in the air, he had a responsibility to aid the fliers. Without Claypool’s bonus the other aerial warlords were a great deal less powerful. At Edelbert’s command arc after arc of lightning tore through the air to smite the enemies of the Mushroomish Kingdom. Scorched bats and roasted fowl rained down upon Cliffside.

 

Taking a few moments to gauge the new situation, the Dirtamancer decided he had to do more for ground support. All around the city were locked pit traps which he had installed over the turns. Using triggers stored within the tower he unlocked a great many of those traps within the areas of enemy occupation. Little bubbles of XP floated up to him from all about the city.

 

Without warning the door to the tower Atrium exploded inward as if a Siege Heavy had charged recklessly through. Edelbert had received no warning that the Tower had been breached, so he was especially shocked to have direct enemy contact.

 

“Halt.” He called out before he had even fully turned around. “Surrender now or face the wrath of a Master Dirtamancer.”

 

Unsurprisingly no answer was forthcoming. Three stacks of Silent Knights swiftly moved into the room and without hesitation engaged his stacks of golem. The stone units responded in kind.

 

Edelbert allowed the Tower to take a shot without his guidance. Instead he turned on his attackers. His personal stack took on a full defensive posture and he began to cast “Geocache”

 

A stack of Darkest Knights with a mid-level warlord also came charging into the room at that moment. Spore spun on his heels and blasted his spell into them instead. “Geosmash”

 

The Darkest units all took considerable Hits. No XP came so Edelbert knew he had only incapacitated some of the units rather than croak them. The warlord seemed unharmed and locked eyes with the Caster. They were wild and intelligent eyes. They showed no signs of fear or remorse. In fact, they were focused in a furious sort of way. Edelbert found himself startled.

 

Things were already going badly for the golem. For some reason, very few of the Mushroomish attacks was hitting their mark. The SDE units were hitting over and over, achieving an unnatural accuracy. Something was seriously wrong and the Dirtamancer was beginning to worry that Lee Prechaun was manipulating the battle. Too much had gone wildly off plan.

 

This time, a warlord and a stack of Wisp-era came charging into the room. The translucent orb units hovered above the melee and came immediately at the Caster. This attack was almost certainly targeted specifically at Edelbert.

 

For his part he was unsure what best to do. Trusting in his discipline, he cast once again. “Mountain Dew, Surge, Fanta.” A wave of acid swept into existence at the Dirtamancers feet and splashed out over the room. Almost all the units present were effected, his and the enemies.

 

This time he got some XP, but more than that as well. The enemy group fuzzed around the edges and then they all changed. The Silent Knights evaporated away and in their place stood a pack of Tar, zanian Wildmen. They were streaked with acid burns but showed no signs of slowing their assault. At the center of the savages stood a calm and well dressed man.

 

On his head rested a simple black bowler, slightly askew. His shirt was a clean white and neatly pressed despite current battle. The dark grey slacks which he wore were held aloft by a matching pair of suspenders. He wore a pair of spectacles, shined black shoes, and carried a curved cane. He was the one with the scary eyes. Rather than showing surprise or frustration at the loss of his illusion, he was amused and smiling. This man was certainly a Foolamancer.

 

All around the room units began to appear from thin air. Knights of the SDE, Wildmen, Uncroaked, even golem, frogs, and daemon blinked into existence from nothing. The window of the atrium filled with Nevermores, all pecking and clawing at the glass.

 

Edelbert knew he had little chance of resisting the direct misdirection of a Fool but that did not make him helpless. His golem were not immune, but they were resistant to tricks of the eyes. The stony defenders needed to last. So he cast to regenerate his units. “Humpty Dumpty”

 

A piercing shriek filled the ears and then mind of the Dirtamancer. He could no longer hear anything occurring around him. The sound was so intense and overwhelming that it was very nearly painful.

 

Knowing that he was under the effects of Foolamancy granted him a bonus on his resistance checks. As he focused on the units appearing around him they would fade or become see through and then evaporate away. It wasn’t enough though. New enemies were appearing two or three for every one Edelbert could dispel.

 

With no idea who to target, Spore decided to go AoE. “Lee Jones Robinson”. An even layer of three inch stone barbs sprang up from the stone floor of the atrium. Any non-flier attempting to move in the room would take hazard damage, except Edelbert in his Rockhoppers.

 

One of the Silent Knights pivoted suddenly toward the Chief Caster and awkwardly threw his sword in a clumsy arch. Dodging the blade was simple, barely even requiring a defense roll. It flew up over Edelbert’s head and clattered against the window behind him.

 

His golem were rapidly losing and he was no longer in any condition to fight. Escape was his only option.

 

Suddenly the many phantom units were gone. A mixed group of enemy knights were in the last rounds of ending Edelbert’s own stacks. The Fool in the bowler stood serenely, with his eyes locked on the Dirtamancer.

 

“My name is Hyde and you will be coming with me.” The enemy caster walked slowly forward, apparently oblivious to the spikes which lined the ground. “I must admit that I am disappointed in how easy this was. I expected a much more entertaining fight from the legendary Sir Edelbert Spore. Pity.”

 

Edelbert was not interested in exchanging quips with this man. He needed a quick escape and Dirtamancy had always served him well. “Slip’n’sli..gha ack heeee”

 

A long thick serpent had snuck up from behind and struck. It latched it’s fangs into Edelberts throat. He could feel the poison flow into his body and was unable to speak, so he could not cast to neutralize the poison. He stumbled and fell to one knee, but that caused him a Hit on his own spikes.

 

Somehow Hyde was right on top of him, looking down as the Dirtamancer sank away from consciousness. “I told you. Pathetic.”

 

The last thing Edelbert saw was Hyde spitting in his face with disdain.

 

****

 

Excerpts from the Daemondex By Findamancer Red Ketchup

 

-# 55 – Mudcrab (basic) – These swamp native daemon are highly formidable for a basic type. Their thick armor and Heavy stats make them difficult to bring down. Adding natural Dirtamancy only contributes to their challenge.



These beasts are very slow, making them difficult to deploy against distant enemies. On the other hand, their Dirt abilities are highly effective when used as Siege. Pit traps and glue traps are two common examples of Mudcrab work.



-# 56 – Muddlecrab (advanced) – Very little statistical change occurs during the Change from Mud to Muddle. This by no means indicates a weak unit. These earthen crustaceans gain potent Foolamancy abilities. As they level up they gain large boosts to their Juice pool, giving them a great deal of flexibility with how and when they use their abilities.

 

One major drawback of these daemon is their limited intelligence. No Muds or Muddles have Language. Their creativity is lacking, which leaves them less than effective with their Foolamancy. However, a single Muddlecrab under clear orders can be quite misleading indeed.

 

 


Additions to the Daemondex of Red Ketchup
By Edelbert Spore

 

-# 160 – Nevermore (basic) – These raven like daemon are known for their dogged stubbornness. It has been joked that ‘never’ in their name stands for never backs down or never gives up. These infantry level fliers are quite useful as air support as well as making durable scouts.

 

The ‘more’ refers to the the basic Dittomancy these avian fiends gain as they level. Unlike Twobat, they are unable to duplicate themselves or any other object. They can however Ditto their stats for short periods. This means that by boosting the right stat for a given engagement can make them highly powerful units, especially when grouped. Raise Move for scouting excursions or Attack for a direct assault. When their Defense is up they are quite difficult to strike and boosted Hits can make them rather resilient. A creative warlord can use these skills to great advantage.

 

-# 161- Nevermind (intermediate) – After Changing these birds gain no new stats or size. Instead a potent Thinkamancy is gained. Relaying messages and scout reports are obvious uses of these skills. Psy-ops are viable by stealing plans and information directly from the minds of opponents. Any creative use for Thinkamancy one could devise is applicable to the Neverminds. The usefulness of these units is primarily limited by their Juice.

 

-# 162- Nevernever (advanced) – Heavy is obtained upon Changing. Along with the size increase comes a significant stat boost and a fierce gust move. The combined abilities of the three forms make for a dominant aerial unit. They are excellent mounts and are skilled leaders amongst their own kind. Despite lacking any commander specials, a Nevernever can often be found directing flocks of its smaller brethren.

 

****

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Comments

    • Salvage

      Hi everybody. I got a new iPad and am working on figuring this thing out. Sorry for the format indescrepencies. I will get them fixed. 

      Thanks for reading.

      • falcore51

        Salvage you have made my weekend.  Thanks for posting.

        • Bandaid

          Well crap. Edelbert should have encased himself in a stone wall and then fill the rest of the room with some kind of Dirtamancy hazard. Also, if the Mushroomish Kingdom suspected foolamancy in play they should have gotten more scouts and place them next to their warlords and casters for better dispelling chances.

          • Nessie13

            Poor Edelbert, fooled again.