Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 017

Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 017

The note read:

They ask me again? My daughter for armistice?

A good ruler would surely accept this offer, but I don't suppose I can claim that distinction.

Time and again, the Lady Temple advises that my decisions cannot affect what has been Predicted.

If this is truly so, then life is ludicrous and without meaning.

If no decision matters, then I shall make no decision.

Let the choice be made between you two.

You each have my trust and my love.

-F

---

When Tommy requested another day of negotiations in order to "wait for our Overlord's guidance," Olive did not argue.

"Your units may bunk in the east barracks, and the adjacent officers' quarters and stables," she said, rising to her feet and gathering her books. "You should count on having them use their own rations. There will be no festivities this evening."

Tommy and Wanda watched them leave the blockhouse without a further word. Larry glanced back at her as he held the door for Olive, then he walked out and left it ajar.

After a moment's thoughtful silence, Tommy whispered, "I get it."

Wanda looked at him. "What?"

"She doesn't trust Larry. She wants to turn, but she'll wait and do it on our turn, so we can turn around and attack!" Tommy's face was flushed with excitement. "She wants us in the east barracks so we can protect her. Aw, we should never have tried to turn them both. I'm an idiot."

Wanda had taken Olive's sudden coldness very much at face value, but it was hard to be sure. It would make things much nicer if what Tommy thought was true. "What if you're wrong?"

Her brother tilted his head, his smile going crooked. "Back to the original plan then, I guess. Stay here tonight, destroy her instrument if we can. Take the city tomorrow." He looked out the empty doorway. "But I bet she turns. C'mon, let's assemble in the barracks."

 

---

Fritz seemed a little more at ease in the barracks. They filled him in on the intent of staying another turn here. He was quiet, but clearly skeptical of the entire matter. Wanda wondered if he regretted staying sober through the previous evening's carousal.

"It's your war, Tommy," he shrugged. "It's not like I've any idea how to fight a Hippiemancer. Love is...well, it's no proper battlefield."

The warlords played cards through the rest of Haffaton's turn, and no news came to them via the hat or any scout observations. Another quiet turn. For the last ten days, the war had barely seemed to be a war at all.

Fritz raised the possibility that they could catch Haffaton off guard and take the city before Olive could play her instrument. "No," said Tommy. "I think she probably won't play, but that will mean she'll be here to turn. We should just be ready for the fight."

Within the barracks, then, they stayed stacked. They took up positions of readiness by the doors as Haffaton's horns sounded the end of their turn.

But at that very moment, Olive's strumming and singing rained down from the city's tower. Tommy and Wanda stood in the doorway and stared up at her tiny figure on the parapet. As with yesterday, her voice reached them from everywhere and nowhere, sweet and haunting.

 

To every thing,
Turn, turn, turn,
There is a turn,
Turn, turn, turn.
A turn to heal,
A turn to hurt,
A turn for Life,
A turn for Erf.

A turn to Croak,
A turn to Date,
A turn to Move,
A turn to wait.
A turn for Luck,
A turn for Fate,
A turn for peace,
But now, it's just too late.

 

Wanda's eyes widened at the final lyric. Wordlessly, Tommy drew his sword. He stepped out into the courtyard and swung it as hard as he could at a Haffaton soldier who was standing in the sunlight, chewing on a dried pear.

The sword stopped in midair, an inch from the man's neck. He looked up, put the rest of the fruit in his mouth, gave Tommy a quick and sarcastic salute, and wandered off.

"Had to try," Tommy called after him.

"Wha'ever," said the soldier, through a mouthful of food.

The Goodminton officers' card game eventually resumed. "What do you think her lyric meant by 'too late?'" said Wanda to the table. She was dealer this hand.

Fritz looked worried. "You're asking us?"

"I took it as a threat of some kind," said Tommy. He'd been quiet since the turn began, and slow to answer his bet. He looked at Wanda seriously. "That's why I confirmed the spell was active. But the fact that she was singing about turning... I don't know what to think at this point. "

Wanda nodded. "Bet's to you," she said.

"Check."

"Check," said Wanda. "I don't know, either. That spell uses Rhyme-o-mancy, but I don't understand it. You want cards, Mack?"

Mack Ramay, a taciturn Level 4 warlord with habitually knitted brows, took two cards from his hand and set them on the table. "Two."

Wanda dealt his cards. "Well, it's bothering me. So if it's just a threat, it's doing a good job. Cakes?"

Rex Cakes, an awkward Level 3 with a pasty face and a large gap between his teeth, took three cards.

"Do you think we should go talk to her?" asked Tommy.

Wanda shrugged. She had a feeling in her gut that Olive was moving on to something else now, and that this meant bad news for Goodminton. "I guess we could. Fritz?"

"I'm fine with these, my Lady," said Fritz.

"Really, now?" said Wanda suspiciously. "Don't spend all of Clay's boost at the poker table. Tommy?" Tommy was looking up at the ceiling. "You want cards, big brother?"

"Sh," he said, holding up the fingers of his empty hand. He put his cards on the table, face down. "Check the hat. Did the hat rumble?"

 

---

Olive and Larry came out to speak to Tommy at the fore of the Goodminton column, just inside the main gate of Kiloton. She listened coolly, as he explained that they were withdrawing from the city immediately.

"I see. And are you ready to take our offer?" she asked.

"It's still on the table," said Tommy, matching her tone. "But not this turn. We need our Croakamancer too badly right now."

Olive nodded, her face blank. "Trouble? It's not with us. Maybe it's your allies?"

Tommy's eyes narrowed. "That's not anything I'd care to share with the enemy, Olive."

In fact, the message they had received was dire. A large air armada of mounted heavies from both Quisling and Frenemy had flown into the capital's airspace and would not withdraw. They declared they would break their alliance and attack the city unless given concessions amounting to the rest of Goodminton's treasury. Lord Firebaugh was uncertain the attack could be fought off.

"We don't have to be enemies, Tommy," Olive said, her eyes softening as she stepped closer to him. "With Wanda on our side, we'd be more like family. Like a tribe."

"We had a tribe," said Tommy stiffly. "You helped wipe them out."

Olive shook her head just slightly, as if to say "history doesn't matter."

Larry stepped forward and stared at Wanda. His eyes were longing and sad. "Take the deal," was all he said.

Wanda looked at him, understanding full well that he desired her, but feeling nothing for him. Perhaps what he was feeling was some form of love. Perhaps it was something else.

Then she looked at Olive, and it was like looking into the sun. Wanda considered the possibility of staying here with her, and her heart voted in favor of the idea by knocking on her breastbone from the inside. But was that love, or something else? Was that what Larry felt when he looked at her?

And if so, perhaps Olive was just as indifferent to her.

She touched her brother's arm and looked up at him. "I'll go. If it will save us."

Tommy shook his head, and pulled away almost violently. He scowled at Olive, angry. "No. That shouldn't be necessary! Olive, you should turn! You should've...you should have."

Olive shook her head sadly. "It wouldn't help you now. You have to go, and I'm out of move." She stepped close to Tommy, and took his hand in both of hers . "But if you mean I should have loved you, I did. And I do." She looked up at him. "But I make you no promises about the future. Will you kiss me?"

They looked into one another's eyes, then he put his arms around her waist and locked her in a passionate embrace. Some of the Goodminton knights hooted, but Wanda, Larry and Fritz stared in awkward silence, as the kiss dragged on for many moments.

When they finally drew apart, Tommy looked distant and distracted. He looked at Olive only a moment longer, then shouted the booming command, "Column! March!"

 

---

The column split by destination, based upon move. Slower and siege units were sent on their way back to Hamfurter, while their fleetest units and the leadership would take a four-turn overland route straight home to the capital.

They rode hard and fast through the hills, over fields of boulders and snow. Tracks indicated there was game here, but they had no move to spare for hunting. Wanda and Uggymug stayed close beside Tommy's flank. Hunched down in the saddle, he barely spoke a word, but kept his eyes ahead and his teeth bared into the wind.

It was good to be riding with him. Even if the capital should fall and they should all disband in the field, she felt glad not to have stayed with Olive. Every time she looked at her brother she felt that they belonged together, Fate and the Titans disband.

Halfway through their journey, he read a message from his hat and called a halt.

"Leadership, to me," he said. His voice was barely a loud whisper.

The commanders huddled their mounts. Wanda could see by Tommy's grim face that something very serious was happening. "The siege group is gone," he said, his voice low and strained. Wanda watched him closely. He was in deep distress. "Haffaton was waiting for it on the road. We should watch for a second ambush. Let's get scouts ahead as we ride."

There was no second ambush, but the rest of the ride was slower and the mood more desperate. Haffaton was offering no more concessions now. Enemies are enemies. Tommy looked as pained as Wanda had ever seen him, and he said nothing more until the group had spent the move of its slowest units. At that point, he pulled up into a wind-sheltered grove of firs and ordered camp made.

Then he dismounted his brontosword, slid down its side, and collapsed into the snow.

Wanda's head snapped around. The big mount obscured her view of him. "Tommy?"

But before she could even get her boots out of the stirrups, her senses as a Croakamancer told her she would find his lifeless body upon the ground.

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Recent posts... (See full thread)
Dunbar wrote:

I'm beginning to think that no actions of any Erfworlder matters, and maybe the predictamancers are starting to see that.


Well, we know that's true here -- this whole story is a flashback, and we know that Wanda is the last of the Croatan tribe. In a sense, we're all predictamancers now, watching the current storyline unfold while aware of an inevitable endpoint. And while we can debate the reliability of Delphie's predictions, we can't really debate our own. We know how the first arc of Wanda's story ends because we know how Book One began. It's not like we're going to see a battle between Haffaton and Faq that ends with Wanda killing Jillian, Jack and Marie.
name lips wrote:
In Erfworld, everything has an underlying mechanic. Or at least it seems to.


You might as well say 'in every independently existent universe...'. Whatever happens, happens according to the rules of the universe, whatever those rules happen to be. What else could happen? Whatever it was, it was also due to the rules.
The title "Love is a battlefield" should have applied to this.
splintermute wrote:
This might all take place before Deletionism was subject to Retconjuration.


I thought "mancymancy" was the school of magic that was replaced by retconjuration? I was sad to see it go.
I've never heard of mancymancy before. Deletionism was definitely in that slot at some point.

MonteCristo wrote:

Raza wrote:

Agreed. There's no reason for anybody who didn't already consider animation gross or demeaning to start believing it when applied to a loved one - especially someone like Wanda, who explicitly considers it a thing of beauty. She has all her juice for the turn to spend on him; he'll her masterpiece for some time to come.

I doubt Uncroaked Tommy will last too long... it appears we are winding down to the end of her side. More than likely this would mean her entering combat, most of her comrades croaking and her fellows dusting and then her being captured; whatever is left disbands when the overlord falls... So at most, Wanda will use her juice to restore Tommy to near full strength so that he can get one last spectacular fight with Wanda trying to take out as many haffaton units as possible.

You don't have to keep a work around for it to be your masterpiece, but that sounds otherwise likely enough.

Probably for the better. Having uncroaked Tommy fall in combat would probably feel less like the failure of her art than watching him slowly fall apart again.
Raza wrote:
I've never heard of mancymancy before. Deletionism was definitely in that slot at some point.


Mancymancy may have been subjected to deletionism. Deletionism was subjected to retconjuration. It is hard to prove that deletionism ever occurred. We cannot link a reference to the target.
Actually we can, it's still in the archive of erfworld at giantitp.

http://www.giantitp.com/comics/erf0040.html
Looks like Rob's an adept class retcojuror, at best. =P
Huh. Did I just imagine "mancymancy"? It's possible, certainly. Maybe I misread "mathamancy" the first time through.

If I did imagine it though, I would suggest to Rob that "mancymancy" would be an awesome name for meta-magic type spells (dispel, reflect, reduce juice cost, etc).
Berserkas wrote:
Tommy dead? So this is how it ends. Unexpectedly, not in a last and epic standoff and failure against Fate and multiple enemies, with Wanda having to run to the magic kingdom as her family is torn apart by enemies, like i was hoping for. :|

One thing of note about the hippymancers: With their stalling abilities, they are as deadly/far more deadly than some other caster classes. While they prevent the main enemy forces from fighting in the name of "peace", other enemy regiments can go wild on other cities, which is exactly what's happenning. Peace my arse.

I actually expected this to happen. It seemed likely that Atomic would blow it at Kiloton and meet his end. I didn't expect such a long fuse, though. All that remains is for Wanda to be named heir and my speculation will be complete.

Most of Olive's effectiveness here comes from Tommy's poor decisions. Goodminton could have attacked Plankton and avoided the trap. Goodminton could have turned around the moment they reached Kiloton. Tommy is the one who decided to waste a turn at Kiloton and planned on wasting another. Olive could only affect one hex. Also, Haffaton, Quisling and Frenemy obviously had forces deployed elsewhere, ready to move. While I'm not saying Hippiemancers aren't powerful, I don't see them being more dangerous than other casters.

Keldaria wrote:
Hmmm, I'm thinking... Maybe goodmitton didn't have an heir delegated even tho the king effectively had a son and a daughter (kind of like how the recent prince needed to be delegated heir for jetstone even tho he was a prince). Soo my thought is that the capital fell or was being captured and the king in a last effort to save at least one of his offspring signed the ready made deal to trade wanda to the other side and spare her the fate of tommy and the rest of his kingdom. Thus fulfilling the predictamancy and ensuring the destruction of wanda's side as predicted.


Quote:
Even if the capital should fall and they should all disband in the field, she felt glad not to have stayed with Olive.

I think this proves that Tommy was not Heir-Designate. If he had been, Wanda would not have feared disbanding in the field as long as he was alive. Also, if the death had been caused by Overlord Firebaugh's death, they would have all simultaneously vanished, like at Unaroyal. Wanda wouldn't have had time to see Tommy croak and fall from his mount.

vintermann wrote:
When exactly do warlords outside cities become barbarian upon the fall of their capital? We know the Wack from Faq became barbarian as a result of it, but apparently Queen Bea's just disbanded when the same thing happened.

Either way, I don't think they just keel over like that. I always imagined disbanding to be depopping, vanishing into thin air-like, not croaking.

Jillian was Banhammer's heir. When he croaked, she and her units remained. The same thing happened when Saline IV croaked. Stanely became Overlord, and Gobwin Knob's units didn't disband. In the case of Unaroyal, Cruz was croaked, so Bea had no heir.

MonteCristo wrote:
If i had to guess i would say that this could be all what Haffaton was planning with this whole peace deal. If an alliance is not broken through inaction, then haffaton may have been planning this all the entire time. Through the deal with would get wanda; capture can risk croaking her in combat, or it could mean one of the other sides gets to her first. They would be bound to an alliance, but in truth haffaton no longer needs to do anything to finish off good mitten. They can allow goodmitten's former enemies to wipe out the side for them... Haffaton gets wanda AND gets to end goodmitten, but don't have to face the penalties of breaking alliance because someone else wiped out goodmitten.

I think Haffaton's original offer was genuine. Delphie was convinced that Overlord Firebaugh's rejection of the original peace preposal is what doomed her side. Haffaton seems like the local power. They have at least 9 cities, and they have formidible production capabilities. Frenemy and Quisling are collaborating with Haffaton. They allowed Haffaton units to pass through their territory to seize Goodfinger, since Tommy said they failed to guard Goodminton's flanks. They were feeding Haffaton intelligence that was used to plan ambushes. Olive was well aware of their move against Goodminton's capital. If Goodminton had accepted the original offer, they would have had 5 cities and been allied the to local power. It is also likely that Quisling and Frenemy will also ally with Haffaton. Goodminton would have been a reasonably stong side in a 4-side coalition fighting 2 sides in the battlespace. That probably would have lead to their survival. Instead, they are a side of 2 cities fighting 5 enemies by themselves. Personally, I think Haffaton changed their minds about the peace proposal when Tommy let slip the details of the Prediction.

MonteCristo wrote:
I doubt Uncroaked Tommy will last too long... it appears we are winding down to the end of her side. More than likely this would mean her entering combat, most of her comrades croaking and her fellows dusting and then her being captured; whatever is left disbands when the overlord falls... So at most, Wanda will use her juice to restore Tommy to near full strength so that he can get one last spectacular fight with Wanda trying to take out as many haffaton units as possible.

I disagree. I think UnTommy will last until he decays into dust. This whole story is about Wanda. We have to consider what will have the greatest impact on her. Watching her beloved brother decay, turn after turn, until he dusts is much more tragic than watching him dust in combat. She'll get to see her brother turn into something unrecognizable and ugly, and she will be powerless to prevent it. That's my guess anyway.

Quote:
"Sh," he said, holding up the fingers of his empty hand. He put his cards on the table, face down. "Check the hat. Did the hat rumble?"

It's nice to see Natural Thinkamancy at work. Tommy immediately knew that his father had sent a message and should check the hat.

Quote:
Olive nodded, her face blank. "Trouble? It's not with us. Maybe it's your allies?"

It seems obvious that Olive knew exactly what had happened. It seems likely that Haffaton actually ordered it.

Quote:
She touched her brother's arm and looked up at him. "I'll go. If it will save us."

While I think Haffaton's offer was genuine originally, based on Olive's lyrics, by this point, I doubt they would have honored it. They had already moved forces to ambush Goodminton's column, and Frenemy and Quisling were already over their capital. If they had traded Wanda to Haffaton, the ambush on the road wouldn't have happened, but Quisling and Frenemy would still have taken the capital. I doubt the reason they waited to attack had to do with Overlord Firebaugh's cleverness. If they had croaked Firebaugh while Wanda was in the field, she would have disbanded. Haffaton may have told them not to attack until she was either captured or safely in a city. For whatever reason, Haffaton still wants Wanda keenly.

Quote:
When they finally drew apart, Tommy looked distant and distracted.

I have a feeling Tommy knew he was poisoned the moment it happened. He probably didn't say anything, because he knew his forces were needed in the capital and some may have wanted to attempt revenge if they knew. If he didn't know he was poisoned, he certainly knew Olive had done something to him.