Part 1

Part 14

 

Other people might enjoy riding on a dwagon, not me though. I had a too vivid imagination for that. I could vividly imagine what would happen if I fell from this height. While one could survive a free fall on Earth, like American Staff Sargent Alan Magee who, after a fall from about 6700 meters managed to crash trough a glass ceiling of a train station which slowed his fall enough so that the second impact on the train station’s floor did not kill him, one needed staggering amounts of luck to have something break one’s fall or a really soft landing area, preferably both. The road below me looked rather hard so that was not very confidence inspiring, also there was nothing in sight which could have broken my fall in case that became necessary. To make matters worse; this was not Earth but Erf, where you were not killed by the impact but by natural Shockmancy instead. Therefore, even if my Stupidworlder body should survive a theoretical impact I might get an additional helping of damage sponsored by Erfworld’s natural laws. I should be protected by Fate/Predictions/GMTTA’s Fate golems but for some reason I was unwilling to test that theory.  In the future I planned to acquire a couple of magic items, a magic jetpack like Ace Hardware made for Prince Tramennis, a crash helmet like Prince Ansom possessed and perhaps a non-magical parachute as a backup. For now I had to do without however. I suppose I could have used a spidew instead, turning one before my turn started should have been not that much of a problem but that would have been yet more juice for the Turnamancers to spend which would have cost me even more Shmuckers and I had had other priorities for them. Simply walking myself had been out of the question, I did not know my own move value after all and unless it was significantly higher than average for a non-flying warlord it would not have been enough for getting to the Column and then returning to my capital. I would have to test my move stat some time but for now dwagon riding was the only way.

 

Another major factor had been that I wanted to make an impression on the assembled leadership of the RCC and dwagons were simply much better for that. Speaking of impressions, I was really grateful when the first units of the Royal Crown Coalition came into sight since that meant that I would have solid ground under my feet soon. However that also meant that I would have to really pull myself together. Showing discomfort to my own units would be bad enough but showing uneasiness to my enemies was simply out of the question. Thankfully I had practiced landing and dismounting a dwagon the last two turns; otherwise I would have almost been guaranteed to make a fool out of myself.

As expected, our arrival caused quite a stir in the Royal Crown Coalition’s column; more than three dozen dwagons heading for your hex will do that. After performing a fly by with all my dwagons I ordered most of them to the opposite end of the hex while Maggie, Misty, Jack, Wanda and I landed our dwagons at the hex border. I signaled for parley and waited for the response of the Royal Crown Coalition while sending our mounts to join up with the rest of their brethren. While I and my units were safe from the RCC at the moment since they had no move and therefor the hex barrier would protect us and block all ranged attacks from the Royal Crown Coalition that was not true in reverse. The RCC would have to worry about the possibility of a surprise attack from my side which would not be helpful for negotiations. With the dwagons at the other end of the hex they would have time to get ready. Not they were not ready at the moment, once my units were sighted they had started to restack for anti-air defense, every warlord was either stacked with archers or on a mount leading a stack of flying units. The two exceptions where of course Vinny who was flying under his own power and Prince Ansom with his magic flying carpet. 

Once it became clear to them that no attack was imminent Prince Ansom accepted my offer of parley and one warlord from each of the Royal Crown Coalition sides assembled near the hex border with numerous stacks of units led by the remaining warlords just far enough away to make it not totally obvious that they were ready to rush in and help their superiors in case I broke parley. I wondered if that was a precaution Prince Ansom would have made against all potential opponents or just against me. Perhaps he would not have if I had been a royal. The fact that I formerly belonged to Stanley’s side and was associated with him probably did not help to raise my status. Oh well, there was no way to change any of those facts, I would just have to do my best to overcome the various trust issues. Though the looks I received from the assembled warlords were not exactly encouraging…

After everyone was ready I addressed Prince Ansom and the assembled dignitaries: “Warlords of the Royal Crown Coalition please allow me to reintroduce myself, I am Overlord Sebastian Hund, Ruler of SC, a freshly formed side.”

“Formed by betraying Lord Stanley” Prince Ansom stated.

“Oh, now it is Lord Stanley? I thought you usually referred to him as Stanley the Worm or simply Stanley at best?” I queried.

“Be that as it may, that does not change the fact that you rebelled against your rightful ruler.”

“Well from your point of view it might look that way but there were a lot of mitigating circumstances like...”

“There can be no mitigating circumstances for rising up in revolt!” interrupted Prince Ansom.

“Unless you win!” I responded.

There was a short pause then Vinny snickered. “Heh, yeah that be a pretty good mitigating circumstance.” he opinionated.

With a stony face Prince Ansom replied: “Not in front of the Titans.”

“Well, then I am glad that I do not exactly fall under their jurisdiction. They did not pop me after all.”

“I beg your pardon.”

“I am sorry; obviously the news did not reach you yet. I was in fact summoned from a world quite different from Erf using a combination of Predictamancy, Thinkamancy, Lookamancy and Findamancy.” I raised a hand to stop Prince Ansom from interrupting.

“I realize that this sounds rather unbelievable to anyone not in the know and therefore have arranged for the casters which were involved in the summoning, namely the Great Minds which Think Alike, to directly testify to your rulers. I have been told at least one of them has often been hired by Queen Bea of Unaroyal, namely one Headmaster Roger Victor Clarence?”  As I said the last in a slightly unsure tone I looked at Warlady Sylvia Lazarus. Being from Unaroyal she should be aware of Roger Clarence’s relationship with her side.

Following my gaze Prince Ansom saw her nodding.

“Headmaster Roger Victor Clarence is a regular guest at our capital, that much is true your Highness.” She told Prince Ansom.

“Great. Now you most likely want to get word back from your rulers. Before you do that I would like to present two further pieces of evidence which I would ask you to pass along to your respective rulers. While we wait for their responses we should discuss the current strategic situation. I hope I can convince you and your allied warlords that a new treaty is in the best interest of all our sides. My minimum goal would be a short nonaggression pact between our sides to buy time for proper negotiations.”

“I do not see the need for such an agreement at the moment Overlord Hund”. Prince Ansom replied.

“Yes, I figured. However I would like to point out that my side and the Royal Crown Coalition are currently at peace. And while I do not know how much authority your King has given you in such matters it is usually left to the rulers to declare wars while the Chief Warlords wage them. You might have the authority to declare war in the name of Jetstone, Prince Ansom, though I would be surprised if the same was true for declaring war in the name of the whole Royal Crown Coalition, which was assembled for the goal of taking down Gobwin Knob under its former Overlord Stanley and not for a joint attack against SC.” The stone faced expression on Prince Ansom told me I had him there.

“Therefore I would like to negotiate with your father and the other Kings and Queens, preferably under less time constrained conditions.”

“Time constrained conditions?”

“Yes well, please try to see things from my perspective. There is this big coalition army a few turns away from my capital whose current intentions are probably not to hold a parade to celebrate my attainment of Overlordship over SC. Therefore, from a strategic point of view, I should start doing something about your army before it can lay siege to my capital, preferably on this turn, where my units have almost full move and you have no chance to rearrange your forces. Since I do not wish for war this would a very suboptimal development. However, if I do not strike on this turn and we do not reach an agreement you can move your forces even closer to my capital.”

“While you could certainly attack us here and may cause some damage to our forces you simply stand no chance against the combined might of the Royal Crown Coalition. You yourself acknowledged this the last time we talked.” Prince Ansom rebutted.

“I distinctly remember saying in any conventional scenario. Therefore I came up with a couple of unconventional ones. However before we argue about how a theoretical engagement between our forces would go I would really like to present my evidence about being from another world because if you think I am lying about that you will be disinclined to believe anything else I say.”

“Fine, you may present your evidence”.

“Thank you. First I would ask all present warlords and warladies to take a real close look at me. If you do you might notice that you cannot see me stats.”

After some time had passed and the assembled commanders had stopped staring at me and giving little headshakes to each other Prince Ansom spoke up again.

“Hiding one’s stats can be achieved through means of magic, especially since you are in a different hex, it is hardly proof of Extraerfian origin.” He said in a dismissive tone.

“Well maybe but that many warlords, including very high level ones, all failing their spot checks? Doubtful. Anyway let us get to the second piece of evidence.” With that I gave myself a small cut with a knife I had brought along for that purpose.  I was bleeding way too much lately but if it helped in avoiding a greater bloodshed… never mind that I was the only being capable of bleeding on Erf right now to the best of my knowledge.

After I judged the amount of blood on the knife sufficient I carefully tossed it handle first on the ground before Vinny, making sure not to hit him.

“Ever seen a unit that bleeds?” I asked.

Vinny seemed a bit unsure but took the knife after a moment. He gave the blood on it a curious sniff.

“Does smell like blood.” He looked in my direction.

“It is blood. Taste it if you are still unsure. With your Transylvitian drain life special you are our resident expert on the subject after all.”

Vinny looked to Prince Ansom who nodded slightly. One lick later he exclaimed:”Huh, tastes like blood too. It is blood. Liquid blood. Never saw that, or even hea’d of that before.” He gave me a curious glance and then looked to Prince Ansom again who had gained a bit of wondering expression. I looked at him expectedly.

“I concede that I also never have heard of … liquid blood.” Prince Ansom said in a reluctant tone.

“Then perhaps you would be willing to pass these pieces of evidence to your capital Prince Ansom? While you are at it you might confirm the truth about my other statements. The testimony of the Great Minds that Think Alike should hopefully have arrived by now.”

“Very well, I shall pass on your evidence and ask for a copy of the alleged testimony.”

“Thank you Prince Ansom. When you are finished with that I would like to discuss the strategic situation between our sides with you and your fellow warlords in the Royal Crown Coalition.”

With a short nod Prince Ansom left the hex border. The other warlords looked like they were about to follow him.

“Ah, while Prince Ansom is busy whoever does not also have to call his capital might want to get a head start on reading this.” I opened my dwagons saddlebag, grabbed a bunch of file folders and tossed them through the hex barrier. “It is a battle plan I came up with when then Overlord Stanley demanded I should deal with this column. There should be enough copies for everyone.”

It was a scaled down version of the “Max stacks of Dwagons, with Artifact and Warlord leadership plus Chief Warlord leadership, including some magic scrolls of healing followed up by mass uncroaking corpses and undead dancefighting plan”. I had left out the hire more casters, especially healomancers to heal up the dwagons and attack multiple times in one turn part. No reason to show all of my cards and give people ideas, plus this should be enough to make them realize that their “invincible” column was far from invincible.

I saw it working as multiple warlords including Vinny read the dossiers and conferred with each other. Their expressions were not happy. When Prince Ansom returned Vinny showed him one of the files and they began talking. Prince Ansom was also not getting happier. I could not be sure of course but I assumed he was reevaluating my perceived abilities and the expected trouble I would give the Royal Crown Coalition. Hopefully he would finally take me seriously. Things might get unpleasant otherwise.

 

 

Prince Ansom was not having a good turn. He had had a clear picture of how the next few turns would go. He would lead the Royal Crown Coalition’s forces to Gobwin Knob, siege the city, croak Stanley, preferably personally though that part was optional, and retrieve the holy Arkenhammer. If the Titans favored him he might even attune to it. Then by now Overlord Sebastian Hund had happened. Apparently, along with a lot magic he had not known was even possible. A part of him still wanted to dismiss the whole matter as a ridiculous bluff or diversion maneuver. However he could not, as the evidence was staggering. No stats visible, liquid blood, testimony from over a dozen casters under pinky swear including one of a Roger Victor Clarence, a good friend of Queen Bea as attested by herself. If it all was some sort of misdirection then it would show a level of influence among casters which could only spell harsh times for the Royal Crown Coalition. No it had to be the truth, hard to fathom as it was.  If the possibility of summoning units from… somewhere else, disturbing enough as it was, had been the only revelation this turn that would have been one thing.

However there had been more revelations, all of them bad for Jetstone and her allies. Some of them revealed personal failure on his part which was unacceptable. He had committed the sin of complacency. Stanley’s warlords had been far from the performance expected from the lowest Jetstone warlord and the strategic ability of Stanley himself could at best serve as an object lesson on what not to do in war. Stanley’s display was positively disgraceful, especially given all the assets he had had. And here began his personal failings. He had neither anticipated a Lookamancer on Stanley’s side nor correctly assessed the threat level of Stanley’s dwagons since Stanley had clearly squandered both. Overlord Hund was clearly cut from a different cloth.

The battle plan presented by him would have caused a catastrophic amount of damage. The number of units lost, both from Jetstone and her allies, would have been staggering. Worst of all, he would have had to personally fight units formerly under his command after they would have been turned into uncroaked abominations. He felt bile in his mouth. With the Arkenpliers and their ability to turn uncroaked to dust he had no doubt that he would have been able to contain that threat on the ground. However that would have meant that he would not have been able to take part in the expected air battle against Stanley and his dwagons. With Jillian captured that would have meant that the two highest level warlords would have been sorely missed in that engagement. He was reasonably certain that the superior leadership and fighting spirit of his forces would still have carried the day but it would have been at least possible that Gobwin Knob might have wiped out the whole of the Royal Crown Coalition’s forces. And even in the best case scenario the unled units he had left vulnerable would have been wiped out. The bile kept rising again. He would have to correct these personal failures as soon as possible. Unfortunately there was very little he could do right now on the military side as none of his units had move. This hex was already restacked for maximum anti air with a special rearguard to deal with potential uncroaked coming from the column but that was all what he could order.

The good news was that with Stanley out of the picture Overlord Hund’s plan was missing two key components, namely a very high level warlord and the Arkenhammer. This meant that the front hex of the column was safe. The unled units in all the other hexes where still hideously vulnerable though. Also, Overlord Hund had added a note that if he was forced to attack he would simply ignore the front hex and fly his units back to the safety of his capital where they could heal and await the attack of the drastically reduced Royal Crown Coalition’s forces. Attacking them before they could heal was not an option as the ground forces could not reach the city in a single turn. Taking only the flying forces to attack the city was also ill advised as they would have to contend with a (according to Overlord Hund at least) fully spelled up tower under the direction of a Shockmancer and all the archery capable units SC had available in addition to the considerable might of the dwagons. In that scenario the only possibility was asking for reinforcements while putting the advance on SC on hold. However the only forces which could respond in a timely matter would be flyers from Transylvito and or Charlescomm. Hellabad, he would have to hire at least a couple of Charlies Archons to ensure that Overlord Hund did not come up with sufficient new ideas to actually croak all his units in this hex.

And speaking of Transylvito, the bad news was not finished. Apparently Overlord Hund was not ignoring the possibilities of Diplomacy and was attempting to form a coalition of Overlords and Overladies to counter the Royal Crown Coaliton. And he had picked the weakest link in the Coalition. Don King had required significant concessions to conform to his father’s goals. The forces he had provided where comparatively minor even though Vinny was a competent warlord and a good personal friend. According to his father Don King lacked sufficient zeal when it came to upholding royalty’s proper station; his heir was not even a royal. Therefore it was possible that he would strike a deal with Overlord Hund if he deemed that more profitable. Preventing that would probably mean more expenses for Jetstone. And it was not only Transylvito that was threatened. There were other sides in the vicinity. If Rightshoring acted up while a significant part of Jetstone’s might was bound elsewhere… King Dickie might be acting gauche if an opportunity presented itself…

 

Prince Ansom was not having a good turn. And as he approached the hex border again for parley he doubted that the next few turns would be much better.

Comments