Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 026

Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower) - Episode 026

Before dawn, Wanda assembled a light pack. She would return in three turns' time, with fresh troops and hopefully fresh ideas. Her pledge to Father would be carried out while he lived. She was taking to the road to hurt Haffaton for him, and for Tommy.

To hurt Olive, she reserved for herself.

She glanced at the mirror in passing, then stopped, curious. That duality she'd always felt was gone. Mirror Wanda no longer seemed like a separate person. The dangerous, powerful creature there was simply her reflection now. This was the face the enemy would see as her uncroaked reaped them in the road.

Also, she looked exceedingly cute. Let them fear that as well. Fire could be fought with fire, Florist.

She took up her knapsack and staff in one hand, opened the door, and found Clay standing in the hallway. His back was to the wall, his eyes to the floor.

"Luckamancer," she said, stepping out and pulling the door shut.

"Hey, Chief."

In truth, Wanda had been trying to think of something to say to him for days. That was one of the ideas she hoped to gain during this trip. But here he was right now.

His being "in love with" her raised any number of problems, yet made her curious as well. Love was a powerful force. Hard to study. Clay understood it; he was suffering from it. Maybe he could explain it to her, the way he had with the dice. Though...if she stayed in close contact with him, would she start to feel the same for him?

To look at him, it didn't seem a danger. "Was there...something you needed?"

"Yeah. Listen, Chief, I think Delphie's pretty sure you're not coming back. So, you shouldn't go. Please don't. Okay?" His voice went high with pleading, but he had trouble looking at her.

Wanda swallowed. Delphie was Predicting she wouldn't return home? "She thinks I should stay here?"

"I think you should stay," said Clay. "I don't think she even cares right now. I can't talk to her. Not that I really ever could."

Wanda turned her head aside in thought. Supposing that her Fate to serve under Olive was truly inevitable, then she still had a choice: ride out or stay. Go to Olive and be captured in the field, or stay here until they lost the fight for the side, and be captured when Goodminton fell.

If she rode out and came back, she would beat a Prediction, show that it was possible. But if she rode out and lost to Haffaton in the field, then Goodminton might not necessarily fall. Especially if...

"Clay, I want you to curse me."

He started to shake his head. "Yes," she insisted. "Wreck my luck badly. I order you to."

"I can't..."

"Yes, do it!" she said, stepping close to him. "I want you to. Fate will protect me, or else there's no such thing. Just borrow all the good Numbers from me, and boost yourself. Boost Father, and everyone else here. Let me roll 1s. Let my outcomes be terrible."

He shook his head, looking at her mournfully for a moment, then glancing away in shame. "What about if...what if I came with you?"

"No," she said simply and definitively. "Curse me, and say goodbye. I will return if I can."

"Okay," he said. He put his hand lightly on her shoulder and whispered something she could not hear.

---

Since Haffaton was now allied with Frenemy and Quisling both, Goodminton's turn began at sunrise. Father stood on the tower parapet as Wanda led her uncroaked army through Goodminton's gates and off down the road. She saluted him from the saddle as they reached the first bend, but she did not know if he had seen.

She rode atop Funnyface, the only mount in the group. He was her favorite sawhorse, and also the only living unit in the column besides Wanda herself. His warmth and the steam of his breath were reassuring. She patted his neck often.

They walked at the fore of five-hundred-eleven uncroaked, stacked up with the best of the Fellows, including un-Tommy marching mindlessly beside her. One or two of these Knights had been there on her first foray out, as a Level 1. But the road journey to Coolminton was nothing like that turn. Her uncroaked could not sing bawdy songs. There was only the sound of cold wind, a few birds, and marching feet on snow and gravel.

This group had no scouts. As they marched on, she hoped for an ambush, or any enemy encounter, so that she might spend her juice this turn making fresh units instead of hopelessly re-patching these. It was better than wasting the juice entirely, but there was only so much she could do. These bodies were decaying inexorably to dust, and only the Titans could prevent that.

The landscape was as cheerless and bleak as ever. And now that she had noticed it, the silence of her companions was beginning to bother her. She did miss their songs.

From what she understood of her discipline, it ought to be possible to make them sing, if she were a master of Croakamancy. Singing was part of the Stagemancy involved in dance fighting. So how would that work, she wondered? The Thinkamancy inherent in giving them commands would have to be so specific to the throat and mouth muscles...maybe if she sang the order to them? Or thought of singing it? Hmm...

She halted the entire company with a thought. Without even their bootsteps, the quiet was still more unsettling.

"Tommy," she said aloud, more to hear her own voice than anything else. Un-Tommy turned his head toward her and gave what passed for his attention.

She frowned in thought for a moment, then took her little silk top hat from her head and gestured with it theatrically, singing to him. "If you're croaked, and that is no joke, you pass the yoke of Chief to a bloke named Fritz..."

Tommy could not dance, but in his best effort to do so, he stomped his boots on the ground. "Pooda onga riiish!" he shouted.

Funnyface snorted derisively.

She stared at un-Tommy for a long, cold minute before spurring her mount with a sigh. "March," she ordered. The entire company lurched forward its way down the road again.

Clearly she was not there yet.

---

The column ran out of move only two hexes short of Coolminton, having made no enemy contact. Haffaton would almost certainly be aware of them, and might well attack on their turn, so Wanda saved her juice. She kept the troops in battle stacks, and signalled Father by hat to end the turn.

The scene was stark and lifelessly beautiful. Snow dusted the barren foothills ahead. All around her, the armor-clad forms of former men stood in ranks in the snowy road, as indifferent to standing still as they'd been to marching. It was easy for Wanda to imagine that the world itself had been croaked, that she and Funnyface were alone in all creation. Some part of her found an odd kind of comfort in the thought.

But the enemy was out there, vast and unseen. She braced herself for a battle she knew she would lose. She and un-Tommy would hurt them, certainly. Each of the Fellows would go to dust, slashing and stabbing at the beast. Perhaps Olive herself would show. Or perhaps it wouldn't matter.

An hour passed just this way, like a painted tableau, and there was no sign of even a single scout or flyer. She began to make plans for striking camp, but she had a sudden bizarre feeling in her head, as if she were being lifted upwards.

She clutched the reins and looked around, trying to understand what had happened. She had not be struck by anything. Was there a lurking enemy caster, or--

Her hat rattled. She took it from her head and waved her hand over it. A little green gem appeared inside. With it was a scrap of a note, torn from Father's blotter. It read:

spent treas. to prom. you – live and avenge! love - F

All at once, completely new senses opened up in her head and she was flooded with information. She could see the distant lights of minds, know the numbers and locations and points of units.

She was Overlord of Goodminton! And...and there were almost no units to count. Fritz was gone. Clay was gone. Delphie was there in the tower, wounded.

In Wanda's head, Delphie's light went out as well. Gone.

Even as she struggled to comprehend, this brand new part of her mind calmly told her the score. The Garrison had seven Goodminton units left. Four.

"No," she said.

One.

She looked up, and had only the barest moment to see it. Except for her stack, every one of her hundreds of troops vanished without so much as a sound. Her mount bucked, then looked frantically side to side at the empty road.

Those new senses she'd been given went dark just as suddenly as they'd come to her, although she could now sense the upkeep of the units she was stacked with. These units were hers alone, now. In a horror of isolation and silence, Lady Wanda Firebaugh understood that she was a barbarian.

The chill wind gave her only a moment longer to grieve. Then it carried the approaching thunder of hooves from the road up ahead.

image

--End of Part 1--
Recent posts... (See full thread)
I can understand sides not wanting a croakamancer, but we've seen them just as unwilling to capture a dirtamancer, predictamancer, and luckamancer.

In fact, the only side we've seen that was eager to capture casters is... Stanley. :D Maybe he's not as much of an idiot as he seems, sometimes. Or capturing casters is a bad idea for reasons we haven't yet had discovered. (edit.. I said 'disclosed' lol, tired)

He did come up with the eyemancer linkup idea too. (As far as we know anyway)



For loyalty, I think turned units work like captured units (people, cities, planets, etc) in games where loyalty is a concern - they start off with a low loyalty and gradually build it up over time. Otherwise, captured units would always be essentially useless.

So you'd probably start off giving them nonessential but important tasks, make them feel like part of a side that appreciates them, cater to their strengths, etc, but also keep an eye on them and make sure they don't have a chance to screw you over, or to mitigate any damage they may do if it does happen.

I think a turnamancer just speeds up the process so they can be trusted sooner. So Jillian will be able to use and trust those captured units, and put them in positions where she won't have to worry about them wrecking her side or losing an essential battle on purpose.



A lot of this post is speculation. I'm not claiming it is how things actually work.
Beeskee wrote:
I can understand sides not wanting a croakamancer, but we've seen them just as unwilling to capture a dirtamancer, predictamancer, and luckamancer.

In fact, the only side we've seen that was eager to capture casters is... Stanley. :D Maybe he's not as much of an idiot as he seems, sometimes. Or capturing casters is a bad idea for reasons we haven't yet had discovered. (edit.. I said 'disclosed' lol, tired)

He did come up with the eyemancer linkup idea too. (As far as we know anyway)

We can't be 100% sure what happened to Delphie capturing might look the same as death; she stops being a unit under Wanda's control either way. Or it might look different. We defenitly have no clue what happened to Clay, he was already gone. He may have turned or gotten captured. They couldn't capture Sizemore since if he beat them instead it would be GG in the tunnels for Jetstone, and they weren't assured of victory over him. (And in fact, they did lose to him)

Also I do think Stanley is smarter than your average overlord. Which is really, really sad.
Beeskee wrote:
Unrelated to any ongoing discussion:

One thing that bothers me is that we know how valuable casters are, yet the attacking side made seemingly no effort to capture them. Nor have many other sides from what we've seen. The RCC was all too willing to attempt to croak Sizemore, Jetstone's planned treaty involved 'possibly' croaking Wanda (an ATTUNED caster) and in this battle we had a Predictamancer and Luckamancer, units that would at least seem to be valuable even among generally valuable casters, wiped out. Is it that the upkeep is so high that sides generally don't capture casters despite their value? Is there some other reason we don't know about that sides aren't doing much capturing of units? I know it's hard to break the loyalty but it is eventually possible.


Okay, so maybe I'm bored. :P:D It seems like a valid point though.
Remember, captured units do have infamously low loyalty. While casters are valuable enough that they're often captured, that's also a reason for people to want to croak them.

On top of this, they probably have an upkeep appropriate to their power. Not everyone can afford capturing a new caster.

Lamech wrote:
Also I do think Stanley is smarter than your average overlord. Which is really, really sad.
I think that Stanley is really, really good at short-term tactics, but terrible at overarching strategy. Things like "capture valuable assets" come to him as naturally as breathing (remember, he did rise to leadership based on his own merits -- IIRC he was already at least a Warlord by the time he found the Arkenhammer, and he started out as a pikeman.) He looks buffoonish to us because we've mostly seen him in roles he's not particularly suitable for, but there are clearly some things he's very good at -- every indication is that he was an extremely competent Warlord.

But his biggest weakness is that he has terrible personnel management skills.

(He also seems to know this, on some level -- part of his frustration and the reason he lashes out is because he's frustrated that he's now too valuable to risk and has to sit uselessly in his castle. That's also why he was so willing to abandon ship, I think -- ultimately, he prefers being on the field, since that's what he's made for and that's what he's good at.)
Beeskee wrote:
In fact, the only side we've seen that was eager to capture casters is... Stanley. :D Maybe he's not as much of an idiot as he seems, sometimes. Or capturing casters is a bad idea for reasons we haven't yet had discovered.
He did come up with the eyemancer linkup idea too. (As far as we know anyway)
Stanley has depths that the simple label of 'idiot' cannot convey. Stanley was said by Wanda, who is lately and pretty much our caster protagonist, to have been the shrewdest move she had seen in his creation of the eyemancer link. This does call into question Stanley's idiocy WRT magic, as an idiot should not have been able to suggest a shrewd strategic maneuver such as the eyemancer link. Wanda or one of the other casters should have been able to suggest the link, and given Stanley's idiocy it should have been a fight to convince him of the value of the link, rather than Stanley calling for the link on his own.
Hi, all! Does anyone know if we're in a break between chapters where we should expect no updates for awhile? Sorry to ask - I'm not usually one to fret about the update schedule. I just didn't know if there was a shoutout I'd missed about some kind of hiatus.
I just noticed today that Rob made a post about that in the news section saying that we should get something this week hopefully. I would go read that for the full details :)
Where is the news section?
On the main page below the comic is where I found it. Not sure if there is a feed elsewhere that could be watched.
I've seen that news update in the RSS feed.

at least i beleive i've seen it there. I have the feed home and not at work.
I have to wonder - was the Young Frankenstein gag planned all along, prompting Tommy's replacement to be named Fritz or was that just a happy coincidence that played into the gag when it came up?