Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 012

Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 012

"Well, how many times are we going to say that, Fritz?" Tommy asked in exasperation. "We both say 'it seems too good to be true' and 'I smell a trap,' and yet we just keep marching forward, same as we planned."

"I know." The big red warlord had his hands on his hips, scowling up the road as camp was being broken. A light snow was falling, and the fir trees beside the road whispered in the wind.

"So what do you want to do, Fritz? Tell me."

Wanda watched the big warlord take a few aimless steps into the snow of the road, stop, run his hand through his short red hair, and blow out his cheeks. Fritz had been pacing and stomping around, all through Haffaton's turn. For the second day in a row, their pace toward Kiloton remained unchallenged. Now their entire force was a single turn from the target, their scouts still reported no major forces ahead, and saw no defenders on the great city's walls. Haffaton's turn had just ended without an attack on any Goodminton target, anywhere.

Fritz looked up at Tommy and braided his single red eyebrow helplessly. "I...want to win!" he exclaimed.

Tommy laughed. "Well get on your bronto, then! D'be a fine thing if we turned around now, just because we weren't attacked. Who wins a battle that way?" He laughed again.

"With peace?" said Wanda quietly, "Perhaps a Hippiemancer."

Wanda had not told him what Delphie had Predicted about her serving under Olive Branch. She was too afraid he or Father might change their minds about trading her for a treaty, if they knew. But he did know that Haffaton had made their peace offer via a high-level Florist.

Tommy looked at her seriously. "You think she's in the field? What can she do?"

Wanda shrugged. "Outside of Croakamancy, there is...a lot I don't know. I've never studied in the Magic Kingdom. I think... I think they mainly keep units from being able to engage."

"Yes, but how many units? Could they stop us all? Or just stop the leadership? And would our bonuses still apply in the hex if they did that?"

Fritz stepped closer to them. "D'you think that's what they're counting on to defend Kiloton?"

Wanda shook her head. "I don't know. I don't think Hippiemancers are that powerful, but...maybe."

"There's a lot we don't know," said Tommy. "We don't know if they have any other casters, either. We don't know what kind of thing they might be planning to spring on us.

"Or," added Tommy brightly, "maybe they're just in trouble on their other front and we caught them at a weak moment. But we've decided to fight this enemy. We can't get spooked at what might yet be simple good fortune. Let's carry on."

 

---

Kiloton was all but deserted. The outer gates were shut, but no defenders stood on high to shoot down at them or otherwise hinder their efforts to dig into the city. From what they could see of the Garrison zone, Haffaton's colors flew from a banner atop a black onion dome that was frosted with snow.

Chief Tommy ordered the walls breached, and that was done with ease.

Within, the streets and buildings of the enemy citadel were similarly deserted. Row upon row of buildings made of granite blocks, adorned with black marble at the eaves and corners, stared blankly at their intrusion. But they did get their first glimpse of enemy units at last. Small figures were manning some of the towers and parapets of the Garrison. Not an impressive force, by any means.

"That a warlord in the tower?" pointed Fritz. A tiny head wearing a fur cap over long golden hair looked over the railing of the highest tower. It was surely feminine, and carrying something like a heavy crossbow.

"Caster, maybe," squinted Tommy.

Wanda looked up at the figure and shivered, but added nothing.

"We've gone this far," said the Chief Warlord, with a dubious tone. "Let's advance the siege towers and move everybody in here."

The archers upon the enemy parapets watched them approach in silence, their bowstrings slack. Goodminton's three hundred infantry, three siege towers, four warlords, twenty-two heavies and one caster advanced on the enemy stronghold. The towers were wheeled to the great wooden doors of the Garrison, with diggers at the ready.

Men and beasts stood unnaturally still, and within the city there was not even the sound of wind. Tommy looked at Wanda, then at Fritz, and turned to give the order to attack.

Then music.

He looked up. They all did.

The figure in the tower was employing the apparatus they all had assumed was a weapon, but in fact it was a stringed instrument. She plucked and strummed upon it, and even from so far away, they could hear it perfectly. The music took an otherworldly, magical route to their ears.

"This is the trap," Fritz stated with certainty. He was leading his own stack just to the left of where Wanda and Tommy stood with the strongest of the uncroaked units. More of the Fellows stood nearby, in reserve.

"Attack! Siege, dig in!" shouted Tommy. The diggers followed the order at once, but most of them swung their axes and shovels upon empty space.

For the Garrison doors were opening, pulled inward from behind. The portcullis was drawn up.

On the other side of the archway, a force of infantry and warlords at least equal to their own stood assembled in formation in the courtyard. Their weapons were not drawn.

They were all, to the last man, smiling.

The music played, trickling down from above. Intermingled with the notes of the strange instrument, a sweet voice, high and feminine, sang:

 

You're marchin' off to war - man you don't wanna go,
You ask your Chief "Please?" but he still says "No!"
You missed two battles and broke the One Rule.
And your warlord leads the army like you're some kinda tool!

 

Wanda saw fear in her brother's eyes, as he struggled to speak. He was trying to give an attack order, but she somehow did not realize this until he physically charged into the courtyard himself. She and her uncroaked followed close behind.

The enemy did not move. Tommy raised his sword, charging into the Haffaton ranks. The Fellows raised their weapons as well.

Tommy's sword came down upon his target like a feather. He merely tapped the shoulder of the soldier with the flat of his blade, as if knighting him. Wanda's units similarly failed to engage the enemy. Tommy's eyes were wide. More Goodminton units crushed in behind them, trying to meet the enemy and failing.

Wanda stepped up to a smiling infantryman and looked him in the eye. She was armed with a quarterstaff which gave her a very small spell bonus. She had spent all too little time training with it as a melee weapon, but she swung it at the enemy unit regardless.

As if in a dream, she could not swing it with any significant force. The staff moved as if she were trying to stir honey with it.

For a few more moments, futile attempts to engage the enemy continued. The enemy stood in ranks and watched them with amusement, while the music played from above.

Finally, a Haffaton warlord stepped forward to face Tommy. He was grinning.

"No combat is possible in this city," he said, as if telling a funny joke. "Dame Branch has played her chillaxe." He pointed up at the tower, where the smiling blond woman was strumming and singing. Tommy looked dumbfounded. "But...we do have lots of wine. Shall we parley?"

 

You gotta fight!
For your right!
To paaaarley!

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Recent posts... (See full thread)
Housellama wrote:
Erfworld isn't a game. It looks like a game, it smells like a game, it even acts like a game, but it isn't a game. That makes a HUGE difference here. These aren't pieces, they are people. This isn't a set of rules, it's the way their world works. These are real people with real connections and emotions that experience real pain. That changes things considerably.

On the other hand, the game-like laws of Erfworld makes for an amusing juxtaposition to the real world. It's a most effective form of parody, both of our world an its own.

An amusing example of this is how money is an abstraction in the real world that gets taken very seriously. It's one of those fundamental cultural assumptions. Erfworlders have the same assumptions but for entirely different reasons -- money itself is actually a reagent for physical processes. It's doubly amusing because there's an update that shows that Erfworlders have nonetheless invented money (of sorts), as shown in the Jetstonian soldiers.

I loved update where Trammenis was getting existential in the face of his impending doom. The idea that there's philosophical Scorism and at least one character capable of understanding Epicurus's Problem of Evil makes me delighted. The idea that divine agencies "keep track" of our deeds is silly and absurd.
Housellama wrote:
We don't know BOOP. You guys can say anything you want, but when it comes down to what we can actually confirm, we can't confirm ANYTHING, because we have nothing to confirm it WITH. We got NOTHING, folks. Absolutely no hard, conclusive evidence of ANY kind about Predictamancy. Nada. Nuttin. Zilch. Zip. Zero. Until we do, anything we say about Predictamancy is speculation. The only question is how wild is it. Anyone who says otherwise had better be able to point to some SOLID factual evidence in the story that will stand up to scrutiny. And if anyone can find some thus far, you are a better man or woman than I.

Well, we do know that Marie Predicted to Wanda that she would attune to an Arkentool, which came to pass. We know that Marie Predicted to Banhammer that his Kingdom would fall, which came to pass. It is a reasonable to assume that Wanda's experiences with Predictamancer have been accurate, given her current fatalism. So, we do know that Predictamancer works. We don't, however, know how it works or the line between prediction and manipulation.

Whispri wrote:
The 'loveless' statement is obvious nonsense considering her relationship with Jillian, Janis just doesn't know Wanda as well as she thinks she does.

I could see an argument made either way. Perhaps Wanda loves Jillian. Perhaps Wanda is incapable of love. If Rob came here and said that Wanda is too emotionally stunted and scarred to actually love, I would have no problem believing it. All we can say for certain is that Wanda is incredibly possessive of Jillian. That does not necessarily equate love. Wanda is possessive of her decrypted, but she also holds them in contempt and values them little or not at all. So, I can see Jillian simply as Wanda's favorite toy.
Mrtyuh wrote:
Housellama wrote:
We don't know BOOP. You guys can say anything you want, but when it comes down to what we can actually confirm, we can't confirm ANYTHING, because we have nothing to confirm it WITH. We got NOTHING, folks. Absolutely no hard, conclusive evidence of ANY kind about Predictamancy. Nada. Nuttin. Zilch. Zip. Zero. Until we do, anything we say about Predictamancy is speculation. The only question is how wild is it. Anyone who says otherwise had better be able to point to some SOLID factual evidence in the story that will stand up to scrutiny. And if anyone can find some thus far, you are a better man or woman than I.


Well, we do know that Marie Predicted to Wanda that she would attune to an Arkentool, which came to pass. We know that Marie Predicted to Banhammer that his Kingdom would fall, which came to pass. It is a reasonable to assume that Wanda's experiences with Predictamancer have been accurate, given her current fatalism. So, we do know that Predictamancer works. We don't, however, know how it works or the line between prediction and manipulation.


I don't mean to offend, but we don't. We have hearsay. We know that people have said these things have happened. We have no way of actually confirming that it was actually capital P Predicted. Just because it came true doesn't make it a capital P Prediction. It could have been a really good guess. Now odds are it was a capital P Prediction, but we cannot prove it. There's a considerable distinction there.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Predictamancy doesn't work. I firmly believe it does. But as far as solid proof of what has and hasn't been Predicted, we have no solid evidence of anything. We have hearsay and words from unreliable narrators.
Well, let's put it this way. Wanda had been told that she'd attune. The prior probability of this was... mighty low, right? If that wasn't a capital-P prediction, it was a fantastically stupid lower-case p prediction.
drachefly wrote:
Well, let's put it this way. Wanda had been told that she'd attune. The prior probability of this was... mighty low, right? If that wasn't a capital-P prediction, it was a fantastically stupid lower-case p prediction.


There are 100 marbles in a bag, 99 black and 1 white. I reach into the bag and pull out a marble and don't show it to you. I tell you it's black. Do you believe me? Probably. Can you prove the marble is black right now without any further information? No. Not without more information.

The difference between 99.9% and 100% is a very large amount. Yes. Odds are extremely high it was a Capital P prediction. But we can't prove it. Not based on what we have right now. That's all I'm saying.
I'm not sure that's a valid analogy. You're using prior probability instead of posterior probability. It's more like,

There are 10^6 marbles in a bag, and 4 of them are white, the others are black. This is known to be true.
I have built up a reputation for making accurate predictions. Whether there is something to this is the notion to be tested. Note that in this context, such a claim is plausible.
I tell you, you're going to draw a white marble.
You do.
What's the posterior probability that I have a clue what I'm doing?

Now... proof? Well, evidence doesn't yield proof, except that certain hypotheses are false. It shifts the weight of credence.

Based just on the prediction of Wanda attuning an arkentool and the absence of thousands of equal failed predictions, the overwhelming weight of credence is on the notion that predictamancers are not entirely full of it. Entertaining the contrary notion has a massive explanatory power problem. And that's before we get to story logic.
drachefly wrote:
I'm not sure that's a valid analogy. You're using prior probability instead of posterior probability. It's more like,

There are 10^6 marbles in a bag, and 4 of them are white, the others are black. This is known to be true.
I have built up a reputation for making accurate predictions. Whether there is something to this is the notion to be tested. Note that in this context, such a claim is plausible.
I tell you, you're going to draw a white marble.
You do.
What's the posterior probability that I have a clue what I'm doing?

Now... proof? Well, evidence doesn't yield proof, except that certain hypotheses are false. It shifts the weight of credence.

Based just on the prediction of Wanda attuning an arkentool and the absence of thousands of equal failed predictions, the overwhelming weight of credence is on the notion that predictamancers are not entirely full of it. Entertaining the contrary notion has a massive explanatory power problem. And that's before we get to story logic.


Again, not what I'm saying. I believe that Predictamancy works. It's incredibly likely that was a Prediction (and for the record, I believe it was a Prediction). But we, the readers, can't prove it was based on the information given. We can make some very, very strong inferences, but inferences do not equal proof. I'm not talking about the Prediction itself. I'm talking about whether or not we can verify that the prediction was a Prediction.
Housellama wrote:
But we, the readers, can't prove it was based on the information given. We can make some very, very strong inferences, but inferences do not equal proof.


In practice - unless you're a mathematician working with axioms where formal proof is possible - the two are equivalent for all practical purposes, and colloquially 'prove' means the same thing as 'provide extremely strong evidence for'. Is there a particular reason you're splitting hairs here?

I mean, what can we "prove" about the comic, if you're being that strict? Nothing that's ever based on what any character says or does or remembers, since they could be lying? I just don't see why you would ever apply a mathematical definition of 'proof' to a webcomic, as opposed to a more common one. (In common parlance, "innocent until proven guilty" does NOT mean a mathematically rigorous proof!)
Housellama wrote:
I'm talking about whether or not we can verify that the prediction was a Prediction.


... I covered that in the earlier post. If it wasn't a Prediction, is was a mind-bogglingly, seriously amazingly stupid prediction. Stepping outside the story for a moment, the only way it's not a Prediction is if the whole point of this book series is to pull a gotcha at the last moment.

SOME predictions I can easily believe, like telling Janis they're going through with Parson. She needs that one to be true, and it's reasonably self-fulfilling. Wanda attuning? Not at all. Even if Wanda set on a quest to obtain an arkentool - which she easily could - and succeeded - tougher, but doable - then she could easily not attune. And then, the predictamancer's booped. They would probably not be too happy to hear 'well, maybe you attune to one of the others?'

Sticking her neck on the line like that without something really solid to back it up, for no good reason? As I said, mind-bogglingly, seriously amazingly stupid.
Well what you can prove is a kind of internal consistency to the logic and rules of operation in the setting. Being that this is a story, some things you're supposed to accept as true at face-value. If you don't, there is no suspension of disbelief.

As such we can at least accept the mathematical or purely logical form of proof as tenable, since we all implicitly understand that some premises and assumptions are simply given to the audience.

Mrtyuh wrote:
ParsonIsOP wrote:
Two. This isn't a large sample size.

And Doctor House will tell you that people always lie. Corollary: Lying isn't necessarily evil or malicious.

Also, Janis isn't lying about anything important. The audience already knows that Janis thinks that Parson is Erfworld's best chance for peace. It's not such a stretch to see why she might support Parson. And insofar as her opposition goes, it only goes against the Thinkamancers trying to claim custody of Parson. This isn't an argument about whether Parson belongs in MK, but a power play.

Assuming Janis isn't actually Predicting, she could just very well be predicting. Any canny observer could guess at what Janis might do in this situation.

As for manipulation, Marie is making Janis do what Janis wants to do? Ummm. Whatever. That horse isn't going anywhere.

*sigh* Now I remember why I hardly ever post here.

I wasn't making a point about the nature of Predictamancers, I was making a point about how we, the readers, don't know how Predictamancy works because the Predictamancers are unreliable narrators.

Yes, two is, scientifically speaking, the worst possible sample, because, in case of divergence, there is no way to know which is right. Still, we know that the Predictamancers, as a grou,p have manipulated the Thinkamancers, as a group, since the Thinkamancers only think they know what is going on. We also do not know the Predictamancers' agenda. Just as they've manipulated the Thinkamancers, it is possible they've lied to Janis and the Florists about their aims.

I never claimed lying was malicious. It is always manipulative. Even if it is a child telling their mother that they took the trash out when they really haven't so they don't get yelled at. It is manipulative.

Marie is the Predictamancer. Janis is a Hippiemancer. Janis is a pacifist. Janis doesn't want to attack anyone. Marie is telling Janis that Marie has Predicted that Janis will stack with Parson and attack the Thinkamancers if necessary. Doing so would be very against Janis's nature. Marie telling Janis that, whether it is manipulative.

Also, my point at the time was, once again, we do not know what is an actual Prediction, and what is pure manipulation. We have seen both known Predictamancers end sentences with, "this I Predict." We, the readers, have no way of knowing if these are actual Predictions or merely rhetorical devices used by Predictamancers to get others to do what they think they should. We do not know what it looks like when a Predictamancer casts. It is probably alot more subtle than many casters, but we know there is a spark when a Luckamancer casts, so I think we should see something. What we do know is that Marie did not know that Parson was coming to the Magic Kingdom, although Predictamancers did know something was going to happen there. Unless she is making Predictions as we watch, which I'll admit is possible, there is no way she could have Predicted Janis stacking with Parson, since didn't Predict he would come. That would make her statement to Janis rhetorical.

Of course, what do I know.

Late response is late, but my point is that Marie isn't especially manipulative from what I've seen. She doesn't come across as a control freak the way Wanda or Delphie does. She doesn't have the psychological need for it. One lie does not make a habitual liar. One theft does not make a habitual thief. Even if I grant your premise, two Predictamancers with a taste for subterfuge does not a Predictamancer conspiracy make.

Is what Marie is doing manipulative? Yes. But not uncommonly so. She's involving herself in Magic Kingdom politics the same way that the Thinkamancers are doing. It doesn't imply that they're all especially manipulative individuals, it implies that they're political animals. Again she's nudging Janis into doing something that she wants to do anyway.

Marie's not lying either. What motive does she possibly have to lie about it? She doesn't need to in order to get Janis to do what she wants. Janis isn't persuaded by her Prediction but by being reminded of her own priorities. Janis isn't bogged-down by the same existential crisis about Fate that Wanda is, so even if she were lying, it wouldn't work particularly well here.

And by the by, Janis isn't a strict pacifist. And it's isn't contrary to the "Hippie" theme, since counterculture is supposed to be in conflict with authority or the status-quo. She's raging against the machine in a war to end all war.